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Madonna News - May 2006

The Confessions Tour – Variety Magazine Review

A colorful phantasmagoria, Madonna’s “Confessions” tour opened in Los Angeles Sunday and presented the 47-year-old as a dancing machine with a rather simple need, a beat. “Confessions on a Dance Floor,” Madonna’s dance-oriented album from last year, fills more than half of the 90-minute, encoreless evening. Stripped down as it is, Madge and her creative team pump up every song to larger than life through images on video screens, brilliant lighting and lively movement on the mainstage. A wide ramp cuts down the center of the arena to a smaller stage, which becomes a playground for the dancers and Madonna, who play the entire evening at fever pitch.
Madonna has always allowed her designers to go hog wild, yet here the team has created a cohesive whole, making the entire night engaging regardless of whether she’s singing hits or lesser-known “Confessions” material. She sings with the muscularity of her well-toned body, even turning the album track “Sorry” into a tour de force from vocals alone. The visuals plus the material should prevent her from having to follow “Confessions” with an Act of Contrition tour in which she kowtows to nostalgia to sate her fans’ demands for her pre-“Vogue” standards.
She arrived — 50 minutes after the printed start time of 8 p.m. — at the center-arena stage, climbing out of a giant disco ball that has descended from the ceiling, driving home the point that this is a dance show. The Donna Summer/Giorgio Moroder hit “I Feel Love” was the second song performed, a harbinger of the night, just in case the glittering ball was too subtle — this is music about love and sex, feeling good and enjoying the visceral excitement of music.
Positioned as her re-entry into the dance music arena, “Confessions on a Dance Floor” is no groundbreaking work by any stretch. If anything, it’s a bit retroretro: The timbre of the beats, vocal tweaks and synth sounds bear the sheen of 1985-95, especially Louie Vega productions and Depeche Mode. When “Ray of Light” is performed, its depth beyond most of the “Confessions” songs is almost instantaneously obvious.
While most tunes are performed as recorded, “Music” gets a startling reworking. Number starts with a loop of the intro to “Disco Inferno” as the stage is bathed in deep red. Dancers become roller-skating daredevils as the “Music” riff starts to sprout within “Inferno””Inferno” yet never takes over; Madonna enters and sings the tune straight, allowing “Music’s” “I wanna dance with my baby” lyrics to settle in as if she were offering a salute to Studio 54’s heyday. Despite its excess, it gels convincingly.
Tune feeds into the final four — “Erotic,” which is presented with five couples dancing mild-mannered steps lifted from a Broadway ballroom scene; “La Isla Bonita,” done with on-the-nose visuals; “Lucky Star,” with some early off-key vocals that indicated there are live elements in a show abounding with electronically triggered sounds; and “Hung Up,” the best single on “Confessions,” a dance hit that never quite caught on at the radio.
The Forum, which was sweltering, did Madonna’s voice no favors. She often was shouting, and the reverb added by sound technicians fought with the building’s notoriously bad acoustics. (Sound did improve as the evening wore on).
The ramp and center stage — devices that acts such as the Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi and U2 use to get closer to more audience members — don’t allow Madonna to produce intimate moments. Even when she sat on a stool on the mainstage and strapped on an acoustic guitar to sing the 1998 miss “Drowned World,” the result was as big as a dance track. Proximity, rather than intimacy, is what she delivers; her audience eats it up.
Being who she is, some of the show is bound to raise some eyebrows: The opening montage, set in a stable, borders on bestial porn; she strings together videos on AIDS in Africa, gangs and child abuse in a Clinton Foundation PSA that’s totally out of character with the rest of the program; and she emerges for a segment crucified on a metallic cross, complete with a crown of thorns. And as if she can’t go anywhere without dragging religion into the picture, a quote from the New Testament book of Matthew closes one video segseg and a blowing of the shofar opens a ballad — but looking for a connection within this music seems futile.
source : variety

