Finally, after procrastinating for the past two tours, I pulled the trigger and purchased myself a ticket to see Madonna live, at the TD Garden in Boston on September 4. My friend and I decided the only way we would go is if we had really good seats that would make the cost of the ticket worth it. If one is already paying well over $100 to sit in the highest nosebleed seats, might as well shell out the extra and make it count, and the nearly $400 cost was beyond worth it. I have no idea where my admiration for Madonna began. I can pinpoint it with Björk very easily, but with Madonna I am not sure. I obviously remember growing up with her music in the 80’s, but my own personal level of fandom (which is not nearly as crazy as the many Madge disciples in our midst), I can not figure out. I remember going to my local mall salivating because they had the VHS release of the ‘Justify My Love’ video. I remember my Dad taking me to see Dick Tracy in the theater just because I wanted to see Madonna. I remember my parents buying me The Immaculate Collection for Christmas one year, and I remember watching Truth or Dare too many times to count while I was in high school. It wasn’t always the music necessarily. I enjoy it, and love it now more than ever, but there was always something about the grandiosity that is Madonna that always attracted me. So to finally get to see her live, if only once, was very exciting to me, and she did not disappoint. Does Madonna ever disappoint? Musically speaking, this woman does not fail, she doesn’t settle for mediocrity on any level. Love her or hate her, she is always ON. Everything must be as grand as her ego and the empire she runs. This is a woman who travels with a personnel staff of 250 people. On the Confessions tour, that crystal ball centerpiece was made of $2 million worth of Swarovski crystals. Her fleet consists of two private planes, 5 busses, 18 cars & vans, and 24 semi-trucks. Rehearsal totals 1,000 hours before the first show starts. Madonna is now 6 years shy of 60 years old, and nothing slows her down. Some say she should start acting her age, but as my friend points out that is simply not how she works. She has from day one, more than 30 years ago, always set her own rules and played by them, knowing exactly what she wants at all times, and knowing how to get it. She has questioned and pushed boundaries on every level imaginable, and now she’s breaking down the barriers of ageism. I still question her at times on this, thinking it would be great to see her tone it down, to age gracefully, but seeing this show I more than ever understood how wrong I am, seeing a different side of what the meaning of ‘aging gracefully’ is. Seeing her live, putting on this giant spectacle, running this pitch perfect, well oiled machine, was beyond impressive. People say it’s lazy to bring up her age of 54 when speaking of her these days, but that is something that truly sets her apart. She is still able to completely pack in any size arena across the world and charge an average of $200 per ticket, from Hyde Park in London, to Yankee Stadium in New York, to 70,000 seaters in Brazil, Argentina, Israel, Russia and United Arab Emirates, it’s no wonder her last ‘Sticky & Sweet’ tour in 2008 is the 4th biggest selling tour of all time, and the current ‘MDNA’ tour could well surpass it. To watch her running around the stage, hitting her marks, the numerous costume changes, while singing and running up and down steps and catwalks, and not losing her breath even the slightest from what I could see from my vantage point – well, to not mention her age would be a disservice to her dedication in what she does. From her grand entrance, smashing out of a glass confessional using a machine gun as she floated above hooded priests and monks in red capes rising out of the stage below a giant swinging cauldron smoking with incense, I began to realize that even Las Vegas has nothing on this woman. She took playful stabs at Lady Gaga by interjecting bits of rip-off ‘Born This Way’ into a rousing drum-centric ‘Express Yourself’ with tin soldier type drummers floating over the crowd, a violent Russ Meyer/Quentin Tarantino style female revenge story played out during ‘Gang Bang’, beautiful renditions of ‘Vogue’, ‘Like A Prayer’ and ‘Open Your Heart’ (which included her 11 year old son Rocco making an appearance), all topped off with a very loud near-rave performance of ‘Celebration’. Madonna’s music is understandably not everyone’s cup of tea, especially nowadays as people tend to look at her more fondly with nostalgia (evidenced by the fantastic crowd, mostly about 35+, many of which were women reliving their youth dressed up in more lace I care to remember), but there is so much for even the staunchest critic to admire about Madonna. Is she grand, is she over-the-top, is she full of herself? Of course. And does she make it fun? You bet. A fantastic and brilliantly fun show that showed why there will only ever be one Madonna. Long live the Queen.
Below are my mostly bad pictures taken with my iPhone, and the video clip of ‘Vogue’ was taken by my friend from our seats.