It was her first Bay Area performance in more than 11 years and only
her fourth appearance in the area ever, although the crowd was annoyed that she sang
virtually none of the songs that made her famous and nobody really seemed to be asking for
their money back. Just being in the same room with her, was enough for most people.
Splashing lights, multiscreen video, outrageous special effects, wild
costumes, insane dancers, music and Madonna, an middle-aged mother of two with an
unforgettable voice and enough drive to make herself the biggest female pop star in the
Easily the summer's most anticipated tour, the Drowned World Tour,
which started in Barcelona and ended in Los Angeles, sold out all 29 U.S. shows instantly,
regardless of the ridiculous $250 top ticket price ($45 for the nosebleed seats). A cast
and crew of 200 travel with the Material Girl, along with 100 tons of equipment, eight
semis and a 4,900-square-foot stage. Each days travel bills alone must have exceeded the
GNP of most small countries.
The mere 105-minute show was divided into four parts: "Rock 'n'
roll punk girl, geisha girl, cyber cowgirl and Spanish girl/ghetto girl." Each of the
22 songs is a set piece, a mini-extravaganza, even though virtually the entire program was
drawn from her latest two albums, "Music" and "Ray of Light."
In a show that was more Broadway musical than rock concert, Madonna
threw together elements of butoh, electronica, flamenco, country and western, and disco in
a spellbinding barrage that never let up. She even brandished a guitar on a few
selections, although she barely elevated it above prop status.
Madonna is a phenomenon, not a musician. Part dancer, part singer,
part pop visionary, all star, she was the living centerpiece of this extraordinary
electronic tableaux, often overwhelmed by all that she had set in motion around her. She
spoke very little and emphasized her remoteness from the audience by frequently retreating
to a platform at the rear of the stage.
From the carefully cultivated wardrobe to such exciting special
effects as the "Crouching Tiger type" tribute where she flew, Peter Pan- style,
fighting off dancing ninjas, she made every moment onstage count.
With a gang of 10 dancers and two background vocalists who also
danced, Madonna kept the show moving around the stage. She wore a guitar strap that said
"F-- off" and a T-shirt that said "Mother" on the front and something
stronger on the back. But she looked great and worked her way through a procession of
costumes that mixed street with haute couture.
It didn't matter to her legions that she didn't play old favorites.
To some they just walked out in awww of what they had just been a part of, but other felt
it the Material Girl finally went to far and has lost her root. The difference from a star
and an icon is an icon always remembers where they started from and never forgets it.