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Madonna getting younger with age

Two years after her last visit, and just one week after news broke of her impending divorce from husband Guy Ritchie, 50-year-old pop queen Madonna settled in for the first of two sold-out nights before 17,800 fans at the Bell Centre. And the party was most definitely on.

Relatively speaking, of course. The renowned perfectionist plans her shows to the T, and sticks to script every step of the way. But her music (particularly that of her last two albums) has stayed self-consciously young. And to her credit, despite rumours of her rigid stage presence – which was very much the case in 2006 – Madonna actually seemed to be having fun.

This was a looser show than the last – less bogged down by elaborate props, and leaving more room for Madge, her dancers and band to interact. A matrix of state-of-the-art screens, and hydraulic platforms provided the setting for her and her entourage to entertain.

After an elaborate video intro – featuring a candy factory/pinball game montage – she emerged on a throne, a leg provocatively straddled over one of the arms. The song was Candy Shop, off her new album Hard Candy. “Get up out of your seats,” she sang, as she and eight dancers pranced about to the clubby groove.

Video cameos dotted the evening, with the main players of the pop new school – Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake – each making virtual appearances.

The performance was divided into four thematic segments: Pimp, NY Old School, Romani Gypsy and Rave Armageddon. A highlight of the first was the funky Beat Goes On (with Pharell), in which she and her dancers rolled down the catwalk in a Rolls Royce.

It was the second set, however, that stood out most. With Keith Haring videos playing on the big screens, Madonna and her entourage literally skipped (with ropes) their way through a dance remix of Get Into the Groove, decked out in colourful ’80s costumes.

Borderline was one of several songs she performed with electric guitar in hand (a first for her). She unmasked an array of Madonna wannabes (her dancers, dressed up as her different incarnations) in She’s Not Me, and rocked the house in the subway-and-graffiti-themed Music. This last number drew huge cheers – Madonna was at her best when sending up her New York City roots.

Montrealer Ric’key Pageot got his moment in the spotlight. Playing keyboards for on the tour, he accompanied her in a dramatic rendition of The Devil Wouldn’t Recognize You, in which she crouched then stood atop his piano, clad in a black cloak.

If songs such as Human Nature and Spanish Lesson fell flat, those instances were few and far between. Miles Away was a mid-show standout, as the room sang and clapped along to the infectious chorus. It was one of the few truly communal moments of the night.

Madonna isn’t one for singalongs. She would prefer her fans marvel at the spectacle. On this tour, she struck a compromise. Deadline meant an early exit, and missing the hits 4 Minutes, Like a Prayer and Hung Up.

But she had already pulled off an unlikely feat: getting younger with age. And she’ll do it all over again, tonight.

source : the gazzete