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Volume 34
Issue 23
 
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SGN EXCLUSIVE - MADONNA'S MUSIC BRINGS THE PEOPLE TOGETHER AT SAN JOSE'S HP PAVILION
SGN EXCLUSIVE - MADONNA'S MUSIC BRINGS THE PEOPLE TOGETHER AT SAN JOSE'S HP PAVILION
by Richard Kennedy - SGN A&E Writer

Madonna's "Confessions Tour" 2006

May 30 @ HP Pavilion, San Jose

If Madonna doesn't come to you, then you go to her.

That's exactly what I did last week when I took off to San Jose to see the one and only Queen of Pop at the HP Pavilion. I remember recording "Like A Virgin" off the radio in '84, complete with the DJ's introduction. I would listen to it over and over on my Walkman. I didn't really know what a "virgin" was, but I knew it was dirty and rebellious so I couldn't help but fall in love with it. Now over 20 years later, I found myself surrounded by hundreds of other crazy fans waiting for our Goddess to grace us with her presence.

It's difficult to put into words the excitement in the air. Just two rows in front of me, when another fan found her seat right next to the catwalk that Madonna would be strutting down, she broke into tears of delight. That was just the first time I saw a fan lose control, and there would be many more throughout the evening. The impact Madonna has had on Gay men and straight girls, in particular, was hugely evident before the show even started. Random screams of elation filled the purple-hazed arena before the lights dimmed. The minute the lights did go down the entire crowd jumped out of their seats, ready to rip the roof off the place. We all knew we were there for something incredible, and just as she always does, Madonna delivered more than we expected.

The opening number was the hot track "Future Lovers" from her new album, Confessions on a Dance Floor. An obvious ode to Donna Summer, Madonna descended from a giant glittery disco ball, clad in hot S&M equestrian gear designed by Jean Paul Gaultier. With dancers wearing bits and saddles, the whip-yielding diva rode her "horses" to the throbbing disco beat, creating a frenzy in the arena. To everyone's surprise, she then broke into the classic "I Feel Love" and followed with "Get Together." At this point, she hadn't even moved from the extended catwalk in the middle of the arena to the center stage. In what is her most audience friendly show ever, the people in the back of the house were treated to her diva entrance, finding themselves incredibly close to the world famous entertainer when they really weren't expecting it.

Those seated on the arena's side sections were equally surprised when dancers popped out of the floor directly in front of them. After a studded, leather saddle "carousel" arose from one of these side stages, Madonna mounted it and sang "Like a Virgin" while it moved up and down in a circle. Not one to stop there, her majesty stood on the moving saddle in her high-heeled boots, twisted and cavorted around the pole while in motion to the awe of fans in the stands. Just when we thought it couldn't get any better than that, a second stage descended from the ceiling and lowered onto the catwalk. This stage was covered with cage-like bars, and Madonna and her troupe created a brilliantly choreographed version of "Jump" with all of them swinging, diving and balancing around one another. At this point, Madonna commanded complete attention. I was exhausted just watching the first four numbers, and in astonishment like the rest of the audience. Madge sat in front of her admirers and coyly thanked everyone for coming to her "little show". She then said, "And that's just the beginning, the night is young!" With that, she left the stage for what was to be the first costume/set change.

The next act began with three solo dancers performing freestyle, while their very own monologues played over the speakers. Madonna is known for forming relationships with her dancers and this time she wanted them to share their stories, many of them coming from hardship. After their solos, a string-heavy version of "Live to Tell" began and a giant glittery cross arose from the center stage with Madonna "crucified" on it. Much has been publicized about this scene, but the context is never really mentioned. With the opening monologues and flashing images of world strife, it was a very moving and poignant number. Dismounting the cross, Madonna sang "Forbidden Love" as two male dancers performed a very understated and impressive, interlocking hand dance. After all of these years, it's great to know Madonna has never forgotten her Gay fans. It was a little heavy, but eventually brought back down with her last single "Sorry" and "Like It or Not."

The next set found our Material Girl with electric guitar in hand, draped in a glam rock feather cape, doing her best "Iggy meets Bowie" for a rock version of "I Love New York." After flubbing a line, the known perfectionist rolled her eyes at herself and got back into the groove, following up with "Ray of Light".

Madge took the stage for an intense, solo version of "Let It Will Be," where she performed a sort of "trip dance" while singing. As she glided across the stage, she would trip, fall, and pick herself up again in brilliant movement. At the end of the number, she was again in the middle of the arena twisting, turning, falling to the floor and writhing around maniacally while the stage lights throbbed, and sweat went flying from her gyrating body. Then, she turned to a ballad for a beautiful rendition of "Drowned World," sitting on the steps connected to the center stage's catwalk.

The next five numbers brought the evening full circle. When you have an incredible opening like the one for this tour, the finale has to fucking blow the audiences mind. That it did. The entire stage and screen lit up with disco silhouettes as our Gay icon danced to "Disco Inferno," which turned into a mash-up with "Music". The dancers, clad in roller boogie gear, roller-skated all over the stage, down the catwalk, flying over each other and circling around Madonna dressed in her finest Travolta disco suit. At the end of the skating frenzy, she ripped off her suit revealing a white lycra body suit with purple and blue stripes wrapping around her perfect body. Madge discoed up a storm with her dancers to a tightly choreographed "Erotica" containing different lyrics from the original. Word on the gossip sites is that this was the original demo version she created for the song, and it worked brilliantly with the disco theme of this tour.

A hot salsa version of "La Isla Bonita" followed with the screens flashing 70's scenic wall mural images of an island, while the Queen and her band of dancers twirled and circled down the catwalk in unison. Collapsing to the ground at the end of the song, Madonna was draped in a cape by her two back-up singers. When she stood up, she opened the cape and revealed disco balls that lit up! The crowd heard some familiar chimes, the opening to "Lucky Star," and when she turned around the cape had "Dancing Queen" embroidered on the back. The audience went through the roof at this point while Madge bounced from one side stage to the other ripping into the dance version of the classic hit! "Hung Up" finished the show, with Madonna referencing some of her early dance moves by grinding spread eagle on a boom box. As balloons fell on the audience, our diva fell through the floor of the stage and the lights went up.

Never have I seen such an exhausted, sweaty audience after a stadium show. There will be the Britney's and the Avril's, but very few make it to the point that Madonna has. Naysayers will always try to diminish her talent and artistry, but her live performances will always prove them wrong. As a whole, Madonna's "Confessions Tour" flows incredibly well with moments of genius, style, spirituality and politics, but most of all it's a fucking good time, and that's what Madonna always wants to deliver.

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