Listen, look beyond crucifix by Liz Smith

“This is who I am / You can like it or not / You can love me or leave me ’cause I’m never gonna stop.”
So sings Madonna.
Forhet the crucifix. No, really. It has already become the visual image of Madonna’s spectacular (and spectacularly ambitious) “Confessions” concert. But as usual, there is more to M’s work than meets the eye. The “blasphemous” sequence, in which she sings “Live to Tell” suspended on a cross, is accompanied by desperate images and dire statistics about children dying of AIDS in Africa. Why the cross? Don’t ask M, who’ll only tell you her work must speak for itself and she believes in the intelligence and imagination of her audience.
In spite of the crucifix controversy, this show contains some of the great set pieces of Madonna’s career. “Music” is transformed into an homage to 1970s disco in general and John Travolta in his white-suited “Saturday Night Fever” persona in particular. This incredible number is worth the exorbitant price of admission. There is her entrance from the ceiling in a giant glitter ball . . . “Like a Virgin” performed in her dominatrix equestrian outfit, playfully gyrating like a 20-year-old on an oversized saddle . . . “Ray of Light” and “I Love New York,” display Madonna’s impressive guitar licks and her ability to command the stage as a rock-chick extraordinaire. “I Love New York,” which is one of the weakest songs on her “Confessions” album, comes alive, thanks to Madonna’s ferocious in-the-flesh tackle of it. The sinewy, sometimes androgynous singer/dancer channels Iggy Pop in her angry, defiant “Let It Will Be,” and then switches moods instantly with a haunting “Drowned World.” Both songs question fame, in a different frame of mind, reflecting Madonna’s continuing search for peace within this maelstrom of her own making.
There are the head-scratching moments, numbers that don’t come off (“Erotica”) and cringe-inducing profanity directed at the president. (Really, at almost 48 years old, there’s no need for Madonna to engage in juvenile pandering. Especially as she makes her political point powerfully in a video montage that includes George W. Bush existing side by side with Hitler, Mussolini and other charmers.)
Even if you are not especially a Madonna fan, I defy anybody to watch this woman work for two hours onstage and come away unimpressed. (She is greatly assisted by her incredible troupe of dancers, of whom Daniel “Cloud” Campus and Leroy “Hypnosis” Barnes are standouts. But every single one in her cast is brilliant!)
Madonna is determined to tattoo her vision onto her audience and make them think whether they want to or not. She is equally passionate that her fans get the very best of her, doing what they want to see her do. She sings (live), she dances like time has stopped and surely she never fell off that horse! The star provides an ongoing visual feast; almost too much happens on a Madonna stage (and in her head!). She and director Jamie King are over-fond of the giant visuals that back Madonna and can overwhelm her, but these are often beautiful, and for the fans in the nosebleed seats, they’re compensation for watching their idol from a vantage point that reduces her to the size of a postage stamp.
Though they seem polar opposites, Madonna and Marlene Dietrich have a lot in common. Marlene also offered herself as fans wanted to see her – encased in sequined gowns, a shimmy here, a hand gesture there. Madonna’s act is considerably more athletic, but nonetheless a result of iron stamina, perfectionism, self-love and a professional standard that is out of reach by even the most dedicated performers. (Indeed there is an almost Prussian, compulsive work ethic in Madonna’s personality.) Old age and infirmity stopped Marlene, and she drew the curtain on her public self. Madonna is still a young woman, but not a youngster. Watching her aerobic intensity, one wonders how much longer she can do it. And why she wants to continue the brutal grind? Why? Because whatever her art and world attention has meant to Madonna, it hasn’t altered. She has changed in some ways: married, a mother of two, a devotee of religion, but the great need that propelled her from Michigan to Manhattan way back when is as strong as ever. She wants to be adored – she wants to shock, confound, create, never rest on what has been. She looks to the future. Madonna is consumed by ambition and ego yet sometimes longs to free herself.
“Confessions” – which might be subtitled “I’m Still Here Ha! Ha! Ha!” – isn’t a perfect concert, though by the time it reaches N.Y.C. in June, it might be. But it is a perfect showcase for a woman who has imposed her will on the world. And has no intention of loosening her grip.
One of the happiest people at Madonna’s concert was pal Rosie O’Donnell, loaded down with camera equipment. It was her first time out with a digital camera; she usually prefers old-fashioned film – “I love that darkroom smell!” Rosie compared notes with celeb lensman Kevin Mazur, much loved for his talent and good manners. Rosie has long documented Madonna’s concerts. “I send her scrapbooks. I figure when we’re both 80 we’ll be in rocking chairs, going, ‘Ah, remember the “Confessions” tour, honey?’ ”
Maybe. But I have a feeling M will be on her “Madonna 80: Ready, Willing and Still Able” tour.
source : ny post

