Madonna Adds 49th No. 1 on Dance Club Songs Chart With Swae Lee Collab ‘Crave’

Ricardo Gomes
Madonna

Madonna earns her record-extending 49th No. 1 on Billboard‘s Dance Club Songs chart, as “Crave,” with Swae Lee, ascends 2-1 on the Nov. 16-dated list.

The chart, and all rankings dated Nov. 16, will refresh on Billboard.com Tuesday, Nov. 12.

“Crave,” which marks Lee’s first No. 1 on the ranking, was remixed for clubs by Tracy Young, Benny Benassi and DJLW, among a host of others.

With 49 toppers on Dance Club Songs, which measures reports submitted by a national sample of club DJs and which launched as a national survey in the Billboard issue dated Aug. 28, 1976, Madonna outpaces runner-up Rihanna (33 No. 1s), while Beyoncé and Janet Jackson follow with 22 and 20, respectively.

Madonna

“Crave” is Madonna’s third leader, all this year, from her album Madame X, following “Medellín,” with Maluma (June 29), and “I Rise” (Aug. 31). Madonna adds her ninth No. 1 this decade and has earned three each from her last three studio albums, with each triple tallied in a single year. Madonna also scored three No. 1s each from 2015’s Rebel Heart (“Living for Love,” “Ghosttown” and “B**** I’m Madonna,” featuring Nicki Minaj) and 2012’s MDNA (“Give Me All Your Luvin’,” featuring Nicki Minaj and M.I.A., “Girl Gone Wild” and “Turn Up the Radio”).

“Crave” additionally marks Madonna’s ninth consecutive Dance Club Songs No. 1, her longest such streak. (Katy Perry holds the record with 18 straight No. 1s in 2009-17.) Twice before, Madonna managed seven straight No. 1s, first with “Causing a Commotion,” from the Who’s That Girl soundtrack (1987), through “Justify My Love,” from her first greatest hits set, The Immaculate Collection (1991), and then with Ray of Light‘s “Nothing Really Matters” (1999) through Music‘s “Impressive Instant” (2001). Madonna’s current run began with “Luvin’ ” in 2012.

In celebration of Madonna’s newest No. 1, here’s an updated look at her Dance Club Songs leaders. (Of note, at various points before Feb. 23, 1991, full albums were eligible to chart, which allowed for a full remix album of Madonna’s You Can Dance to reign. Plus, for titles that spent multiple weeks at No. 1, total frames in the lead are noted in parentheses.)

Madonna’s 49 Dance Club Songs No. 1s
1983, “Holiday”/”Lucky Star” (five weeks at No. 1)
1984, “Like a Virgin” (four)
1985, “Material Girl”
1985, “Angel”/”Into the Groove”
1987, “Open Your Heart”
1987, “Causing a Commotion (Remix)”
1988, You Can Dance (LP Cuts)
1989, “Like a Prayer” (two)
1989, “Express Yourself” (three)

1990, “Keep It Together”
1990, “Vogue” (two)
1991, “Justify My Love” (two)
1992, “Erotica”
1993, “Deeper and Deeper”
1993, “Fever”
1994, “Secret” (two)
1995, “Bedtime Story”
1997, “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina”
1998, “Frozen” (two)
1998, “Ray of Light” (four)
1999, “Nothing Really Matters” (two)
1999, “Beautiful Stranger” (two)

2000, “American Pie”
2000, “Music” (five)
2001, “Don’t Tell Me”
2001, “What It Feels Like for a Girl”
2001, “Impressive Instant” (two)
2002, “Die Another Day” (two)
2003, “American Life”
2003, “Hollywood”
2003, “Me Against the Music,” Britney Spears feat. Madonna (two)
2004, “Nothing Fails”
2004, “Love Profusion”
2005, “Hung Up” (four)
2006, “Sorry” (two)
2006, “Get Together”
2006, “Jump” (two)
2008, “4 Minutes,” Madonna feat. Justin Timberlake & Timbaland (two)
2008, “Give It 2 Me”
2009, “Celebration”

2012, “Give Me All Your Luvin’,” Madonna feat. Nicki Minaj & M.I.A.
2012, “Girl Gone Wild”
2012, “Turn Up the Radio”
2015, “Living for Love”
2015, “Ghosttown”
2015, “B**** I’m Madonna,” Madonna feat. Nicki Minaj
2019, “Medellín,” Madonna & Maluma
2019, “I Rise”
2019, “Crave,” Madonna & Swae Lee

More at Billboard

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Madame X Tour Las Vegas 11/7 FAN REVIEW

Wow, it is hard to know what to say about last night’s show, which has provoked some pretty passionate reactions! Factually what everyone is saying is absolutely correct, Madonna did come on very late (last time I checked my watch was 11:55pm and Madonna was still not on), and finish time was around 2:30am which is far too late, and I was totally exhausted at the end. People were leaving, one couple in front of me were demanding a refund at around 11:30 and left, so I moved into their seats, and quite a few others left, and their seats were soon filled up with some pretty passionate fans. So, it was fantastic to be surrounded by lots of really hard-core fans who were all enjoying themselves, though we all were quite tired. I had prepared myself for a long wait, and spent the time milling around chatting with all the other passionate funs, who were easy to spot as they were the ones dressed up, standing, smiling and not dozing off! Her Fado band who came on earlier in the night were fantastic and I would have love to have heard them more. Yes I wish she had come on 1-2 hours earlier, but she didn’t, I knew it in advance, so got over it pretty quickly.

Atmosphere in the Orchestra, was pretty good, once Madonna came on everyone stood up and a lot of people, including me, did stay standing for most of the show, but when I turned back I could see quite a few people sitting, which is understandable given the late hour, but I stood most of the concert and had no one behind me complaining. Caesars actually had a sign up at the box office encouraging patrons to stand up. I overheard one disgruntled fan tell another dancing fan that they would call security if they didn’t sit down, so wonder how that went…..:) Madonna came out into the audience twice, once during Medellin on the far left (facing the stage) and of course at the end for I Rise, on the far-right aisle.  For the beer discussion she sat on the stage in front of my section, so I had a wonderful view.

I won’t go into the actual set list etc as it has been covered to death, but from fans I spoke to afterwards, apart from her banter, it didn’t vary from the other shows they had seen. Highlights for me were Crave, which was a fantastic dance mix and at that point of the concert I had moved into the front row aisle and was dancing right in front of Madonna and she looked straight into my eyes!!!! God Control was amazing, and got everyone around me up on their feet. During Like a Prayer I was standing 2 metres away from my idol while she sings the first verse of my favourite song of hers, without doubt this is the absolute highlight of my Madonna career! Frozen as everyone says is amazing, I can only imagine those fans on opening night who saw it for the first time how spectacular it would have been, it was visually stunning, but already knowing it was Lourdes took some of the joy and wonder out of it for me, but take nothing away, it was a beautiful performance.

I knew that Madonna was suffering from a cold, and with that knowledge, I think you could tell. A lot of the singing was distorted through the mic (e.g. God Control) as per the recorded song, but I was so stunned with how beautiful her voice was in the Fado section when she sang the songs in Portuguese, absolutely sublime singing. To see this on a night when she was in fullforce would be an absolute treat. What a trooper she is for coming on when she wasn’t 100% – no doubt the revenue earned would be a motivating factor as well…..  The sound of the bass was pretty full on, I could feel my whole body vibrating sometimes during the fast-paced numbers, not sure if that is common, or they need to do some work on the sound levels at this particular venue.

