Madonna revitalized herself artistically with Confessions on a Dance Floor, her pop-and-lockingest album since maybe her debut, and then spent the summer of ’06 on a massive, well-received world tour devoted to pumping up the jams. Said tour has now been trapped in amber for posterity with a DVD/CD combo, The Confessions Tour. The DVD portion is basically an extended version of the special which ran on NBC on Thanksgiving Eve, showcasing the Queen of Pop at her heart-pumping best during one of the tour’s London stops (at Wembley Arena). It’s almost exclusively up-tempo, staged within an inch of its life yet more vivacious than anything she’s done in years. Its CD companion is a pared-down 13 tracks taken from the live show, and good God it smokes. To put it another way: even “I Love New York”? succeeds in this context.
She opens the proceedings with the “I Feel Love”?-sampling “Future Lovers,”? which bleeds into a cover of its spiritual parent. While I’m not the biggest fan of “Future Lovers”? (I called it “the album’s weakest track”? in my Dance Floor review), it sounds nicely futuristic live (well, 1975-futuristic) and works to set the mood. “I Feel Love”? slams into a rearranged version of “Like a Virgin,”? a song I’m frankly surprised Madonna’s still performing live; her voice is better than the song itself. That said, this fresh rub is splendid, touched with both electronica and disco referencesif not exactly “shiny and new,”? it’s at least been polished.
“Jump”? is utterly sensational. Sure, it’s not all that different from the version found on Dance Floor, but it’s so damned exciting to begin with, why mess with it? The disc’s momentum, however, is almost lost to “Confessions,”? wherein we hear a trio of individuals sharing their hard-life “confessions,”? yawn. Next up is “Isaac,”? Madonna’s kinda-Jewish-mystical song, complete with shofar (ram’s horn), which manages to be meaningful without sounding pedantic. The fantastic “Sorry”? follows, with bits of the Pet Shop Boys’ jaw-dropping remix sprinkled about. Hearing Neil Tennant backing up Madonna is a thrill anytime, anyplace, even if it’s recorded; it doesn’t hurt that this version throbs and pulsates like a cobra itching to strike. Play it loudly.
The album closes superbly, with a four-song sequence of “Music Inferno”? (“Music”? to the tune of “Disco Inferno”?and it’s even better than it deserves to be), a reworked “Erotica,”? a fresh “Lucky Star,”? and finally a penultimate take on “Hung Up”? which, incredibly, is actually full of honest-to-God “You are there!”? excitement. There’s not a better way The Confessions Tour could’ve closed. And frankly, who’d have guessed that in 2007 Madonna would release such a smashing live document? Never doubt the lady, folks, ’cause she’ll prove you wrong every time.