I’m ancient enough to have been around when Madonna‘s career was in its infancy. I can clearly recall Molly Meldrum championing her on Countdown as a huge talent, and I have vivid memories of dancing around the bedroom with my cousins to “Holiday” and “Lucky Star”. She has featured in my musical consciousness for almost as long as I can recall, so to have the opportunity to finally see her in person, was both exciting and something I met with some trepidation – sometimes it just isn’t a good idea to see people you’ve idolised at some stage in your life, just in case bubbles are burst.
Arriving at Rod Laver Arena, DJ Mary Mac had the bouyant crowd already well into party mood, and there were mini-dance parties breaking out almost anywhere you looked. The producer, song writer, MC and DJ was a compelling entertainer – fearless and fearsome, and thoroughly owning the crowd. She set the perfect tone to welcome Madonna on stage.
I make no secret about the fact I was doubtful we’d see Madonna hit the stage on or close to scheduled time, and I was wondering how the crowd’s mood would evolve after such an excellent build up. Need not have worried, as it turned out, as the venue turned into a dance floor as Michael Jackson‘s “Wanna Be Starting Something” pumped through the crowd just 20 minutes after the scheduled start time. At this point, the atmosphere was electric and it was impossible not to be caught up in the excitement.
Suddenly the lights were down and we were off! Her dancers, those impeccable, extraordinary dancers, appeared during “Iconic”, bearing enormous crucifixes and stunning costumes. It was clear very quickly that this was going to be no ordinary production. Soon enough, high above the stage in a cage, there she was…Madonna. My repressed teen self came out of nowhere and I found myself squealing along with her adoring audience. It really was an amazing thing to be in the same room as her.
I could go into great detail about all the songs she played over the two or so hours, but I couldn’t possibly do justice to the enormity and precision of the show. From “Bitch, I’m Madonna”, to her rocking out “Burning Up” on an electric guitar, to reimaginations of her older songs “Vogue” and “Material Girl”, it was a journey of spectacle and awe, all to the rapture of the fans. Her banter was funny and warm, with its eccentricity being just another reason to admire her. She seems to have a true rapport with her band and dancers, and their support of her is tangible.
I can’t go past mentioning a dance routine to “Illuminati”. Seven (I think) dancers strapped to high, flexible poles, performing face-melting choreography that sees them spinning and arching back and forth, sometimes as low as the crowd below, all whilst another set of dancers are performing meticulously synchronised steps beneath them up and down the thrust stage. Insane and exhilarating.
A particularly touching moment during the evening was when she dedicated “Take A Bow” to Molly Meldrum, standing at the end of the thrust stage (or Penis, as she called it…and once seen, it was never going to be anything other than a penis!), wearing his iconic hat. They shared a drink and a clearly emotional Molly declared his love for her in his standard, endearingly direct manner. It was a special thing to see them engaging after, as I mentioned at the start, seeing Molly being such a support to her as a young artist in the 80’s.
It’s hard not to go on and on and on about this show. From a production standpoint, it was staggering. Mind-blowing, breathtaking, and gobsmacking. From a performance standpoint it’s hard to top. Madonna may be in her late 50’s, but she puts us all to shame with her energy, professionalism, and creativity. Her dancers are phenomenal, the choreography astonishing and precise, and she manages to blend in and out of them seamlessly. Costumes, staging, craftsmanship…all equally mind-bogglingly good.
I don’t know how else to put it other than I had an amazingly good time. I danced and sang, I laughed, I got a bit misty-eyed and I came out of the venue feeling like I’d really, really seen something special.
Australia is the final stage of the Rebel Heart World Tour. Go and see it.
March 13th – Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne
March 16th & 17th – Brisbane Entertainment Centre
March 19th & 20th – Allophones Arena, Sydney [Final show of the world tour]
Tickets available through ticketek.com.au.
(Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Live Nation)”