Friday, July 17, 2009

Her Sugar Is Raw

You know in the video for Papa Don't Preach, Madonna wears that t-shirt that says "Italians Do It Better"? Well, after her show last night in Udine, I'd have to agree. Not only did Madonna totally bring her A-game for two solid hours, but the sold-out crowd of over 40,000 sang along, danced, and showed their love for their favourite Italian-American girl.
I arrived at the venue at 2:30 PM. I know that seems a little early, especially since the doors didn't even open until 6, but I REALLY wanted to be up close. It turns out that everyone else had the same idea, and my place in line was still 1/4 mile away from the entrance. It was hot and sunny, and every so often, the polizie came by to hose everyone down.
So, after hours of standing in line and running into the stadium like crazy people, I managed to get a spot about 5 metres from the stage. The opening act was Paul Oakenfold, probably one of the world's most famous DJs. His 45-minute set was tight and infectious, and after hearing him spin, it's easy to see why everyone from Radiohead to Justin Timberlake wants him to remix their songs.
After Oakenfold, the crowd was almost electric, as we all knew Madonna would be on stage very soon. The sun went down, and we all waited. Of course, as is par for the course, she was 45 minutes late, but as soon as the lights went down, all was forgiven.
Even though it's still the Sticky & Sweet Tour, Madonna changed the set list a little bit for this leg. She replaced "Hearbeat" and "Borderline" with "Holiday" and "Dress You Up," which, even though I love "Borderline," I've been waiting to hear "Holiday" live forever. She also deleted "Hung Up" in favour of "Frozen" and "Open Your Heart," a wise move.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Madonna is a born performer, and you can tell she puts so much of herself into each show. Not just in the planning and rehearsal, but into every performance, every night, in every city. It's all very high-production, with lights, video screens, platforms, instruments, costumes, and dancers. She even drives down the catwalk in a vintage Rolls Royce during "Beat Goes On," then performs a double dutch dance to "Into The Groove." Again, I was impressed with how she makes her older songs new again. The "Holiday" remix was warm and emotional, and her new wave "Dress You Up" had elements of The Knack's "My Sharona."
She also took a moment to pay tribute to Michael Jackson (a video of which can be seen on her website). And just before "You Must Love Me," she asked us all to take a moment to say a prayer for the men who died earlier that day in Marseille while constructing the stage for her next show. But through all of that, the message was clearly one of hope, gratitude, and living life to the fullest.

After this tour is over, Madonna will be releasing another greatest hits compilation, which will complete her contractual obligations to Warner Brothers records, where she's been since the beginning of her career. I'm interested to see where her career will go after this. My guess is she'll continue to influence, set trends, and totally rock out. And you can bet I'll be in the crowd the next time she goes on tour.

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