Her knee was taped up with KT tape all around the thigh, so clearly that has been giving her some issues, and Madonna didn’t dance around as vigorously as I have seen her in the past, though not sure if that is the same for the full Madame X, or was cut down for the LV show.

It was absolutely an amazing experience and for me, well worth the 4-figure ticket price, (and I cannot wait to see her again in Paris, if I can swing it, I might to catch her in another city) though for some I can see how they would be disappointed. Most people reading this will be pretty passionate fans and know what to expect and will really cherish this beautiful experience, but for those casual fans, who want her to ‘dance and sing, get up and do your thing’ old style Madonna at a civilised hour, they may be disappointed for sure. For those who want to go and appreciate Madonna’s artistry, hear her message and have an intimate experience with an amazing woman, I cannot think of a better experience. I actually had someone came up to me after the concert and comment on how much they could see I was enjoying it, and I certainly was! What a (late) night. Madame X was everything I expected and more, both from a show, the intimacy and overall experience. Honestly the fact that I had my best Madonna experience at such a controversial concert is the icing on the cake!

For everyone who is yet to see the show, keep an open mind, enjoy the experience, plan for a late night and don’t get too hung up on the start time. 

 

Thank you to Beautiful Bicycle for sharing!

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MADAMEXGIVING : A Madonna Dance Party 11/27 at Rockbar

Going through Madame X withdrawal? Have no fear…Chauncey and Dexter are here! It’s time to give thanks to her majesty at MADAMEXGIVING: A Madonna Dance Party
Wednesday, November 27th

Celebrate The Queen of Pop with two of her biggest fans at Rockbar on the night before Thanksgiving in NYC!

DJ Chauncey D of Madonna Worship and Dexter Driscoll of Body Language team up for the very first time for a rowdy night of Madonna classics, rarities, remixes and more!

Drink specials at the bar
A special performance by LA DIVA CICCONE
and more…
7:00pm
$5 cover

Rockbar NYC
185 Christopher Street
NY, NY

EVENT PAGE HERE

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Fans boo, chant ‘refund’ as Madonna starts concert after midnight (MSN)

Many of Madonna‘s fans expressed themselves on Thursday night (er, rather Friday morning) when she was nearly two hours late for her Las Vegas concert.

An entertainment source tells Wonderwall.com that “over 500 refunds” were issued after Madge eschewed her 10:30 p.m. start time, instead taking the Caesars Palace Colosseum stage past midnight, which is technically Friday morning. The show also ran longer than anticipated, and eventually let out around 2:45 a.m.

Fans, however, weren’t pleased with the late start, many of them started booing and chanting the word “refund,” according to local reports and Twitter users.

“@madonna is completely disrespectful to audience starting so late. Lost a fan,” one person said.

Since doors for the show opened around 8 p.m., many fans were in the venue for over four hours before getting their first glimpse of Madonna.

Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John Katsilometes tweeted, “Reports that #Madonna took the stage at about 12:30 a.m. at the Colosseum last night/this morning. She is famously late to the stage, but this might be some sort of record.”

The blog Breathe Heavy noted, “Some people in attendance were annoyed, so it didn’t help that Madonna ribs the audience by essentially calling them poor, cursing up a storm and explaining her political views. It reportedly resulted in boos and chants for refunds.”

Many on social media noted that fans were sleeping during the show due to the time.

“You were seriously late to the show your fans payed good $ to see = disrespectful,” one Twitter user wrote. “Fans were walking out, if you can’t see that’s a problem you’ve a big problem on your hands.”

Irked by Madonna’s tardiness, one Twitter user said, “1.5 hours late. Indifferent-to-hostile audience. Juvenile attempts at humor met with audience silence. I’ve never seen anyone less in control of a room. Truly amateurish.”

The tweets all came after the concert was over in the wee hours of the morning, as the show was “phone free,” meaning concertgoers had to lock up up their cell phones.

Madge’s defenders noted that Madonna has been continuously late for her shows throughout her storied career, claiming attendees should have expected it.

Read more at MSN.com

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MUSIC PICK: MADONNA

Madonna begins the first of 10 nights at the relatively intimate Wiltern instead of the sports arenas she usually plays. In a bold move, she’s primarily performing songs from her recent album, Madame X, a disparate collection of moods and styles ranging from electronica, house and hip-hop to Latin pop and traditional fado melancholia sung in three languages (English, Portuguese and Spanish). While not always cohesive, the eclectic settings — many of which were inspired by her sojourn in Lisbon — give Madonna intriguing spaces to contrast romantic passion with larger social issues such as gun control. “Everybody knows the damn truth/Our nation lied, we lost respect,” she sings on “God Control,” one of the record’s most ambitious tracks, which segues from funereal choral reverence into deceptively fizzy dance-pop and spacey rap. Through November 25.

The Wiltern, 3790 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Wed., Nov. 13, 9:30 p.m.; $160-$757. (213) 388-1400, www.wiltern.com.

More at LAWeekly

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Nothing Fails discography online – 16 different pressings

One of Madonna’s most memorable songs is without a doubt ‘Nothing Fails’, critics thought it to be a follow-up to the classic ‘Like a Prayer’ because of the fantastic use of the choir. Many fans felt it should’ve been the lead single off of American Life, but Madonna and Warner Music had different ideas. 

The song was eventually released as official third single off the album but unfortunately without a music video to support the track. Many radio stations thought the song wasn’t ‘radio friendly’ resulting in a severe lack of airplay. A missed opportunity as it’s such a gem of a song! Madonna did perform the track during her ‘Re-Invention Tour’ in 2004 on guitar, but sadly hasn’t been performed since. The song would have fit perfectly in her current Madame X Tour.

For the discography we have collected 16 pressings, click HERE to view

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FIVE REASONS MADONNA’S COLOSSEUM VISIT COULD BE A ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME EXPERIENCE

For the tour behind her 14th studio album, Madame X, Madonna opted to do something completely different: an elaborate theater tour. And performing in far smaller venues than usual has naturally led to one of her most unique concert experiences ever. As Rolling Stone noted, at a September Brooklyn show she quipped from the stage, “Freedom is the theme of this show. And the theme of my life, for that matter.” Here are five reasons not to miss the Material Girl this time around.

1. The show reflects months of hard work and planning. Madonna treated the Madame X Tour much like the opening of a Broadway production, with workshops starting in May and intense rehearsals beginning in July in advance of the tour’s September launch. These practice sessions were well-documented online, especially on Instagram—in fact, videos even showed her performing several songs that didn’t make the show’s final cut—and revealed how much care and planning went into every detail of the concert, including choreography, costumes, song sequencing and musical arrangements.

2. Madame X is one of the richest, most provocative albums of her career. That’s a bold statement, considering Madonna built her reputation by crafting boundary-shifting (if not -breaking) pop music. But the deeply political Madame X addresses topics such as gun control, activism and corrupt leadership, while also examining the emotional toll of loneliness. Naturally the current tour focuses heavily on new material, so the show should be a thought-provoking, immersive experience.

