Friday, 20 July 2012

The Right Madonna!

I drove 80 miles and parked at the National Indoor Arena, Birmingham (UK), ate an expensive (and cold) burger and took my seat.  I said hello to the nice young lady in the seat next to me.  Olga, from Petersburg, who had grown up and studied in Latvia, asked me whether I was a big fan of Madonna.  I can't blame her for being surprised when I said that I hadn't bought any of her music until this week, and I couldn't really claim to be a fan.  However, I had obviously paid for rather a good ticket to see her show, and didn't have any family or friends there to blame for it.

As regular readers will have noticed, I am very much less of a fan of the official Catholic Madonna.  The official Madonna is sometimes said to put on amazing shows all around the world but that they are never repeated and barely (if at all) believable.  I'll leave it the gullible in the Catholic Church to believe in those.

Meanwhile, 'the right Madonna' definitely also puts on barely believably but amazing shows, and yesterday evening I had the great pleasure of seeing one of them.

Even though I had never bought any of Madonna's albums until this week (when an administrative error led me to buy the album MDNA** twice!) I haven't failed to notice her.  Recordings of her live shows on TV are such a spectacle that I have said for several years that I would like to see one of them.  Last weekend, completely by chance, I happened to notice that there was a UK tour on at the moment and that there were still some tickets available for the Birmingham performance.

Madonna MDNA tour, NIA, Birmingham, 2012
MDNA - a full house at the NIA

I bought the new album and played it enough times to be familiar with the songs.  All of them are 'accessible' to say the least, and I liked almost all of them and was looking forward to the experience of the show.  And after an uninteresting support act (who might be skilled but hardly deserves to be named for the single theme and rhythm of his music for night clubs), Madonna was on stage at about 21:45, and performed for us for over an hour and three quarters, with 5 or 6 changes of costume.

The amazing set with multiply movable lighted platforms had obviously arrived in a fleet of large black trucks which were parked outside.

Madonna MDNA tour, NIA, Birmingham, 2012
Madonna on tour - a massive exercise in logistics.

The show started off with a religious feel - or maybe an anti-religious feel.  As it got going, the background image turned into a wall of falling shards of glass as the concert started off with the song 'Girl Gone Wild'.  The backdrop has been claimed to be the largest screen in the world.

Madonna MDNA tour, NIA, Birmingham, 2012
MDNA tour - the opening set. 
Just before the amazing breaking glass scene.

After a while Madonna told us that there had been a 'technical problem with her motel'.  (You can see pictures of it on the Wikipedia page for the MDNA tour.)  I had wondered what the barely visible neon sign had been, behind the movable backdrop/screen, but the performance was professional and flawless in spite of technical failure.  Many of us (non-fans) wouldn't have noticed but the die-hards probably had.

What else can I say about the performance?  It assaulted the senses!  The sound was almost overwhelming.  In some ways it might have been a little too loud in the quieter pieces.  I'm not saying that as an old fuddy-duddy, but the album has a bit more contrast between the louder and quieter passages, making favourite songs like Turn Up The Radio much more stunning.  I can only marvel at the technical aspects of the design of the set and the light and sound system.  I could only speculate about the cost of creating such a spectacle.

Amazing!  It was well worth the cost and effort. 

Madonna MDNA tour, NIA, Birmingham, 2012
MDNA - at the NIA in Birmingham

I got back to the car at 23:40, waited patiently to get out of the car park, was on the road by 00:20 and home by 01:50, still buzzing from the experience.  I wrote most of this with a can of beer to calm down enough to go to bed.

If you had told me a week ago that I was going to see this I would have been skeptical, to say the least!

Would I go again?   Not this year, but in future, yes definitely!

**Small note: Being unaware of the illegal drugs scene, it hadn't occurred to me until today that the title of the album and tour must be a clever reference to two things.  Only today I realised that there is a drug called MDMA and that the chant MDNA is featured in a song called addiction.  I had already spotted that Madonna shortened to MDNA is analogous to shortening Yahweh to YHWH.  Maybe I'm showing my ignorance in both cases - or maybe not.

Another note:  Now I have spotted another gap in my knowledge about religions, and will have to read up about this Kabbalah that Madonna is so keen on - from a skeptical point of view of course!


RosaRubicondior said...


Apparently, it's something to do with paying way over the odds for a strand of wool to put round your wrist, then you get special powers.

Sounds reasonable to me, especially since, as with all cults, someone at the top is making vast amounts of money.

Anonymous said...

Olga: It was nice to meet you "not a fan" of Madonna. Very nice and true article!