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Madonna tops her own theatrics again with creative show

Major headliners coming to Atlantic City is certainly commonplace. Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Van Halen, Aerosmith, KISS, Phish, the Dave Matthews Band and Metallica — just to name a few - have all thrilled fans with their over-the-top live shows here.
But there’s something special - an increase in energy, excitement and overall buzz - when Madonna comes to town.
Some of it is respect. She’s the world’s best-selling female recording artist and most successful solo artist in history and constantly reinvents herself to remain relevant in the ever-changing, always challenging pop music industry.
Some of it is curiosity. What will Madonna do this time around?
But mostly, it’s because Madonna never, ever disappoints with her theatrical live shows. And Saturday’s latest offering - 'The MDNA Tour,' named after her latest release - proved Madonna, at 54 years old, remains the greatest pop touring act in the world. And frankly, no one is even close.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s creativity was once again running rampant this time around as she did everything from staging a bloody shootout to being hogtied and abducted by masked dancers to offering a striptease, all while surrounding herself with stellar dancers, amazing production and even an entire drum corps suspended in midair.
A sold-out Boardwalk Hall was treated to what Madonna describes as a 'journey of a soul from darkness to light,' but the bottom line is that Madonna is the ultimate show woman, the P.T. Barnum of pop theatrics who isn’t afraid to cross any line if it means entertaining the masses.
With numerous costume changes that had the remarkably fit and still-gorgeous star in costumes that included a badass gunslinger and baton twirler, Madonna’s energy is nothing short of impressive. Most 20-year-olds can’t perform for two hours like Madonna does.
But no matter how great Madonna’s showmanship is, no one would be there if her songs weren’t any good. And those not fond of 'MDNA' might have been slightly disappointed with the night’s selections since about 10 songs from the new album were either performed, sampled or featured in an interlude, comprising about half of the night’s material.
Like the Material Girl’s most recent efforts, 'MDNA' heavily taps into electronic dance music nicely melded with Madonna’s pop sensibilities. While not her finest effort, 'MDNA' has some standouts, particularly the catchy opener 'Girl Gone Wild' and 'Turn on the Radio.' But 'I Don’t Give A,' where Madonna unnecessarily trotted out an electric guitar, and 'I’m Addicted' will be quickly forgotten for good reason: they are unmemorable ditties that barely work better live than the album tracks.
Of course any superstar who has been performing for more than 30 years is going to have a catalog so vast that fans will be unhappy with was left off the setlist. And on the “MDNA” tour, in particular, Madonna made it pretty clear that this was not a greatest hits tour.
The songs she didn’t play - including 'Music', 'Ray of Light', 'La Isla Bonita', 'Frozen', 'Material Girl', 'Lucky Star' and others - are testament to the amazing career Madonna possesses.
And even though Saturday night seemed a little lighter than past tours when it came to delivering hits, there were still plenty. She offered crowd-pleasers such as 'Papa Don’t Preach', 'Holiday', 'Vogue', 'Express Yourself' and 'Like a Prayer,' but some of the other hits were re-tooled to give fans something a little different.
For example, 'Express Yourself' was mixed with excerpts from Lady Gaga’s 'Born This Way' - perhaps to show the audience how similar they are - along with 'She’s Not Me' from Madonna’s 'Hard Candy' album. And 'Like a Virgin' contained samples from Abel Korzeniowski’s 'Evgeni’s Waltz.'
The most impressive reinvention was 'Open Your Heart,' which she performed with the Basque group Kalakan that included excerpts from Kalakan’s 'Sagarra jo!' The Spanish band also made other contributions throughout the show, including 'Masterpiece' and 'I’m a Sinner,' both from 'MDNA.'
Although not the greatest singer, Madonna has personality in her vocals that definitely make up for any deficiencies. And she remains a great dancer with a keen sense of quirky choreography that works for her and her dancers.
The production was better than any Broadway show you will see. With a crisp video screen that stretched wide across the stage and tall above the performers, the multimedia experience made the show seem more like a live movie than a concert.
The dancers were worth the price of admission themselves. Early on, the male dancers showed off remarkable moves in high heels and later bounced on and jumped off stretchy ropes and freaked people out when by contorting their bodies.
The only gripes about Madonna were things not related to her show. In typical Madonna fashion, she had Boardwalk Hall management keep the temperature of the hall pretty toasty - about 80 degrees - which is really annoying when she made the crowd wait until about 10:30 p.m. to take the stage, leaving the crowd waiting well over an hour after opener DJ Paul Oakenfold left the stage.
The MDNA Tour is poised to become one of the top-grossing tours of all time. And with good reason. Madonna remains not only on top of her game but makes everyone else try to raise theirs. One of her most creative and artistic tours ever, she will have a hard time topping this. But don’t ever bet against her.

From / Review by Scott Cronick


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"The MDNA Tour is poised to become one of the top-grossing tours of all time."

Well of course it is - the ticket prices are eye-wateringly high.

@ngl: I don't think it's ageism. I personally think it's mroe the fact that, from MDNA, GMAYL is the only single that has been truly radio-friendly, imho. Had Katy Perry sung this, I would bet my bottom Dollar it would have got to Number 1!!!!! I don't think Madonna really gains any new fans these days (as is often the case with long-established stars).


@ Joseph NeSmith- thankyou for explaining the video and it turns out that the I-Tunes Australia Video for TUTR is a 'censored edit'- but is sold as the 'explicit version' and I've been tricked! In my clearly 'edited' version the braless woman in overalls always appears briefly, and is always in a 'deep shadow', thus you have to look really closely to see that its a woman, and it is basically impossible to see her breasts due to the quick edit and shading. Madonna looks great in the video, so I don't care who is in the car because my eyes are on her! Shame Madonna felt the need to put a topless woman in the video, it's hurt her chances of getting the video played widely, and God knows Madonna has enough trouble getting her music/videos supported by the media these days without creating her own barriers. I thought TUTR was going to be this global summertime hit!! Since 2008 Madonna has only had one global hit (4 Minutes)- strange because her singles since then have been decent and radio friendly. I think it's ageism!

Joseph NeSmith

ngl, the woman in the overalls that Madonna picks up from the gas station has her breasts hanging out as they are driving down the road. They keep popping out from her overalls since she's not wearing any under garment.

That's what got the 'explicit' label for the video.


I also agree it's a great video! :-) M looks incredible!


A kind review; but to say it's one of her most creative and artistic tours yet! Sorry but no, that would be either "The Confessions Tour 2006" (THE best IMO), "Blond Ambition Tour 90", "The Girlie Show 93" or "The Reinvention Tour 2004". He should proofread- it's "Turn Up The Radio" not "Turn On The Radio". On the subject of "TUTR", its video that I downloaded from the Australian I-Tunes site is classed as 'Explicit', however the video is positivley G rated! The You Tube version is equally tame. Madonna fans, can anyone explain what is 'explicit' about the "Turn Up The Radio" video??? Is there some alternate video to the song out there that I'm unaware of?? It's a great song yet it has been universally overlooked. The single with remixes deserve a physical release- I know I'm not alone in being a avid collector, her record company could at least have a limited number of physical CD copies made for her fans.


Boardwalk Hall is a great venue to see Madonna. Not too big, not too small--just right! I saw her in 2008 and it was one of the best shows ever! Treasured memories, and know this show was every bit if not more grand!

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