Monday, May 29, 2006

Confessions Of A Closet Madonna Fan

I stood in the winding line at the Forum before the first show of Madonna’s tour last week after doing the unthinkable. I crossed a picket line of displaced Forum workers. The venue’s owner apparently dismissed long-time workers in favor of minimum wage peons. The usual tale of American labor in the 21st century. However, I did heed their request not to buy concessions or souvenirs inside the Forum.

I’m not used to big concerts. My days of stadium shows for the likes of U2 and the Stones are long gone. I see all the gay gays and 40 year old housewives reliving their teen years and felt out of place. This wasn’t my usual punk rock crowd. Just before the show started, I called my cousin April who, like moi, has maintained a love/hate relationship with Madge all these years. I take my seat and have a nice conversation with a gay guy, discussing the dress rehearsal details pegged on the Madge fan sites.

We traded our first Madonna memories. He saw her Virgin tour, with the Beasties opening. “When did you first see her?” he asked me. My first Madonna memory featured some unnamed one shot TV dance show out of New York. She sat on a panel and had a short ratty ‘do, harlequin glasses and performed a song-Everybody, I think. The song wasn’t particularly good, but there was something about her.

The show began 45 minutes late. Madge appeared out of her $2 million Swarovski crystal disco ball in equestrian /domatrix gear, with buff male dancers writhing around in bits. In top hat and jodhpurs, Madge slaps a riding crop. Even though I liked Confessions On A Dance Floor, Madonna’s artistic pinnacle was 1998’s Ray Of Light. But Madonna’s worst song far outshines any current Carrie Underwood/Jessica Simpson flavour of the day tripe.

Madge can shake it for an old broad. Yep, that’s not a hologram bending and stretching on the dancers poles. With a whole t-shaped stage to traverse, the usual cast of dancers the show definitely, but then again Madge never was partial to rock ‘n’ roll. All Madonna’s stage shows have been highly choreographed extravaganzas rather than fan-friendly, spontaneous affairs. The Confessions show is 1/3 Cirque de Soilel, 1/3 Vegas, and 1/3 Studio 54. The capacity crowd loved it. Also, the next fat ass guy who slags Madonna is getting a kick in the balls, cause that woman is in shape. I don’t care what a c-word she is in real life, you’ve got to give her credit for maintaining her physique and performing a two hour stage show that would fatigue a person half her age. On the way out of the Forum, a fan in her early 20s raved in amazement. "I couldn’t believe how fit she was. She’s two years older than my Mom, and my Mom is in shape."

A break in the dance segments occurs when guest vocalist Isaac Sinwanhy played ram's horn and sang vocals on Drowned World and Paradise (Not For Me.) And she also performed Isaac, the song that got her in hot water with traditional Kaballists. Hey, at least she’s taking an interest in something other than faux BDSM. Remember Body Of Evidence?

For Like A Virgin, Maddie cavorts on a stripper pole/mechanical horse. She plays guitar on I love New York, Drowned World and Ray Of Light. As for the controversial crucifixion scene-bah! No one does a crucifixion like Marilyn Manson, and his cross was made of TV sets! Madge sings Live To Tell on a mirrored cross wearing a crown of thorns after a clip of African children dying of AIDS is played. Shortly after, another video, replete with images of political leaders appears. The words “Don’t Speak” are emblazoned on the screens along with Madge’s svelte, Pilates toned figure. I have a problem with some self-absorbed 47 year millionaire in a leotard interspersed with videos of Hitler, GW and Osama Bin Laden. Doesn't that seem a bit ludicrous ? But all good mega-celebrities need to have a “serious message” embedded in their show.

Best bet-the Disco Inferno/Music mash-up starring roller skating dancers Madge does a Saturday Night Fever impression in a sleeker version of John Travolta’s white suit from the movie.

I always seem to pine for Madonna’s cute but tarty past. The salsafied TV variety show moves of La Isla Bonita would have been fine if I didn’t have such fond memories of the original video. Personally, I figured I’d part with $165 to see the old ho just once. No way in hell I was coughing up $350 for floor seats for anybody, not even M. I figured it’s a thank you for 25 years of good pop songs that provided the soundtrack to my life. Well, save for that horrible American Life album. (My theory: she wrote all the lyrics for that one herself.)

Saving her best shot for last, Madge struts around in black leotard and humps a boom box for Lucky Star/Hung Up. Hung Up ends, gold mylar balloons drop from the ceiling and the houselights go on. No encores, no extended bye-buhs, but then again Madonna has never been a romantic.