3. The tour embodies Madame X’s musical depth. The album reunites Madonna with French producer Mirwais, and it also reflects her exploration of sounds from her current home country, Portugal, and includes collaborations with Colombian superstar Maluma and Orquestra Batukadeiras, an all-women Portuguese percussion troupe that specializes in the Cape Verdean genre batuque. The latter group performs onstage as part of the Madame X Tour, and reviews also note that Madonna incorporates the Portuguese genre fado into the show.

4. You never know what might happen at the concert. To be fair, this was also likely true of previous Madonna tours—but as the Rolling Stone review of the Brooklyn concert noted, “Her comic banter was as stellar as the music—she was loose, salty, spontaneous, thriving on her closeness with the crowd.” In fact, at that show she even cozied up to a fan in the audience and drank from his beer.

5. It’s likely a once-in-a-lifetime show. For starters, phones aren’t allowed into the show, meaning catching clips on YouTube or Instagram the next day likely isn’t an option. More than that, however, Madonna isn’t a fan of repeating herself. In fact, she’s notorious for not always playing her biggest hits live; and if and when she does play them, fans can expect different approaches and arrangements. That being said, Madame X Tour setlists do include a selection of familiar tunes (“Like a Prayer,” “Vogue,” “Express Yourself” and “Frozen”) in addition to Madame X songs. But with a show this elaborate, don’t count on it growing long beyond the already announced dates.

MADONNA November 7, 9-10, 10:30 p.m., $55-$328. The Colosseum, 866-234-7469.

More at LasVegasWeekly

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Madonna Wants To Be Your Mom, Provocateur, and High Priestess in ‘Madame X’ Tour, and It’s A Lot (REVIEW)

“Are you all starting to get it?” Madonna asked from the stage, at least several times, to a fawning, screaming audience whom she treated at times more like a kindergarten classroom than who they were — a crowd of well-heeled, mostly middle-aged fans who could afford orchestra seats for her pricey Madame X tour.

“Madame X is a teacher. She’s a rebel. She’s a head of state. She’s a mother. She’s a child. She’s a whore. And she is a saint.” (I’m paraphrasing only slightly — no cellphones were allowed.)

Madonna, at 60, sees herself as all of the above, except (maybe) head of state. And in her new tour, which just finished the last of a three-night engagement at the Golden Gate Theater in San Francisco, she is not so much playing a character as just another in a long series of chameleon-like variations on her public self. She sounds every bit the confident, caustic “bad girl” she wanted us to see on the Truth or Dare tour nearly 30 years ago, only she’s no girl anymore and likely more invested in her legacy as a performer than in selling albums or concert seats. (Or in making things pleasant for an aging fanbase, many of whom were weary and overheated in a stuffy theater by the time she went on, some 40 minutes later than announced and hours after the theater opened, around 11:10 p.m.)

She admits a little bit of weakness — twice she mentioned tendonitis in a hip flexor, an injury she apparently had when the tour began in September according to this Rolling Stone review, though perhaps this is a second injury. But that’s only so that you’re more impressed with all the dancing she does.

If I walked away with anything from Tuesday night’s show — apart from memories of a truly stunning visual spectacle, enhanced by recent advances in projection mapping — it’s that Madonna, more than ever, still craves respect and adoration as an artist and activist more than as a pop icon, but she’ll accept a role as quasi-religious icon if she must. She isn’t afraid to patronize the kids with auto-tuned, one-off singles like “Crave” (feat. Swae Lee) and “Future” (feat. Quavo) — or “Bitch I’m Madonna” from 2015’s Rebel Heart. But her heart is mostly in awing everyone with bold visuals of gun violence, gun protests, and the borrowed soulfulness of her video for “Batuka,” which is sung (along with the projected video) with the help of the Orquestra Batukadeiras — a group of African Portuguese Creole women from Cape Verde, whom she has brought on the tour with her.

Much of the new album grew out of Madonna’s recent experience living in Portugal while her now 14-year-old son David Banda was at a soccer school. As the story goes, she got bored being alone there while he played soccer, so she started going out to clubs and cafes and fell in love with fado, the guitar-based music genre native to Lisbon. According to this June profile in New York Times, “One night, she visited a Frenchman’s crumbling home on the sea for an improv session, mostly of fado musicians. ‘There was a vibration there that was magical and palpable, and suddenly musicians started playing,’ she said.”

And if you haven’t gathered by now, the show Madonna is now performing in small-ish theaters in major cities is a mashup of many things with only the vaguest threads to link them. A quieter central portion of the show, all set in a projected space meant to look like a fado cafe, features several of her new songs featuring Portuguese guitar — along with the strumming talents of 16-year-old Gaspar Varela, great-grandson of famed singer Celeste Rodrigues, whom Madonna also recruited in Lisbon. (“There’s not enough dressing rooms for everyone. My manager’s not talking to me right now,” Madonna said at one point, emphasizing that she still had to have her way and we should all be grateful.)

The show begins and ends with a James Baldwin quote that gets typed on a projection screen multiple times just to make sure we read and absorb it: “Art is here to prove that all safety is an illusion… Artists are here to disturb the peace.”

But while Madame X, the show is compellingly odd at times, and no doubt unique as a theatrical concert among her generation of icons, I still can’t say that Madonna has transcended to a level beyond “great performer” to disturber of the peace. The only moment of real theater I witnessed was when she sat on the edge of the stage and invited a stranger to give her a sip of their drink and chat. (The handsome military man who complied was clearly a prepped plant who handed her a glass beer bottle full of water, much like one a dancer had handed her earlier — and the Golden Gate Theater doesn’t sell beer in bottles to take to your seat. She then semi-convincingly played a beer drinker for 90 seconds while catching her breath.) Apart from nods to the Parkland and Pulse nightclub shootings, Madonna’s co-opting of yet another culture not her own and lazy off-the-cuff banter felt out of touch — even with evolving ideas about mental health when she griped about people getting up to use the bathroom or go to the bar as having “ADDDD or ADHD,” or when she asked an increasingly listless crowd if their Adderall was kicking in.

I thought about Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music. I sat through that in six-hour stretches and rarely felt very bored or restless. And no matter what I was feeling I knew that Taylor was going to come out with articulate and thoughtful thing to tie together whatever I just saw. Madonna tended more toward the persona and mode she’s most comfortable in — like that too-knowing friend of your older sister who likes to ask you sarcastic questions and never lets her guard down. “You get it yet!?”

For all the ways I love her “Bitch I’m Madonna” swagger and the unique position she is in as an artist and icon, there’s a point at which her bravado and aggressive diva-ness is lost on all but her super-fans, and the rest of us are left sighing to ourselves and saying “Bitch, just do ‘Ray of Light’ already.” I don’t want her retiring into a Las Vegas residency and turning into a caricature of herself, trotting out her hits and ceasing to look for inspiration. But I can’t say that the new material is inspiring enough to carry as much of this intimate show as she wants it to be. And I felt like I was expected to worship each costume change and come-to-church moment, spanning the cultures that have influenced her various albums, from Hindu-Buddhist to British trance to gospel to, now, batuque and fado.

There were a lot of slow moments, and the only times she truly energized the crowd were with excellent revisions of 90s hits like “Vogue” and “Human Nature,” very early in two hour and 20 minute set. By the time she’s taken off her embroidered sari and put on her priest’s vestments for “Like a Prayer,” which transitions into her finale with the new song, “I Rise,” it felt like she’d lost the crowd (except for the super-fans who’d already paid to see this once and were back again). I was ready to rise mostly because I was tired, it was 1:30 a.m., and I’ve outgrown the person who saw her as a flawless gay icon and god. I see we’re all flawed, and Madonna’s spent the better part of two decades trying to stay relevant if not quite edgy, and if nothing else I’m happy she found a new music genre to play with in Portugal.

