Posted by: martinworster | July 12, 2007

56. MADONNA GOES JIVEBUNNY

Madonna at the Inglewood Forum

Madge was in town so I thought I’d pay homage to an ageing icon and caught a glimpse of her at the Forum in Inglewood on the second night of her Confessions Tour. We had nosebleed seats high in the arena and due to the fact that heat rises, it was also very hot from the thousands of bopping housewifes, 80s washups and gay fans.

I have never really been a big fan musically of Madonna. Of course, I stole adolescent snogs to the sound of Isla Bonita and strutted my stuff at school discos to Holiday. Like all pop icons, she soundtracked some key moments in my life. But I never really thought she had an outstanding voice or did anything spectacular musically. She had a knack for reinvention, playing with iconography and attaching herselves to the hippest musical producers of the moment. Step forward Shep Pettibone, William Orbit, Mirwais and Jaques Le Cont to name a few.

She opened up dramatically, in character as a dominatrix diva emerging from her hole in the stage, with a cane and black tights, muscled men writhing at her feet. Banks of huge TV screens beamed morphing images of colourful fractals. Amazonian types breakdanced and roller skated around the large stage. On one song, Madonna road a metal pony on a pole, whilst images of jockeys falling of their horses flashed behind her. No doubt a sniggering reference to her own recent accident in her adopted Albion.

At times the music felt like Madonna remixed. It was Madonna meets Jive Bunny as all her hits segued into the next one in a megamix style and fashion. The versions were all different – beefed up bass, more disco-fied and with four four beats. She even did a Saturday Night fever skit, replete in white suit, tails and cane, to the sounds of Disco Inferno which them morhped into Music. Her last album was produced by Stuart Price who is also her musical director on the tour and he clearly left his mark. I remember Price as Jaques Lu Cont and Les Rhythmes Digitales – filtered house with an electro pop lilt in the late 90s. The boy from Reading clearly did good.

That’s the thing with Madonna. She’s Madonna. She can get away with murder. On one of the songs she rose to the stage on a huge cross covered in light bulbs. Madonna crucified. Thankfully not by the crowd, which was surprising as the audience was probably 40 % Mexican Catholic. That’s Madonna’s whole thing, trying to shock and twist our perceptions of music, sexuality and religion. On other songs she got political, chiding Bush, making claims for the environment, images of world leaders and Osama Bin Laden flashing on the screens in random sequences as the audience whooped and cheered. The messages where meaningless, empty calls to action, pop ephemera forgotten by the crowd the next morning. It’s like when Madonna was at London’s Live 8 gig last summer and she urged the audience to ‘make poverty history’. That message rang in my ears as I sat in my $90 seat and scanned the huge 15,000 capacity arena. Whose poverty are we making history here Madonna? I don’t think it’s yours.

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