THE MOTHER of Re-Invention has re-invented herself yet again. And this time, Madonna’s finally admitting it. When The Material Girl, Madge, Esther — take your pick — brings her aptly titled Re-Invention Tour to the Air Canada Centre tonight (for the first of three sold-out shows), concert-goers will be getting a decidedly less raunchy, more preachy evening of music than they’re used to.
Can you say less sex, more politics and religion?
Given it’s been 11 years since Madonna played in T.O.with her much more lascivious Girlie Show Tour at SkyDome, clearly a lot has happened over the past decade to lead to such a dramatic, more mature transformation.
Especially since the 45-year-old singer-dancer has succeeded in shocking us over the past twenty years with her various naughty and rebellious looks, actions, videos and books like Sex, etc.
In a sentence, she’s grown up. Or seems to have.
Two children (seven-year-old daughter Lourdes, a.k.a. Lola, and three-year-old son Rocco), a happy second marriage to British filmmaker Guy Ritchie, who’s ten years her junior (who would have thunk it?) and her study of the Jewish mysticism known as Kabbalah will do that to you.
She’s most recently stated that she chose the Hebrew name Esther for herself as a follower of the religion, prompting huge laughs amongst her critics.
“I’m a little bit irritated that people think that it’s like some celebrity bandwagon that I’ve jumped on, or say somebody like Demi (Moore) has jumped on,” Madge told 20/20’s Cynthia McFadden in the only interview she’s granted thus far while on tour.
“We take it very seriously.”
But when McFadden asked her if there was a reigning philosophy in her household, Madonna replied: “Clean up your s–t.”
A great answer but didn’t we all expect a little bit more in the way of sage wisdom from this female powerhouse?
Especially one that’s rumoured to be visiting fertility clinics in L.A. in an effort to have a third child?
“She’s a pop force to be reckoned with, or certainly was,” Canadian singer K.D. Lang told the Toronto Sun. “And has tremendously placed the bar way above where it was for women in music before (her). She’s been an immense help to women in music.”
That may be so, but there’s been some serious career mis-steps in the past couple of years including Madonna’s obvious manoeuvres to re-capture the youth market.
She hooked up with the far inferior Britney Spears for her Me Against The Music video having earlier famously kissed her at the MTV Awards, appeared in a Gap ad alongside Missy Elliott who remixed Get Into The Groove, and became the author of children’s books that have received mixed reviews. (She just released the third installment in a five-book series.)
And what about those seriously bad movies — 2002s’ Swept Away, directed by Ritchie, and 2000’s The Next Best Thing, — and two of her less-than-stellar albums — 2003’s American Life and 2000’s Music?
Still, to come this year, is production on a Martin Scorsese-produced musical called Hello Sucker!, which doesn’t exactly sound like a winner.
Does great art come from personal suffering? In Madonna’s case, it would appear so.
At the L.A. launch of her Re-Invention trek back on May 24, I kind of missed the gender-bending, provocative artist of old.
Even her 2001 Drowned World Tour, while having fewer chestnuts from the Madonna catalogue, was a way more visually stunning show.
And despite those breathless British tabloid reports of simulated lesbian sex and getting electrocuted on stage during the Re-Invention production — neither materialized. (The supposed electrocution saw Madonna strapped into an electric chair but that was about as exciting as it got.)
Not that she entirely disappointed. On the contrary.
If Madonna really excels at one thing in this world, it’s her live performances. Why else would her three dates in Toronto — she also plays tomorrow night and Wednesday night — sell-out in a record-setting 80 minutes?
She’s an incredible dancer, if not an incredible singer, and she does possess clarity of vision, designer style and a healthy sense of humour.
For example at the Los Angeles tour opener, the reworking of Get Into The Groove, was a hilarious bit of staging which featured Madonna in a kilt — in a shout-out to her husband’s ancestry — accompanied by bagpipers and drummers.
And all those years of serious yoga practice seemed to have really paid off as she emerged from beneath the stage on a platform for the show opener Vogue and immediately went into a stand where she placed her entire body weight on her forearms.
Still, Madonna was hurting for all her physical efforts with a nude bandage on her right forearm and a black tensor bandage around her left knee visible on opening night.
Hey, if the healthy specimen that is Madge is vulnerable, what hope is there for the rest of us?
While Lang, an L.A. resident for the past couple of years, didn’t attend any of Madonna’s shows on the West Coast — “I wouldn’t really be that engaged in Madonna’s tour at this point. I’ve seen here like three times already!” she commented — another prominent, if younger Canadian female artist had plans to catch Madonna in Toronto.
Napanee, Ont., pop-rock teen sensation Avril Lavigne, said she’s more of a fan of the pop icon than the musical artist.
“I have a lot of respect for her because she has longevity and she’s been around for so long and she’s always changed her style and been evolving and I think she’s a really strong woman and she’s always surprising people,” Lavigne told the Sun.
“And I think she’s smart, a very smart business woman. I really like her. I’m not saying I’m a fan. I’m saying her, Madonna, what she has done, what she has accomplished, I look at that and I have a lot of respect for her. I’m curious to see what her show’s like.”
So what can fans expect tonight, tomorrow night and Wednesday night?
An hour-and-50-minute show that’s big on production and costume changes and heavy on the hits — with such ’80s gems as Papa Don’t Preach, Crazy For You and Holiday featured prominently — and plenty of Bush-bashing during the title track from American Life.
Yes, after wimping out earlier and pulling the original video for American Life from music video channels — apparently out of sensitivity to the troops in Iraq — she’s finally showing those controversial visuals in concert as Bush and Saddam Hussein share a cigar.
Madonna is also being followed by a documentary crew, a la Truth Or Dare, and they were highly visible on launch night as they filmed a proud Ritchie beaming near the front of the stage.
Next up for The Material Girl is a planned tour of Israel’s holy places in October with a group of more than 100 students studying Kabbalah.
Apparently, she’ll be staying in an out-of-the-way guest house, avoiding fans and TV cameras. (Now that better make it into the documentary.)
Otherwise, she most recently got bought out of her share of Maverick Records by parent company Warner Music Group and won the right to exclude hikers from her $23-million English country estate saying they would have destroyed her right to a private family life.
Maybe Madonna will concentrate on being a gardener next. Pregnant, barefoot and in her English garden.
Seems like a good place for Esther.
source : toronto sun