I wasn’t the only one grumbling about the decided lack of crowd-pleasers in the set as we all filed to the doors to get our cellphone satchels unlocked so we could return to our realities.

And she still never did “Ray of Light.”

More at Sfist.com

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Madonna’s Madame X comes alive, rises (REVIEW)

Madonna’s been using the word paradox to describe her adventurous 2019 studio album “Madame X” and so indeed is her current concert tour, which closed a three-night engagement at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Theatre on Tuesday.

Although the show’s setting was smaller than the arenas she’s filled during her decades as the world’s biggest pop star, it was hardly an intimate or casual affair. True, she chatted with the audience a bit, got a guy named Brad (a drill sergeant from Kansas City in the front) to give her a swig of warm beer and took a single Polaroid selfie, which she sold to another fellow for $4,000, with the money going to charity.

In a welcome nod to theater tradition, photos were not allowed; fans had to lock their phones into bags provided at the entry which were opened upon departure.

Paradoxically both charming and offputting, Madame X made demands of her audience. She asked if they were paying attention, told them to sit the f— down, and, after being distracted by doors at the back of the theater opening, queried, “Did you enjoy this fado club, those who stayed in the room?”

The fado café, her re-creation of her time spent as a soccer mom in Portugal, where she met local musicians and fell in love with their artistry, was a highlight in the middle of the two-and-a-half hour show (which started a half-hour late), a sometimes murky mix of performance art, politics and song.

The segment included the evening’s most joyous number, the call-and-response “Batuka,” featuring the gorgeous, dynamic, singing and hand-drumming, all-woman ensemble Orquestra Batukadeiras from Cape Verde.

“Killers Who Are Partying,” a solemn ode to those who are disenfranchised or facing discrimination, had some Portuguese lyrics, as did the pop-flavored “Crazy,” with accordion.

Singing “Sodade” and accompanying herself on guitar, Madonna explained that the song, popularized by Cesária Évora and sung in Creole, was about longing. Moving to Colombia, Madonna and company performed the catchy dance tune “Medellin,” then closed the club section with the introspective “Extreme Occident.”

The easygoing café was a big contrast to the jam-packed, high-concept start: a silhouetted character typing out James Baldwin’s credo “Artists are here to disturb the peace” as shots were fired, followed by the anti-gun disco-y “God Control,” a wild set piece with Madonna dressed as a founding father facing off with cops wearing riot gear, images of the American flag and video of gun violence. Whew!

“Dark Ballet,” the second number, was even more out there, with Joan of Arc references, religious garb and battles with dancers in gas masks reminiscent of the mice in “Nutcracker,” complete with an electronic alteration of Tchaikovsky’s familiar melody.

A jazzy, percussive version of “Human Nature” from 1994, one of a handful of non-“Madame X” tunes, had shadow images on the back wall and a throng of girls, including Madonna’s young daughters Stella, Estere and Mercy James, serving up MeToo era sentiments as Madge stated, “I’m not your bitch.”

There was an a cappella sing-along of “Express Yourself,” a too short rendition of “Papa Don’t Preach” and a noir-themed version of “Vogue,” with Madonna and dancers in blond wigs and trench coats.

Derided on its 2003 release, the busy rap-filled, social statement “American Life” — wearing her Madame X eye-patch, Madonna played guitar — sounded great and urgent.

“Frozen” was simple and beautiful, sung solo in front of a striking black-and-white video of her daughter Lourdes dancing that filled the theater’s back screen. Next, Madonna’s whole congregation, dressed in colorful flowing robes, convened for the positively upbeat “Come Alive.”

Back in a black robe studded with crosses for the penultimate “Like a Prayer,” Madonna had the audience singing along with religious fervor, before closing with the inspirational “I Will Rise.”

The tune began, accompanied by powerful video of Parkland demonstrators, and closed as fans on one side of the theater basked in their idol’s glow as Madame X herself exited down an aisle (letting people touch her!), with markedly minimal fanfare.

 

Madonna plays piano on the tune “Future” in her “Madame X” show. (Courtesy Stufish)

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PPA PRESENTS WELCOME TO THE WOOD – (MADONNA CLASSICS AND) A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM (Schimmel Center at Pace)

Express Yourself, explore and discover the depth of desires in Justify My Love. Theseus (King of Athens) is engaged Hippolyta (Queen of the Amazons) as  King and Queen they live a world of duty but their secret lives as Titania and Oberon unfold in the underground night club, “The Woods.” It is as elegant as it is erotic, as sophisticated as it is sensual, and as timeless as it is tempting.  Crowds gather to Get Into the Groove as DJ Puck spins Madonna classics well into the night. The Deeper and Deeper one goes into “The Woods,” it is a place where the experienced can feel Like a Virgin and lovers and Materiel Girls can Open Your Heart. After a night in “The Woods” it’s possible that the ,“bourgeoisie and the rebel come together.”

GET TICKETS HERE

 

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Before Madonna headlines 10 nights at The Wiltern, take a look back at some of her biggest tour stops in Southern California

After 14 albums and 11 concert tours, Madonna is still out there living her best life.

The 61-year-old singer-songwriter, mother of six and ever-evolving Queen of Pop is currently out on her all-theater Madame X Tour in support of her latest album of the same title, which was released on June 14. So far, she’s released five singles from “Madame X” including the Latin-infused “Medellín,” the pop-dance track, “Crave,” a soaring balled dubbed, “I Rise,” the reggae/dancehall song “Future” and multi-layered, classical music meets EDM, “Dark Ballet.”

The outing marks the first time since 1985’s The Virgin Tour that Madonna has performed exclusively in small venues. She’s scheduled 10 nights at 1,850-capacity Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles Nov. 13-14; 16-17; 19-21; and 23-25. The first evening of the initial run, Friday, Nov. 12, was abruptly canceled last month. The shows are sold out, however tickets are still available via secondary sellers, but the asking price is anywhere from $200-$1,500 for those desperately seeking to catch Madonna’s performance in an intimate space.

Throughout her career, which has now spanned four decades, Madonna has always made a splash in Southern California.

After rolling around on stage in a wedding dress and singing “Like a Virgin” during the first-ever MTV Video Music Awards Show at Radio City Music Hall in 1984, Madonna hit the road on The Virgin Tour in support of her self-titled and “Like a Virgin” albums. The jaunt hit up SDSU Open Air Theatre in San Diego for two nights before selling out Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa on April 21 and migrating further north to Universal Amphitheatre for three evenings, April 26-18, 1985.

By Madonna’s second tour, her fame had skyrocketed. She released her third album, “True Blue” and had starred in the film “Who’s That Girl,” to which she also contributed the music. With hits such as “Papa Don’t Preach,” “Who’s That Girl,” “Open Your Heart” and “La Isla Bonita,” Madonna headlined Angel Stadium in Anaheim on July 18, 1987.

Three years later, she was back on the road with another new album, “Like a Prayer” and music from the “Dick Tracy” film, in which she starred opposite Warren Beatty. Madonna brought her Blond Ambition Tour to Southern California and played five nights at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena on May 11-13 and 15-16, 1990 and performed hits like “Express Yourself” and “Like a Prayer.”

