Photo courtesy of Giorgio
Gosh, where do I start? My head is still a mess and I can't feel my legs- I only feel this destroyed, physically, after her show. So, let's try to sort the impressions out.
This was the only time I didn't have to travel to another city/country in order to attend her concerts. I was also lucky that the Milan show was announced *last year in November*, so that was a pretty sure deal. I was also lucky to see it first among a lot of fans, so I hope my review will give her justice and that the fans will get a clearer idea of what to expect - if they want to know. (:
Apart from waiting in the burning sun for a few hours outside and from being heavily pushed around by a herd of the Italians, once we were let in (at around 6:15pm), I got to see a glimpse of the rehearsals. I got there just in time, because all the good places around the stage were getting taken. I can assure you that buying Early Entrance ticket WILL pay off, since the best place to be, as I wrote last night on Twitter, is closely around the catwalk (or in the Golden Triangle, naturally). If you stand aside, you won't see back of the stage, where she is performing most of the time. I, being quite unspoiled for this tour, didn't really know there were stairs on the catwalk, that completely block the view. So, there's a little tip for ya.
Martin Solveig started his set at around 8pm and didn't leave the stage until 9 - I always feel sorry for opening acts. No one really gives a shit. True, he played Madonna's songs and in those moments the crowd was a little bit woken up. Solveig is not the best DJ in the world, but will do the job.
For me, the period between 9 and 9.30/10pm, the time you have to wait for her to get her ass on stage, is the worst. This time it wasn't that bad: you get to see a lot of things going on on stage and if you're in good company, you might even find out some interesting facts about the technical parts of the show.
And then, at around 9.55pm, the show started.
"Act of Contrition" / "Girl Gone Wild" (meets "Material Girl")
I loved the opening: very religious, very Madonna - although, I think nothing will ever top the "Confessions" tour opening, ever.
(you will notice my comparisons to CT in this post, and I'll tell you why later.)
The scene of her inside that prayer box was amazing: and "Oh My Gods" in behind really help build up the atmosphere! Like every first show of her concerts, you don't really see anything or anyone else but her, so it's only halfway through the song that I noticed the (HOT) dancers being half-naked and that the choreography is the same as in the video.
I never liked this song. But, it's exciting because that's when Madonna first gets on the catwalk and you get to see how STUNNING she looks in person (in case you forgot or it's your first concert). Seriously, she looks better than ever (younger lover are quite a miracle, eh?) and I noticed a change on her ass (lol) - it looks different, maybe she had some work done. Either way, it looks great. I'm sure the Lil Wayne backdrop was good too, but I didn't really look that way anymore hehe.
Well, it was like watching a Tarantino film. Live. A celebration of blood and killing, where Madonna is the winner (well, duh). Since this song isn't really a club song (which is different from being a good song to dance to), it really looked like a theatrical performance - which a Madonna concert is.
"Papa Don't Preach"
This is where I noticed her vocals have gotten better! I loved the fact she performed the original version, although it was funny when she sang "You should know by now, I'm not a baby" - I giggled a bit. And the crowd was excited- finally something for her older fans, too. AND: there's a nice look at her boobs when she is carried by her dancers, so make sure you're on the right side of the stage (wink wink).
"Hung Up" (MDNA remix)
I just LOOOOVE this version! The rope dance routine really distracts you from the backdrop, which is a little confusing. The dancers are doing an amazing job.
"I Don't Give A" (rock remix)
Damn, the woman can rap! A great close-up moment, very similar to "Human Nature" from "Sticky&Sweet" tour: just Madonna and her guitar. The stage lifts up a bit, so the view is really good. The Nicki Minaj backdrop looks really amazing. The ending of the song is maybe the best of all endings. Just wow. The concert should've ended this way. After the "There's only one queen and that's Madonna" part (where Madonna's face is clearly saying: You got that?), everything turns religious again and the music fits perfectly everything that's going on on stage. Really amazing.
"Best Friend"/"Heartbeat" (interlude)
This was a "what the hell?" moment for me. The backdrop videos (yes, I love her backdrops) were shot in a cemetery, and occasional writings such as "Immortality" or "Hope" show up, as if they were written on the tombstone. It didn't make much sense to me. The "Best Friend/Mash-up" isn't the best either. I guess the fact she was too busy doing her film, hence didn't have the time to really dedicate herself to this tour really shows in this part. As if she didn't know what to put, so she randomly put this video. The dancers were kinda worth watching, which I did, in the end.
"Express Yourself" (meets "Born This Way")
Wow - this tour is really starting to look like "The Girlie Show"! And I love "The Girlie Show"! Everything turns into Pop art meets majorettes. For me, "Express Yourself" is always a great tune to dance to. The backdrop video was pure perfection. From Rosie The Riveter to Roy Lichtenstein scenery.
And then comes "Born This Way", something completely unnecessary. From the moment I heard about it, I hated it. She just ruined everything with it. I'm really indifferent when it comes to Gaga, but this was really pointless. Ok.
"Turn Up the Radio"
As the next single, the song has potential. I'm not a big fan of it, but after I heard it live, I started appreciating it more. This was where she asked us to sing along and she mentioned the Golden Triangle crowd. "You sang this with me at the rehearsals, I'm counting on you!" She sounds ok, with a few flaws. Another classing guitar moment.
