On September 6th, Madonna finally reached home on her MDNA Tour, playing two sold out shows at Yankee Stadium. The Hard Candy team was of course in attendance both nights, but this a review of the extra special Saturday night show which took place in the pouring rain and included a wonderful surprise.
Early Saturday morning, I awoke to pelting rain on my window and news that two tornadoes had touched down in Brooklyn, not the news you like hearing before you’re due to attend an open air Madonna concert for which you have secured the coveted golden triangle pit passes. Luckily the show went ahead as planned, and shortly after 6.30pm we were let into the stadium and the chase for front row in the pit ensued “Slow down, you’ll hurt yourselves! No running! the stadium workers shouted as we bolted towards the triangle. Slow down? A front row spot for Madonna was at stake, there would certainly be no slowing down! Out of breath but happily standing in front row with our hands pressed firmly upon the railing, we greeted fans of Hard Candy who were also in the triangle.
Even before Madonna took the stage there was something in the air that had us feeling like it was going to be a very special show, the bleak forecast lead to flashbacks of Truth or Dare where Madonna has to perform in the pouring rain on the Blond Ambition tour in Japan. To my delight, my tweets about what to wear for the night resulted in lots of ”Put black tights on, just put the “Vogue” costume on, put your jacket on, and that’s your costume for the night” responses.
The sunlight faded and soon the empty stadium began to fill up, shortly after 8.30pm Avicii came on and played a decent set. It wasn’t long before 10.20pm rolled around (her usual set time) but there was no sign of her and our pre-show nerves threatened to get the better of us “She’s gotta be on soon!” we said with exasperation, then BAM! the lights went out and it was finally showtime and we were indeed in for a treat! Men dressed as priests rose from below the stage as the huge intense burner swung overhead, then the doors parted to reveal the silhouette of Madonna kneeling in her confessional. The glorious opening prayer started “Oh My God” as many of us screamed it right back at her, the perfect expression of the moment, we stood surrounded by the stage about to experience Madonna up close and personal, it doesn’t get more “Oh My God“ than that!
A few days before the tour hit the U.S. Madonna penned an open letter fittingly describing it as…
The journey of a soul from darkness to light
It is part cinematic musical theatre.
Part spectacle and sometimes intimate Performance art.
There is no doubt that MDNA Tour is one of Madonna’s most theatrical show to date, the sets are grand and every dancer pushes themselves to the limit, every move timed to perfection.. no easy feat when you’re dealing with such intricate choreographed moves like there are in the Gang Bang performance… one false move in that one and someone’s getting knocked out!
From the moment she breaks out of her cage and casts aside her crown and dark veil (striking similarities to her headwear when marrying Guy), she’s going full force. In the opening Transgression section Madonna leaves it clear she’s taking no prisoners. Firing off guns, swigging from a rum bottle, and walking the wire, this section leaves you with your heart in your mouth…beyond intense.
One of the highlights of it was surprisingly Like A Virgin. My first reaction upon seeing it on YouTube was “What the hell has she done to it?!” but it’s a heart wrenching rendition you must see in person to appreciate, I love the emotion soaked sadness of it and it was one of my favorites of the entire night. Before it started, there were a few seconds before she fell to the floor and crawled under an umbrella to deliver it, that she stood with her back to the majority of the crowd but facing us. Seeing the rain pelting her skin with 50,000 people standing behind her was quite the breathtaking moment
Next up came the Prophecy section, my favorite song in this section was Express Yourself, which YouTube videos did not do justice. It’s visually stunning with dancers hanging from the top of the stage, spread all over the catwalk and Madonna having some cheeky fun. I love the video that plays in the background, and you should watch it very closely when the Born This Way part comes in it leaves me with no doubt as to her feelings about Gaga! I also really warmed up to the revamped Open Your Heart with Sangarra Jo, it’s always fun to sing along to a song and have no idea exactly what you’re singing!
One of the best moments of the night came as a special thank you to us for sticking it out in the rain and coming to see her, she did the unthinkable and added a song to her set, ”and because I didn’t get to take a HOLIDAY this year” she shouted as the crowd erupted into screams, and then it started…. she had added Holiday to the set, my mind was blown! As if that wasn’t enough she then proceeded to approach our group standing directly in front of us looking into our eyes as we screamed the lines back to her then spinning around giving me a total Blonde Ambition flashback, and dancing back off to the other side of the stage. I’m forever grateful to our writer Andrew Tess, who was standing directly behind me, for filming the moment from our exact vantage point.
The glorious Justify My Love video lead the way to the Masculine/Feminine section, every song here is a winner from the classic Vogue performance to the brilliantly choreographed Candy Shop/Erotica. Leave it to Madonna to create a fabulous mix of one of the worst songs on Hard Candy!
All too soon it was time for the last section Redemption, which contains Like A Prayer, my show highlight. The energy of the crowd during this song was intense and during it she wandered over to our group and touched some of our hands which added a whole new layer of excitement to it. It was electric!
I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of the show, but I will be honest and say that the setlist could have used a few more hits. Yes, I know she’s Madonna and she does as she pleases, but you really felt the energy in the stadium when she did classics like Like A Prayer and Open Your Heart and the show could have used just a few more moments like that. Right now MDNA stands behind Reinvention and Confessions out of all the tours I’ve seen but those are just so flawless it’s hard to compete!