Following her back-to-back albums and lengthy tours, Madonna took a bit of a break before going out on The Girlie Show World Tour in support of her “Erotica” album in 1993. That jaunt didn’t hit Los Angeles, but did play out in in England, Paris, Mexico, Australia and there were just a handful of dates in the U.S. including three nights at Madison Square Garden (Oct. 14,15 and 17) in New York City. It would be eight years before Madonna toured again.

In 1998, she released “Ray of Light” and followed that up with “Music” in 2000 before she set off on the Drowned World Tour in 2001. She sold out four nights at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Sept. 9 and 13-15. In 2003, she dropped “American Life” and  went out on the Re-Invention World Tour which kicked off at The Forum in Inglewood on May 24, 2004. She also played May 26-27 at the venue and dipped behind the Orange Curtain to play the Arrowhead Pond (now Honda Center) in Anaheim June 2-3.

Madonna joined animated band Gorillaz for a mashup of their hit “Feel Good Inc.” and her single, “Hung Up,” during the opening of the 48th Annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 6, 2006 at Staples Center. Two months later, she performed at the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio and then officially embarked on the Confessions Tour in support of her 10th studio album, “Confessions on a Dance Floor.” Once again, the jaunt kicked off at The Forum on May 21. She also sold out the venue May 23-24 as well as Staples Center on June 3.

Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet Tour in 2008-2009, in support of the album, “Hard Candy,” broke several ticket sale records and it became the highest-grossing concert tour ever by a female artist, raking in $408 million. She brought the show to Petco Park in San Diego on Nov. 4 and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Nov. 6, 2008. Four years after their infamous kiss at the MTV Video Music Awards, Madonna and Britney Spears reunited at Dodger Stadium for the song, “Human Nature.”

Her MDNA Tour kicked off on May 31, 2012 in Tel Aviv, Israel, and skipped all across Europe, bringing in anywhere from $1 million-$7 million per show before she hit the U.S. She played two evenings at Staples Center, Oct. 10-11, and included songs like “Girl Gone Wild,” “Give Me All Your Luvin’,” and “Turn Up the Radio,” off of her “MDNA” album.

Madonna returned to the Grammy stage to perform her single “Living For Love,” for the 57th annual awards ceremony at Staples Center on Feb. 8, 2015. Later that year she released her 13th studio album, “Rebel Heart,” and embarked on an all-arena tour that included sold-out stops at The Forum on Oct. 27 and Valley View Casino Center in San Diego on Oct. 29, 2015.

Now, Madonna returns with the string of shows at The Wiltern. Though its an intimate show, the Madame X Tour is bursting with production, however, fans will have to witness it through their own eyes instead of through their cell phones as Madonna has banned the devices from the performances. Phones will either have to be left at home, in the car or they will be placed in secure pouches ahead of the performance. It’s not only cell phones — all devices including smart watches and smart phone accessories will also not be permitted in the performance space.

Though a majority of these shows are playing off on weeknights, Madonna is not going on until 10:30 p.m. so it will be a late one. She’s got a pretty stacked set list, too. So far, she’s been playing songs from throughout her career including “Vogue,” “Papa Don’t Preach,” “La Isla Bonita,” “Frozen,” “Express Yourself,” “American Life,” “Like a Prayer” and she’s playing a good chunk of the new material as well.

Madonna’s Madame X Tour

When: 10:30 p.m. November 13-14, 16-17, 19-21, 23-25

Where: The Wiltern Theatre, 3790 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles

Tickets: All of the dates are sold-out, however there are some resale tickets available and going for anywhere between $200-$1,500 via LiveNation.com and Stubhub.com.

More at DailyNews

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REVIEW: Madonna bathes in the noise at San Francisco ‘Madame X’ finale

Madonna performs on the Madame X tour in this undated photo. Courtesy: Stufish.
 

SAN FRANCISCO — “Who is Madame X?” Madonna asked halfway into her two-and-a-half hour show Tuesday at Golden Gate Theatre, the final concert of a three-date residency. The show was just as much a performance art piece and a revue as a music concert. While Madonna has toured arenas and stadiums for years (and hasn’t played smaller clubs since 1985), The Madame X tour was an extremely more intimate affair. But intimate didn’t mean scaled back. If anything, it showed Madonna thinks outside the box.

The answer to the question was the crux of the show, and it was one she answered over and over again. Madame X, a persona the 61-year-old took on after moving to Lisbon, Portugal several years ago, is everything all at once. She’s a sinner, a saint, a head of state and a whore.

“But so are all of you,” Madonna said.

While the concept wasn’t always cleanly communicated, and some may have left scratching their heads, it showed that Madonna wasn’t done messing with people’s heads. And that was made clear at the outset when the words of novelist James Baldwin were projected surf onto the stage: “Artists are here to disturb the peace.”

Madonna did plenty of disturbing, and was usually pretty blunt about it, even when it came to calling out her fans. The Madame X tour is camera-free and the ringleader took that seriously, twice announcing she thought someone in the audience had a camera, when she was annoyed by a fan’s lit-up hat and demanded he turn it off, or that an exit door was opening and closing frequently. There were moments of levity as well, such as when she asked for someone to bring her a drink. A fan in the front row named Brad, an Army drill sergeant from Kansas City, brought her a beer, which she immediately deemed warm. She poked some fun at him, but it made her seem more approachable. This sort of interaction wouldn’t have worked at an arena show.

Madonna took the stage at 11 p.m. and played until 1:30 a.m. The concert was broken up into five acts, the first of which kicked off with “God Control,” the first of 12 cuts from the Madame X album. In fact, only a handful of older songs made the set, and most of those were shortened or reimagined.

Madonna and a handful of dancers were dressed in 18th-century-style military uniforms, complete with a hat she could have borrowed from the local production of “Hamilton.” She appeared behind a translucent screen showing a tattered U.S. flag that morphed into the interior of a cathedral. Eventually riot police showed up while the video screen showed footage of civil unrest. At the back of the stage stood a double staircase that reached nearly to the ceiling and was composed of pieces that would be moved around throughout the show to form other backdrops.

Every available surface was used as a projection mapping screen, and the show production was amazing. It pushed the performance from concert territory and closer to a Broadway play. Appreciating that was probably important to fully appreciate the show as a whole. If you came expecting to hear the hits faithfully recreated, this show wasn’t for you. If you came expecting Madonna to theorize about the length and girth of Frank Sinatra’s penis and make some other crude genitalia jokes, well, you probably left happy.

After the opening song ended with projections of bullets raining down and Madonna demanding that everyone “WAKE UP,” a steady stream of new material followed.

On “Dark Ballet,” she was joined by string trio dressed as nuns and a pianist wearing a gas mask. The riot police dancers showed up again and this time carried a combative Madonna across the stage. “Human Nature,” from 1994’s Bedtime Stories, got a jazzy treatment and and ended with Madonna leading the audience in an a cappella verse from “Express Yourself.”

Between the first and second acts there was a bit where Madonna changed outfits while standing behind a a screen that had been wheeled on stage. Now dressed in a black trench coat and clad in black sunglasses, she perfectly matched nearly a dozen dancers, who also had blond hair. On “Vogue,” the group climbed up and down the reconfigured stair structures. There was also a part where Madonna was captured by fedora-wearing agents and questioned in a room with a swinging lightbulb during “I Don’t Search I Find.”