"Give Me All Your Luvin'" (Just Blaze remix)
Nope - I still hate this song. With all my heart. And remixing it down didn't really help. The dance is amazing, though. Really pumps it up for you. The male dancers start appearing from behind the screens: and they're flying! And she didn't sing this one live. Maybe it was for the best.
"Open Your Heart" (meets "Sagarra Jo" by Kalakan)
Ahhh this was a nice surprise! I completely forgot the song was on the setlist. Classic! And I LOOOOOVED the mash-up with Sagarra Jo! And she really knows the lyrics! This sounds really good live, and Kalakan are great - Madonna then introduces them to the audience. The Serbian fans will love this part, I think ('cause I did) - it looks like she got to know our culture!
This is when Rocco gets on stage - he's a real cutie! Madonna warns the audience he's shy and they warmly welcome him.
She then made a little speech, thanking her Italian fans for their support for over thirty years. She spoke about love and unity and said she guessed "The Italians do it better... kind of."
"Masterpiece" (feat. Kalakan)
This is the ballad-moment I've been waiting for: really emotional, with scenes from W.E in the background. She looks over to Brahim, sitting next to her, and she looks happy. With Kalakan singing back vocals, everything sounds just perfect.
"Justify My Love" (William Orbit remix—interlude)
This is, hands down, the sexiest thing I've ever seen in my entire life. Damn. Filmed during the "Truth or Dare" fragrance campaign shooting, this is just perfect. Dita is definitely back! Orbit did a great job on the remix.
I'd suggest you check your pants after this one.
The costumes! Oooohhh, the costumes! I was 2 years old when "The Girlie Show" was going on, but seems like she made sure everyone who missed it had another chance! Such a classic! This segment of the show was surely my favorite and "Vogue" was just the bet way to start.
Another performance taken straight from the year of 1993. Everything goes pink, the stage turns into a bordel, and Madonna plays a boss, encountering everyone on stage. It was less "free" than in Istanbul or Abu Dhabi, but nevertheless sensual. And then comes "the dance" with Brahim: "yeah, he's my much younger lover and he adores me: problem?" This is where I realized Brahim was very relaxed on stage, een though I always thought he had a poker-face and no opinion on anything. Seems like the guy is really what Madonna was looking for - a guy with an attitude.
Striptease time! And she's good at it, too. I think everyone secretly hoped she would show another body part, and luckily she didn't (my opinion on her showing her boob in Istanbul is far from a positive one). And the end of the song she asked: "Are you ready to live dangerously?" The "No Fear" tattoo really matched the mood.
"Like a Virgin"
Hey! This looks like "The Girlie Show" performance too! Except it's less interesting to watch and more interesting to listen. I liked it, even though it's really slow, but her vocals are good and the piano follows it perfectly. The poor dancer trying to zip her corset had a hard time doing it, once again, and he looked really nervous. When he pulls the strings of it, it looks surreal: her body literally disappears but she was still able to sing! Not a big fan of the song per se, but this version got a nice second place, right behing the CT one.
"Nobody Knows Me" (interlude)
What can I say? We all saw this. A masterpiece. Although, the slides could've gone a bit slower, so people have time to realize who is she mocking. The crowd gave a big hand to the deceased young men shown in the end, which was very respectful. This time, I paid more attention to the amazing rope dancers; it looks spectacular live.
My favorite song off the new album (aside from "Some Girls" she didn't perform, grrrrr). The costume and the lights were amazing: but I was the only one dancing in the wide range of five meters around me. I guess her poor dance routine to this song killed the crowd's will too. But I didn't care.
"I'm a Sinner" (meets "Cyber-Raga")
Madonna goes hippy! The train backdrop caught me by surprise until I remembered she mentions it in the song (still, though?). I still don't like this song, it has too much resemblance to "Runaway Lover" and the lyrics are a bit tedious.
Everything gets better when the Kalakan is back on stage, supporting Cyberraga - again, these kind of additions are always a nice refreshment, and the backdrops for this song, and the transition to "Like A Prayer" were well done.
"Like a Prayer"
This song will always have a great performance, and the crowd went mad. Like every time, it's all about dancing and singing and it made me feel I was attending S&S again. Nothing new there, yet still amazing, every time.
As the last song, it really stands up. The backdrops were horrible and the performance was not that powerful, to be honest. Her dancers are doing their best and you can see Rocco again, dancing, which was a nice thing to see. It was a big "meh" for me.
As always, as soon as the show ended, she left the building and the workers started putting the stage to pieces. Yet, some people were surprised.
Now, I don't know if you saw The MDNA review by the Italian "Vogue". They pretty much slammed her, but I gotta say: they are pretty right. This was definitely not her best tour ever but, as a big fan, she really can't disappoint me. Sure, there are some things in this concert I found wrong or didn't like, but people need to realize: Madonna's show IS a theatrical performance, and not a conventional rock show. She even said it herself. And yes, her new songs might not stand up to the old ones. And yes, the stage kinda sucks.
My first tour was "Confessions". I was lucky to have been able to see it, because it's going to really take some effort to reach its brilliance, and the fact Madonna was into everything but her music lately can be felt, both in this and the S&S tour.
But her concert are worth going and they always will be.