Catholics cross with Madonna

Madonna wasn’t cherished yesterday by Catholics, who blasted the aging Material Girl for dangling on a cross and wearing a crown of thorns during an L.A. concert over the weekend.
“Why would you take the place of Jesus Christ and do something like this?” asked Leana Lorenzana of Jackson Heights, Queens, outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Lorenzana answered her own question, saying the 47-year-old pop star was grasping for publicity when she stunned a Los Angeles crowd by singing “Live To Tell” while suspended on a mirrored cross.
“All Catholics should protest,” said Evelyn Bonilla, 28, of Suffolk County. “She shouldn’t do this in New York. I don’t know how L.A. permitted this.”
Anthony Quinata said there was no message to be learned from Madonna’s actions.
“I think she’s doing it for shock-value purposes,” said Quinata, 29, a Catholic from Irvington, N.J. “If you don’t acknowledge it, it just goes away. I want it to go away.”
source : new york post

Madonna defends mock crucifixion

Madonna has defended a controversial mock crucifixion in her stage show, saying it is part of an appeal to the audience to donate to Aids charities.
“I don’t think Jesus would be mad at me and the message I’m trying to send,” she told the New York Daily News.
UK and US church groups condemned the stunt after the singer began a 51-date world tour in Los Angeles.
A Church of England statement asked why Madonna felt “the need to promote herself by offending so many people”.
Madonna performed the ballad Live To Tell while suspended from a giant mirrored cross on Sunday’s opening night.
Images of poverty in the developing world were shown on video screens, while numbers ticked away to represent the 12 million African children orphaned by Aids.
“Jesus taught that we should love thy neighbour,” Madonna told the newspaper.

David Muir of the Evangelical Alliance accused the singer of “blatant insensitivity”.
“Madonna’s use of Christian imagery is an abuse and it is dangerous,” he said.
“She should drop it from the tour and people need to find their own means of expressing their disapproval.”
This is not the first time the pop star’s concerts have upset the Church.
In 1990, the Pope called for a boycott of the Blond Ambition tour, in which Madonna simulated masturbation during Like A Virgin.
The video for Like A Prayer also brought condemnation from groups claiming it was blasphemous.
The Confessions world tour will reach Britain in July.
source : bbc

Madonna Blasted for Concert Crucifixion

Less than 12 hours after Madonna crucified herself on a mirrored cross, the Catholic League expressed its discontent with the concert stunt. “Knock off the Christ-bashing,” Catholic League president Bill Donohue said in a statement Monday. “It’s just pathetic.”
“I guess you really can’t teach an old pop star new tricks,” he said. “Poor Madonna keeps trying to shock. But all she succeeds in doing is coming across as a boring bigot.”
The “Confessions” tour continues through Sept. 4 with dates throughout North America and Europe.
source : ap

