It's been a
long time since Madonna was this much fun.
Gone are the days of convoluted storylines (2001's
Drowned World Tour),
heavy-handed themes (2004's
Re-Invention Tour) and
controversial antics (2006's
Confessions, during which
Madonna hung herself on a huge cross).
This time around, the Material Girl just wants to make some dough
and show her fans a good time, both of which she accomplished as she
Sticky and Sweet Tour to
the Oracle Arena in Oakland on Saturday. She performs at the same
venue at 8 tonight.
Despite ticket prices that topped out near $400, a capacity crowd
turned out to see the 50-year-old pop icon on the first night of her
Bay Area stay. As a thank you, the flamboyant vocalist turned in a
two-hour show that was filled with good songs, nifty costumes, cool
theatrics and, as always, great dance routines.
By Madonna standards, it was a fairly straightforward 24-song
affair. In fact the most shocking thing about the show was that
there was nothing really shocking about it. That's a refreshing
change for Ms. Ciccone — we'll use her maiden name, since she's
divorcing film director Guy Ritchie. Too often in the past, Madonna
has seemed to focus more on stirring controversy rather than
entertaining the crowd.
What all this
amounts to is that, for the first time this millennium, people are
most apt to walk away from a Madonna show talking about the music,
not the spectacle.
There is, however, much worth saying about the latter.
The concert began about 45 minutes late — which provided fans with
extra time to shop the souvenir stands for $20 Madonna coffee mugs,
$10 Madonna shot glasses and $15 Madonna heart-shaped sunglasses, as
well as $25 "Vote Obama" T-shirts.
The house lights dimmed and the overhead screens showed a Willy
Wonka-inspired animated segment, which tied nicely into the title of
Madonna's latest CD,
Hard Candy. The princess
of pop then appeared at center stage on an M-shaped throne, as
tux-and-tails-clad dancers helped her usher in the opening number,
She followed with another solid new track,
Beat Goes On, before
reaching back into her bag of hits for
Human Nature and
Vogue. Those two tunes
really brought the fans to life as they watched their hero gyrate
about the stage and along the catwalk that extended half way across
the arena floor.
The reaction from the crowd would swell each time Madonna played one
of her classic numbers, such as
La Isla Bonita. This
tour, however, is more about showcasing the new material than it is
about digging up the past.
It wouldn't be entirely fair to say that Madonna was reluctant to
play the fan favorites, but she was certainly hesitant to do them in
familiar fashions. Each hit performed this evening was arranged
differently than the original recording, which might be Madonna's
way of saying that she refuses to play the nostalgia game. Most of
the newly realized renditions, especially a roughed-up, rocking
Borderline, were quite
The last half of the show was devoted mainly to newer material, with
only three offerings,
La Isla Bonita,
Like A Prayer and
Like A Virgin, hailing
from the singer's classic '80s catalog. The song selection, oddly,
only seemed marginally important. What mattered more was that
Madonna was having fun — and it was contagious. (source:
Contra Costa Times)