I have always considered London the hub of my music education. That’s the place where I really forged my taste and learned that I could listen to really good music in the back of some pubs and in small concert venues in Brixton, spending about 10 £.
I was the indie girl falling in love with a certain kind of American music that sounded pretty much like The Shins, The Decemberists, Bonny ‘Prince’ Billy, Rogue Wave, Islands, Battles, Animal Collective. It may sounds pretty shocking that this girl, some years later, almost 30, had “going to a Madonna concert” in her “to do once before I die” list. Now, thanks to a gentleman who surprised me with tickets for the MDNA tour, I can take it off my list.
The short version of the story is that the MDNA concert is a special effects driven, energetic and must-see show. If you like comparisons, I can add that it was better than the Lady Gaga concert I had the chance to see in L.A. some time ago (sorry Miss Germanotta, but it’s still Miss Ciccone the only true “Queen of Pop”).
The long version of that memorable Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden may go as follows.
In a gothic cathedral ambiance, vaguely looking like the Dome of Milan, Gregorian chants resound in the darkness alternated with the syncopated dinging of a bell. “Oh my God”. Madonna’s voice is echoing in the background while the suspense intro of “Girl gone wild” mingles with the richness of the medieval chants. Then, breaking the windows of a chapel, Madonna makes her entry on the stage. With other songs from her newest album, Madonna soon transforms the scene into an action movie. She thrills up her audiences with gun shots, hiding, kicking, running while rapping and climbing out of a motel room with the agility and energy that makes all her same age musicians jealous of her.
Just a couples of notes from “Papa don’t preach” – I wish she sang it all – and then the Only Queen of Pop is ready for her ultimate jab to Lady Gaga: she starts singing “Express yourself”, her single from 1989, and, with an easy sleigh of hand, she mixes it with Lady Gaga’s hit “Born this way”, to prove that the young pop star copied her. “Respect yourself” alternated in the chorus with “Express yourself” makes the dig even deeper. As the video below shows, Madonna is absolutely right in calling Gaga a copier, but does the 54 year old Only Queen of Pop really need to make fun of the 26 year old Princess of Pop? So far the music industry has proven that there is enough (market) space for both of them.
To some of the audience the attack to Gaga might have sounded like the lowest point of the show. Anyway the performance has certainly reached the top with the sketch featuring the guest of the night, the Korean pop singer Psy.
The day after the images of them dancing and singing together “Gangnam Style” went viral online, with over 1.5 million people watching the video of the duo on YouTube in the 48 hours after the show. “Thank you, Psy! I’m a very big fan of yours. I’ve never been out to Korea, but I’ll have to do it one day”, Madonna told her guest in a bright red suit. She then invites him to sing together one of her old song. Pretending not to be very familiar with Madonna’s music Spy asks her “how old?”. “Well it doesn’t need to be that old…”, jokes the pop star. That’s how the two strike up “Music” that premiered in this way in the MDNA tour.