In another segment, she pulled out a Polaroid camera and took a picture. She then pretended to sell the picture—we presume it was part of the act—to a fan in the front row for $4,000 cash. Either “Alan who draws comic books” was in on the bit or he’s freshly out of some dough but has a good story to tell.

Madonna sang just one verse of “Papa Don’t Preach” before halting the song to make a statement.

“What did you think of me not keeping the baby?” she asked before going into a talk about reproductive rights. That segment ended with “American Life,” on which she was accompanied by a guitarist and dancer, both dressed in commando uniforms.

The third act was the most interesting. Following an on-stage reenactment of a Navy funeral procession and a mock fight between two of the seamen carrying a casket, the video transitioned to crashing waves. Women dressed in African folk garments marched down the aisles from the back of the room to the stage singing and clapping. This was the Batukadeiras Orchestra, a group of musicians from an island nation off the coast of northwest Africa called Cape Verde. The country was central to the slave trade and the visuals during “Batuka” underscored the heartbreak of the subject matter.

Over the next several songs she sang in Portuguese and in Cape Verdean Creole.

Madonna then explained how moving to Portugal broke her out of a creative funk.

“I moved to Lisbon to be a soccer mom,” she said. “But I met people. I learned Portuguese.”

She spoke of meeting fado singer Celeste Rodrigues and being introduced to that type of music. Rodrigues passed away recently, but Madonna played a bit of one of her songs with Rodrigues’ 16-year-old grandson, who played a stringed instrument similar to a Turkish saz. Other highlights during this segment included the poppy “Crazy” and “Medellín,” which included a group cha-cha dance while a the song’s featured artist, “Maluma,” appeared on video.

The staging for this segment was also top-notch, with a colorful villa, archways and all, set against a starry nighttime sky. On “Extreme Occident,” several of the smaller stage pieces spun around in circles as if they were animated appliances from The Beast’s castle (from “Beauty and the Beast”).

The penultimate act was highlighted by a fully realized version of “Frozen,” from 1998’s Ray of Light. Set behind a projection of her daughter Lourdes doing an interpretive dance, Madonna was alone on stage, this time letting her voice shine by itself. Following several other songs that saw projections of a ruined metropolis, she brought the show with “Like a Prayer” wearing a black robe bedazzled with crosses, leading a choir stationed on the rebuilt staircases to form an “X,” and Madame X cut “I Rise.”

While the performance didn’t change the common perception of Madame X as a disorganized album, Madonna seemed to relish in the noise of it all. She’s using her art to highlight injustice, show love and express herself. She’s doing it in the way she knows best: through contradiction.

“There’s so many paradoxes in this world,” Madonna said Tuesday, both as an observation and a summary of the Madame X Tour.

More at Riffmagazine.com

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Review: Madonna, battling a cold and bad knee, brings fury to late night Madame X concert

It’s a wonder Madonna was ever able to play in vast arenas and stadiums.

At the Golden Gate Theatre on Tuesday, Nov. 5, performing the final date of her three-night Madame X tour residency in San Francisco, the 61-year-old singer seemed to take note of every little distraction in the room: the light-up flower crown someone was wearing in the 18th row; the exit door on the left side of the building that opened and closed a few times when a couple people dared go to the restroom; even the murmurs coming from the darkest corners of the balcony.

“Don’t talk while I’m talking,” she snapped. Adding for good measure, “Don’t talk while I’m not talking.”

To be fair, she is Madonna – a pop icon, cultural shape-shifter, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, mother, hero, survivor and so much more. She’s someone whose perennial desire for control has carried her farther than any of her peers, making her the highest-charting female musician and highest-grossing female touring musician in history.

On Tuesday at the 2,297-capacity Golden Gate Theatre (the concert was originally scheduled for Oct. 31 but delayed due to production issues), Madonna was battling a cold, suffering from a torn ligament and had a bad knee (“and no hours of sleep,” she said), but she still put on a spectacular show.

It was rife with bawdy humor, attitude, sex, loads of swear words and references to her private parts — basically everything you want from a Madonna concert. She demanded the same level of effort from her audience, despite inexplicably sweltering temperatures inside the theatre.

“You’re kind of lazy — just putting that out there,” Madonna said, midway through the show. “It’s OK. Because I’m not.”

Scenes from Madonna’s Madame X tour.Photo: Stufish

Madonna didn’t need to wear a bedazzled patch over her left eye and cloak herself as Madame X. She didn’t need to play a late show on a school night at a small, overheated theater on a dreggy corner off Market Street. She didn’t need to run through a two-hour-plus set crammed with songs from a new album that nobody truly loves.

But Madonna is hardly one to do things the easy way. Rather than book huge tour stacked with hits, which is what most fans who grew up with her music would have most likely preferred, she is slogging her way across the country performing long residencies in small venues in select cities, focusing almost entirely on material from her 14th studio recording, the dark and disorienting “Madame X.”

“I have wanted to have this intimate experience with my audience for three decades,” she said on Tuesday.

Despite the close-up environment, fans got the full Madonna spectacle, complete with 41 musicians, singers and dancers; several costume changes and video vignettes; and a lone typewriter used to clack away epitaphs for the crowd (“Artists are here to disturb the peace,” read a recurring quote from James Baldwin).

The songs on “Madame X,” are all over the place, bouncing between trap, hip-hop, reggaeton, Latin pop and electronic dance music without quite falling, erm, into the groove. Thematically, the record is wide-reaching too – touching on the personal, political, spiritual, sensual and everything in between.

But on stage she brought it all together, highlighting infectious new songs like “Crazy” and “I Don’t Search I Find,” alongside few choice classics such as a faithful rendition of “Vogue,” a capella singalong of “Express Yourself” and a thunderous set-closing “Like A Prayer.”

Scenes from Madonna’s Madame X tour.Photo: Stufish

As she glided across the stage to the retro house groove of the recent single “Crave,” featuring Swae Lee, it become clear where Katy, Miley, Britney, Gaga and Gwen all got their moves and gumption.

For all her defiance, Madonna remains a devoted artist, who elevated each tune with a completely original production revolving around her touring ensemble and theatrical show built around a pair of movable staircases and variety of projections.

Madonna highlighted her family at every turn, featuring oldest daughter Lourdes, 23, dancing in a dramatic video clip accompanying “Frozen;” and employing 13-year-old Mercy and 7-year-old twins Stelle and Estere as part of her live dance crew (maybe a little bit past their appropriate bed times).

She exerted her sense of control to the audience experience, taking the stage a little after 11 p.m. and prohibiting the use of cell phones, smart watches and photography (including press, instead supplying a pair of blurry shots of the stage).

Since its release in June, “Madame X” has sold only 90,000 copies in the US, less than half its predecessor, 2015’s “Rebel Heart,” which moved nearly 250,000 copies (and roughly 9,910,000 fewer copies than her best-seller, 1984’s “Like a Virgin”).

This tour feels like Madonna’s attempt to reestablish herself from the ground up.

Once a wise-cracking pair of eyebrows inseparable from the attitude and energy of New York City, she has spent the past few years dividing her time between her manor in London and a mansion in the village of Sintra, Portugal, where her teenage son David Banda attends a prestigious soccer academy.

