Monday, May 22, 2006

FIRST NIGHT: MADONNA ON TOUR

Madonna has kicked-off her latest world tour, taking the stage in Los Angeles with - oh, will you look at that - a mock crucifixion. How, what's the word... not shocking, no... desperate. It's a move that isn't only calculated to generate some fake controversy, but even shows its working.

Only a bunch with an act even older and more creaky than Madonna herself would rise to it, of course.

Indeed, reports the Daily Mail, they have:

A Church of England spokesman said: "Is Madonna prepared to take on everything else that goes with wearing a crown of thorns?

"And why would someone with so much talent seem to feel the need to promote herself by offending so many people?"


The CofE spokesperson doesn't seem to have noticed that Madonna's actually suspended on a huge cross rather than simply wearing a crown of thorns, but then they also don't seem to have noticed that Madonna stopped running on talent about a decade ago and has since been ticking over using Abba samples and distraction techniques. But we woudn't recommend you give her ideas about taking it further, as before you know it the next world tour will see her attempting a resurrection scene.

Still, at least the CofE didn't fall back on the "you wouldn't do this to a Muslim, would you?" standby.

David Muir of the Evangelical Alliance told the Evening Standard: "It is downright offensive. Madonna's use of Christian imagery is an abuse and it is dangerous.

"The Christian reaction to this sort of thing tends to be tempered but if the same thing was done with the imagery and iconography of other faiths the reaction woulld be very different."


We do agree with Muir, though, that it is dangerous. Woman of her age up that high on big cross? Without even decent foundation garments? If she doesn't fall and break something she's going to be feeling the effects of the breeze come the morning.

Defamer helpfully points out the site of all this sin, the Forum, is owned by The Faithful Central Bible Church. Now, the church is above taking editorial control when acts it judges unholy try to play on its stage - as Lamb of God found out not so long ago - so we can only assume they're cool with all the mockixion.

Of course, there was some mutual looking the other way going on - comments on Towleroad [Some picture ads borderline NSFW depending on how cool your office is, and how secure you are with your own sexuality] reveal that The Forum is in dispute with some of its staff, and they were out protesting. It's not that Madonna crossed a picketline, you understand. It's just staff really don't even register, darling.

Even the hardestcore of her fans aren't entirely buzzing at the prospect of this tour - one commenter on Drowned Madonna stifles a yawn:

I hope this show will be better LIVE or in video format but these reviews and pictures just don't look very interesting to me I mean its Madonna that's very great but actually I'm a bit sick of the disco thing I'm hope for the next tour to not come too soon as this I mean 2 years after RIT is just to much !!! You just can't come up with so new ideas!

When the people who hang about your fan forums are suggesting that a tour once every twenty-four months is wearing out a welcome, you might have a serious problem.

Oh No They Didn't reproduces a press handout detailing the tour by numbers - 600 costumes per show, 400 lb belts, that sort of thing. "Everything you could want to know" runs the claim at the top. It doesn't mention how many songs will be sung, or how much performance time there is, or indeed anything other than spectacle-related material.

Still, at least they could control that part of the media - Calacanis.com saw five security guards struggling to stop fifty people (people who'd paid hundreds for their tickets, mind) from taking mobile photos - they gave it up as a bad job, but really, they had a cheek even trying. Face it, promoters, you can't enforce your petty "no pictures" rules any longer. Jason - who loved the show, by the way - suggests that Madonna isn't that bothered by a few extra snappers:

Madonna loved it and would lean out and pose for group of 30 or 40 people at sections of the stage. All you would see is 30 people holding up phones--kind of like a Gibson novel or something.

The photos are starting to show up on Flickr. If you're brave.

Madonna herself - no, really, it, really is, we're certain has got some fuzzy video of a couple of tracks on Madonna's Personal Thoughts, although we're not sure how she managed to be in the audience filming herself on the stage. Maybe she is magic.

Or perhaps the being in two places at once explains why she was, according to the LA Daily News, 45 minutes late coming on stage. (Imagine that, late for your own crucifixion):

but fans said they'd wait another two hours if they had to for the colorful dance music icon.

A whole two hours, eh? That's not the deepest dedication we've seen - we've slept in Insurance company arbours for the chance to see a band; "we'll wait, but if it's going to make us miss last orders we're off" isn't entirely a ringing endorsement.

Once inside, fans lined up to buy T-shirts, wristbands, keychains and other items on one of the most-anticipated opening nights of the year.

But it's not all about the shopping, you know:

"As I grew up, Madonna symbolized female empowerment," said Andrea Holt, 27, a marriage and family counselor from Fort Collins, Colo., who flew in to catch the tour-opener at The Forum. "She tested limits and I liked that. And she went through phases in her life. Now, she's focused on her family and a lot of us can relate to that."

She has, of course, focused on her family by saying goodbye and going off to spend half the year prancing about in skintight leather. We don't know if Ms Holt tells Fort Collinsites that that's the recipe for a happy marriage but we've met people from Fort Collins, and do allow that it's possible.

Still, with all those costume changes, she needs to keep the audience busy somehow. The Associated Press report explains how:

"The show has just begun," she declared before disappearing for one of the night's half-dozen costume changes. Moving video screens obscured the stage and old-school breakdancing kept fans' eyes busy.

Breakdancing? Bloody hell, was Malcolm McClaren directing the show or something?

Mind you, even he couldn't have come up with a fairly digestive-sized piece of hypocrisy - having positioned herself to be the visual figurehead for last year's G8 endorsing Live8 event, now trying to pass herself off as not being part of that whole Bono scene:

Just before Madonna hoisted a Les Paul guitar to accompany herself on "I Love New York," images of world leaders - from Richard Nixon to Saddam Hussein to George W. Bush - flashed on a screen beneath bold red letters that read "Don't Speak."

There's also Hitler in there, we're led to understand. As on the internet, so it is with big screens at gigs: once you reduce it to calling people Nazis, you've lost the argument.

[For comparison: The first UK night of the Re-invention tour]


2 comments:

Eyetie said...

Another excellent article but any idea which song she sings when she's up there? "Hung Up"? "Sorry"? "Like A Virgin (Mary Magdelene aside)"?

Or maybe she shouts out "Hi mum!" or "I can see Margate from here!"

Maybe Dan Brown can script an intro to whichever song it is describing how an all-powerful group of telling us how Jesus didn't really die on the cross but had kids with Mary M. and passed his carpentry skills through his ancestors until one decided to build a cross for a woman named after Jesus' mother. Oh, the irony...

The Real Deal said...

Eyetie posses a fabulous question that 99.9% of the "news" coverage of Madonna's set choice have totally not mentioned. She was singing a song about the thousands of people who die every day from AIDS all over the world and no one is talking about it. How right the Material Girl was about the issue since in all the hullabaloo about her cross exploits, no one has mentioned the AIDS statement she was trying to make. By the way does anyone know how many mere mortals got up on crosses in churches around the world this past Easter? Aren't we all sinners, who better to be on a cross?

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