On Sunday July 18th, I went to the Madonna concert at the Air Canada Centre expecting two things; I expected to be entertained, and I expected to be shocked. Well, one out of two isn't bad.
The 45-year-old sensation definitely knows how to put on a show, I will give her that. But the shocking Madonna who frequently raised eyebrows wherever she went, has definitely toned down her performing and is back to acting…like a virgin.
The concert kicked off (40 minutes late) with an elaborate video-screen presentation, accompanied by a monologue by Madge, entitled "The Beast Within." The crowd, made up mostly of 30-ish women and half of Toronto's gay community, was on their feet. And suddenly, a familiar line was heard: "Strike a pose." And that kicked off an hour and 50 minutes of pure energy, as mundane as it was.
Madonna, atop an elaborate circular stage that rotated 360˚, pranced through versions of "Express Yourself" and "Frozen," before embarking on "Burning Up" and picking up an electric guitar. Now, I don't play any instruments, but Madonna looked extremely uncomfortable playing the guitar. It seemed as though she may have learned the instrument only yesterday.
Other favourites such as "Material Girl" "Deeper and Deeper" and "Bedtime Story" were offered before an interesting new version of "Don't Tell Me." I am not much for remaking old songs, but when Madonna mixed The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" with "Don't Tell Me," it was beautifully-mixed music to my ears.
The rest of the show consisted of all the other hits such as "Papa Don't Preach," "Like A Prayer" and "Crazy For You." The show came to a loud, climactic end with "Music" and "Holiday."
I was easily entertained by her show. The half-pipe and skateboarder, acrobats, bagpipers, and dancers made the show truly unique, something only Madonna can do well. And while the flashing screens and flowing confetti was elaborate and eye-catching, it was not the Madonna of old. I wasn't expecting pointy bras or simulated masturbation, but the show lacked all sex appeal. At one point, Madonna, in a kilt and a t-shirt that read "Kabalists Do It Better," straddled one of her dancers while he was on the ground. She walked across the length of his body, and then…nothing. The old Madonna surely would have offered some kind of sexual demonstration, but not the new Madonna. She explained herself to the crowd. "The last time I was here, the police tried to arrest me." The audience went nuts. "But I am a good girl now," she said.
I would have liked to have seen the bad girl. I would have liked to hear such songs as "Like a Virgin" and "Human Nature," which she left out of her set. In fact, anything with sexual content was forgotten.
The most shocking point came during the first half of the show when the giant screens displayed war photos, including George Bush and Sadam Hussein look-alikes sharing a cigar. It was a little disturbing, but not as shocking as Madonna's past exploits.
Over all, a great performance, but not as good as she used to be. Her voice was unexpectedly-good, and the costumes, sets, and performers were all top-notch. And, after forking over $30 for the cheapest t-shirt at the show, I can prove to people that I once saw one of the greatest performers of all time. I saw Madonna.
Writer: Amy Bielby