At one point in the concert she recreated (with a smidge of cultural appropriation) a Portuguese nightclub on the stage, for a segment that found her playing musical tourist through “Killers Who Are Partying,” a fado flavored cut from the “Madame X” album; a cover of “Sodade,” a song made famous by Cesaria Evora; and the harder-edged “Batuka,” which found her backed by an ensemble of batuque drummers and singers called Orquestra Batukadeiras.

“You won’t see this anywhere else, no siree,” she said.

For the encore song, “I Rise,” the screen behind her came alive with recent news footage of protests and marches in solidarity with the resist movement, but as Madonna sang the verses it became apparent that the song was as much about her as current events: “I managed to survive/ Freedom’s what you choose to do with what’s been done to you.”

The last standing icon from pop’s halcyon days (her closest contemporaries, Michael Jackson, Prince and George Michael each died young) Madonna not only remains alive but she is embracing every moment of her existence.

“Nobody is anybody’s bitch,” she said. “I can’t spell it out any clearer than that.”

She meant it.

More at SFChronicle.com

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Mega Record & CD Fair | Jaarbeurs Utrecht, The Netherlands November 16 & 17, 2019 (DISCOUNT AVAILABLE)

Are you ready for world’s largest record fair at the Jaarbeurshallen in Utrecht on November 16 & 17? For our visitors we have a special discount code available, but is very limited so be quick: GRTS000455RXP

Buy your tickets and use the code through THIS LINK 

Make sure to check your spam box if your tickets haven’t been delivered to your inbox within seconds. 

Dear Crate Diggers,

Only one weeks to go before the 52nd Mega Record & Cd Fair will take place at Jaarbeurs Utrecht on Saturday the 16th and Sunday the 17th of November. At this fair cratediggers, vinyl lovers, musicians and over 600 dealers from all over the globe come together to buy records, attend the Omega vinyl auction and several book presentations, watch live performances by George ‘Little Green Bag’ Baker and Robert Jan Stips and visit exhibitions in the field of music. This Autumn, the fair will show a major photo exhibition with pictures made by photographer Frits van Swoll.

Buy your tickets in advance online and save money & time not standing in the queue. Look for all information and the dealers list on our website or join us on Facebook and Instagram.

We are looking forward to meet you all at the unbeatable Mega Record & CD Fair in Utrecht!

Kind regards, the ARC Team

 

Many thanks to ARC

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Madonna disturbs the peace, enthralls with Madame X Tour (REVIEW)

Madonna, in the midst of her Madame X theater tour, continues to follow fellow trailblazer James Baldwin’s philosophy that “artists are here to disturb the peace.”

In fact, the pop icon opens her 11-city extravaganza — which this writer experienced Oct. 6 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House in New York City— with a passage from the activist/ novelist/playwright containing said quotation.

No stranger to disturbing the peace, Madonna has fueled cultural conversations on age, gender, race, religion and sexuality, among other social mores, over the last 35-plus years. She’s still pushing buttons with her latest live outing, which kicked off Sept. 17 in Brooklyn. Per Billboard Boxscore, the run of 16 sold-out shows at BAM grossed a robust $9.6 million.

Madonna’s previous 10 tours — filling mainly arenas and stadiums — grossed in excess of $1.3 billion, a record among female acts. The superstar will have played 50-odd Madame X shows in eight U.S. cities by year’s end, including four dates at The Met Philadelphia in December. In early 2020, the singer-songwriter heads to Portugal, England and France.

Over the course of her impressive two-hours-plus production, the Queen of Pop invites fans into the world of Madame X, the everywoman persona she adopted for her like-titled 15th album of all-new material. The “master of reinvention,” eager to stand out as a renegade early on, earned the Madame X nickname from Martha Graham while a student at the legend’s dance school.

In Madame X’s world, Madonna, in the guise of a secret agent, travels around the globe, changes identities, fights for freedom and brings light to dark places. Stufish Entertainment Architects created the show’s sets, which include mapped video projection, large-scale video images, staircases and other reconfigurable scenic pieces able to move around like a Rubik’s Cube.

Prior to Madonna taking the stage — which occurs between 10:30 and 11 p.m. — members of her band perform delightful instrumental selections, including several of the icon’s hits missing from the Madame X Tour.

Insistent that audiences watch her latest spectacle through their own eyes — cellphones and smartwatches, for instance, get locked in Yondr cases upon venue entry — Madonna ensures an intimate theatrical experience, minus a sea of devices feverishly capturing moments.

‘Wake up’

In the opening segment, a silhouette figure sits at a typewriter, repeatedly pounding Baldwin’s sentiments — such as the aforementioned quote and “Art is here to prove that all safety is an illusion” — into viewers’ heads. Sounds of gunshots fill the theater, with Madonna appearing in front of a distressed-American-flag backdrop.

The star, wearing a Revolutionary War ensemble complete with feathered tricorn hat, starts to sing “God Control,” which tackles the ever-controversial topic of gun control. With her jaw sounding like it’s wired shut, Madonna, despite such constrictions, vents her anger over America’s easy access to firearms and gun brandishers’ God complex.

Glorious cascading disco strings counter the dark subject matter of “God Control,” with Madonna insisting “we need to wake up.” The singer-dancer brings the joy of disco and freedom, which she enjoyed upon moving from Michigan to New York City at age 19, into a world where trigger-happy individuals silence such joy. During the on-stage chaos, Madonna and her fellow freedom fighters tangle with riot-shield-wielding police officers.

Concert goers have little time to digest “God Control” — whose music video depicts a shooting similar to the 2016 Pulse-nightclub massacre in Florida — before Madonna moves on to the bizarrely fascinating “Dark Ballet.” For this track, Madonna drew inspiration from another of history’s fearless females, burned-at the-stake Joan of Arc. Fittingly, with the warrior canonized as a Roman Catholic saint, religious imagery informs the performance.

Now sporting her ubiquitous “X” eye patch, Madonna tangles with ominous-looking characters in gas masks and floral headgear, dancing the “Dark Ballet,” which she says “we’re all dancing right now, in this world.” Also influenced by Stanley Kubrick’s nihilistic “A Clockwork Orange,” the number features a frantic piano break, plus a vocal distortion set to Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Reed Flutes,” from “The Nutcracker.”

Casual fans hoping Madonna lightens the mood with carefree classics such as “Holiday,” “Open Your Heart,” “Music” and “Hung Up,” take note: those hits and more take a time out for Madame X. Though with a staggering 64 different songs reaching the U.S. and/or U.K. top 10 singles charts, even a tour promising “all the big hits” could never live up to such a pledge.

As with her recent tours, Madonna — in fine voice — leans heavily on new material, performing a dozen “Madame X” tracks. Nonetheless, she revisits her back catalog early on with 1994′s “Human Nature.” A response to the “Erotica”-album/“Sex”-book backlash of 1992, the track reaffirms the singer’s express-yourself-don’t-repress-yourself, no-regrets stance. During the performance, she exhibits her athleticism by doing a handstand in a circular hole.

Madonna, a first-year-eligible 2008 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, follows “Human Nature” with an a cappella chorus of her 1989 female-empowerment classic “Express Yourself.” A slew of females join the sing-along, including youngest daughters Mercy James, Stella and Estere.

Following a “Madame X Manifesto” video interlude, look-alike secret-agent blondes in sunglasses and trench coats parade around as Madonna performs 1990′s game-changing “Vogue.” During “I Don’t Search I Find” — which nods to “Vogue” bass line and Madonna’s “Erotica”-era spoken-word vocals — the singer endures an interrogation by film-noir-/“Dick Tracy”-like detectives.