Messian Madonna

Madonna kicked off her latest world tour with her most controversial stunt ever – a mock crucifixion.
The pop queen wore a crown of thorns and was hung from a mirrored cross to sing her ballad Live To Tell at the Forum in Los Angeles, the first date on her Confessions tour.
Last night, the stunt was shaping up to be the bitterest episode yet in lapsed Catholic Madonna’s stormy relationship with the Church.
Both Catholic and Church of England spokesmen attacked it.
A spokesman for Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the leader of Catholics in England and Wales, said: “To use the crucifixion as a stage prop is a banal perversion of that magnificent event.”
Madonna, 47, has a history of clashes with the Vatican, who labelled her 1990 Blonde Ambition tour “one of the most Satanic shows ever”. The crucifixion appeared to puzzle many of her LA audience rather than offend them, though, as the singer made no attempt to explain the meaning of the imagery.
The show also featured a montage juxtaposing shots of Tony Blair and George Bush with footage of Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden and Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe.
And the star, an outspoken critic of Bush, showed her feelings for the president by changing the lyrics to I Love New York to include an obscene reference to him.
Madonna also had time for plenty of costume changes, including 70s disco outfits and a cape labelled Dancing Queen.
Her raunchiest look poked fun at the idea that she has mellowed into an English country lady. The keen horse-rider wore jodhpurs, high boots and a top hat to whip her male dancers into shape, dragging one around in a leather harness.
The outrageous outfit was one of 30 designed for the tour by French couturier Jean-Paul Gaultier.
He and Madge first got together in 1990, when he designed the Blonde Ambition tour outfits, including her infamous conical bustier.
The Confessions tour is expected to make more than L100million. The UK leg of the tour starts in Cardiff on July 30.
source : daily record

Madge rocks LA

“I want to turn the world into a giant dance floor,” Madonna declared as tickets for her Confessions world tour went on sale.
The 47-year-old disco diva is known for her theatrical, action-packed performances and last night’s sold-out show was no exception.
There were tutus and tiaras, drag queens and diamantes, sequins and sparkles, black corsets and bejeweled belts – and that was just the audience.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Salma Hayek, Rosie O’Donnell and Nicole Richie were among the 20,000 fans dazzled by the two-hour show at the Los Angeles Forum.
“Are you ready to take a ride with me?” the material mum asked as she emerged from a giant disco ball covered with $2 million in Swarovski crystals.
Wearing jodhpurs and a top hat, the equestrian style outfit was matched with black and white footage of racehorses flashing on the huge screens at the back of the stage. Male dancers moved to the music like animals, with leather harnesses around their necks. Madonna mounted them, whipped them and seduced them.
A backstage spy said Madge had been “more finicky than ever” about the dancers – “her gifted and naughty children”.
“She tells them off if they dare to yawn or sigh or ask for a breather. Those dancers are basically in boot camp. She’s pretty scary!”
Just like their taskmaster, the dozen dancers did not stop for a second. They roller-bladed and back-flipped, break-danced and boogied. They even put on a Cirque-du-Soleil-style show during one of the songs.
It was a visual feast with more than six different costume changes, none straying far from Madonna’s love of lycra.
Like a Virgin was a real crowd pleaser. Madge cranked up the kinky factor and strapped herself into a silver-studded saddle that was attached to a pole, and circled above the audience.
One of my favourite outfits was a black bomber jacket that sparkled as she sang I love New York all rock’n’roll style with a Les Paul guitar.
Coming close behind was the super sleek, 70s style white suit she wore in a disco-flavoured section of the show when she sang Music and successfully showed off some Saturday Night Fever/ John Travolta moves.
Gold metallic balloons fell from the ceiling as she called to the crowd to sing along.
“Don’t make me stop this car,” she joked when the audience didn’t sing to her satisfaction. “Come on, you lazy (rhymes with suckers), SING!”
So we did. And we danced. She dazzled us some more. And then it all seemed to be over in a flash.
I left mesmerised, amazed, exhausted and astounded by her stamina. There’s no need to worry that this may be Madonna’s final tour. She certainly shows no sign of slowing down any day soon.
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