Politics return via a brief rendition of 1986′s “Papa Don’t Preach,” with Madonna altering a key lyric to “I’m not keeping my baby.” Despite the change, the message of bodily autonomy remains firmly intact.

Madonna then straps on a guitar to revisit “American Life,” in which she realizes “nothing is what it seems” when it comes to living the American dream. To her far right, ripped uniforms descend onto a dancer, with clips from the song’s war-themed fashion-show video — pulled from release around the time of the 2003 invasion of Iraq — as a backdrop. The act closes with soldiers carrying a flag-draped coffin across the stage.

Going global

For the show’s next section, Madonna — in a brunette wig — spotlights the global influences behind her latest album. Upon its release in June, “Madame X” — the singer’s most adventurous and experimental album in more than a decade — became her ninth No. 1 album and 15th top two title on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

Madonna likely was not pondering her next chart feat — or the 300 million-plus albums and singles she’s sold, making her one of history’s most successful recording artists — when she moved to Lisbon, Portugal, in 2017. There to support son David’s soccer career, the Queen of Pop found musical inspiration in the Portuguese capital.

After seeing passionate, not-in-it-for-money musicians perform in living rooms and small clubs, Madonna was intent on turning what she heard upside down, whether fado, morna, funaná or other genres. Aside from Portugal, territories such as Africa, Brazil, India and Spain influenced the musical direction of “Madame X.”

Call-and-response song “Batuka” starts the show’s musical globe-trot, with the dancing, hand-drumming and singing talents of the all-female Orquestra Batukadeiras. Madonna’s “Batuka” music video points out how “Batuque is a style of music created by women that originated in Cape Verde, some say the birth place of slave trade.”

Seeing drumming as an act of rebellion, the church condemned drums and took them away from the slaves. Nonetheless, the women continued singing and dancing, with “Batuka” spotlighting the Batukadeiras’ journey from darkness to light, their souls unbroken. The women also lend their talents to other numbers throughout the evening.

Madonna then opens her fado café, performing a cover of Carlos Zel’s “Fado Pechincha” with Portuguese guitarist Gaspar Varela, great-grandson of late fado singer Celeste Rodrigues. The mood gets more somber with “Killers Who Are Partying.” Here, Madonna pledges to take on the burdens of marginalized individuals, calling out powerful men celebrating and abusing their power, amid minorities’ degradation and suffering.

“Killers,” which tests the devotion of fans wanting the tempo to pick up some, features Portuguese singing in spots, as does “Crazy,” an accordion-infused midtempo love song that brings some classic Madonna pop into the café. A mash-up of non-album track “Welcome to My Fado Club” and the 1986 classic “La Isla Bonita” precedes another fado cover, the 1950s tune “Sodade,” which Cesária Évora popularized in the early 1990s.

Colombian heartthrob Maluma appears via video for festive cha-cha-cha duet “Medellín,” with Madonna then recounting her global identity search in the morna-inspired “Extreme Occident.” The music of India’s Rajasthan, along with tabla music, influenced part of the song.

Rising above

While rehearsing for the Madame X Tour, Madonna teased a possible performance of “Rescue Me,” an oft-forgotten gem from her mega-selling 1990 “Immaculate Collection” compilation. A verse from the song does pop up, albeit as an interlude set to the flailing movements of dancers, before the classic strings of 1998′s “Frozen” fill the BAM venue.

Madonna, wearing a head scarf, remains stationary as she sings the “Ray of Light”-era single, while a mesmerizing giant projection of eldest daughter Lourdes takes over the stage. The pop goddess’ 23-year-old offspring clearly has inherited mom’s spellbinding charisma, presence and gift for performance art.

“Come Alive,” another highlight, contains Madonna-mantra lyrics such as “Stand out, no I don’t wanna blend in, why you want me to?” The music of North Africa’s Gnawa tribe inspired the peace-seeking, see-the-world track, which features an instrument with origins in slavery. Turning darkness into light upon their freedom, slaves transformed the shackles that enslaved them into music — percussion instruments called krakebs.

Though Madonna’s previously performed atop a piano, she takes a seat at the instrument to play “Future,” a Jamaican dancehall track with hip-hop act Quavo about the current state of the world and the future of civilization. Madonna and her troupe then return to the disco for a dance mix of “Crave,” a collaboration with rapper/singer Swae Lee.

For the night’s penultimate number, Madonna, dressed in a black robe, leads a rousing rendition of “Like a Prayer.” Clips from the controversial video, released 30 years ago, surround the singer and her crew, which includes the Batukadeiras choir.

Closing the show, Madonna again champions marginalized individuals. “I Rise,” which she wrote in part to mark the Stonewall uprising’s 50th anniversary, inspires listeners to hope, speak their minds, and stay true to — and love — themselves. Back in June, “I Rise” closed Madonna’s Pride Island set, held during LGBTQ WorldPride NYC festivities.

Madonna and company, fists raised, conclude the night by walking down the center aisle. For a fleeting moment, the icon and fans — in close-enough-to-touch proximity — share a moment of we’ll-rise-above-it-all solidarity.

Such interaction exemplifies the Madame X Tour’s intimacy. Early in the show, Madonna snaps a Polaroid selfie and invites bidders to the front of the stage. She sells the photo to a fan willing to fork over the most cash, a move that may seem very “Material Girl.” However, the philanthropist insists the money — topping $5,000 on occasion — goes to her Raising Malawi charity.

Speaking to the audience more frequently than in past tours, the ever-humorous, chatty Madonna even asks the crowd, “Am I talking too much?” Among other atypical moments, she engages in audience banter and ventures out to dance on one side of the audience.

Madonna’s more personable demeanor, notably, takes nothing away from the levels of showmanship and risk-taking that have defined her storied career. Refusing to play it safe — she easily could mount hits tour after hits tour — Madonna challenges audiences to open their eyes to the world around them, respect her vision and trust that she will deliver her usual powerhouse production.

As Madame X requests in “Medellín,” take a trip with her — she’ll be so good for you.

More at Poconorecord.com

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Madonna Fan Party G-A-Y Late Saturday 25th January 2020

The 2020 Madonna Fan Party event will take place at G-A-Y Late on Saturday 25th January from 3.00pm – the day before Madonna opens her series of shows in London. This will be our 31st event in collaboration with Madonna’s team, and it kicks off three weeks of Madonna Mania as the Queen takes over London.

RSVP here for all the event information: https://www.facebook.com/events/1793343664143175/

Madonna fans from London, the UK and around the world are travelling to London for the opening night of Madonna’s 15-night run. Come and join them all for a non-stop Madonna weekend! With Madonna, her team & dancers in town, you never know who might just pop in….so make sure you’ve got your best Madonna-inspired outfit or Madonna T Shirt on, as we may invite some guests to help us award spot prizes…

Entry as always is free – no ticket is required, however please RSVP as ‘Going’ (not ‘Interested’) on the Facebook Event Page.

Early Entry (aka ‘Queue Jump’) details & Prize Draw details will be published on our Facebook Event Page.

This will be our 2020 event – thanks for all of your continued support over the years. We rely on you making the effort to come to continue these events and to keep them free for everyone.

Madame X is … coming to London. Are you?

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