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Madonna still Madge-ical at the half-century mark
Madonna still Madge-ical at the half-century mark
by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

Madonna
October 30
BC Place Stadium
(Vancouver, BC)


Fifty is the new 40, and Madonna is proof of that. Watching this woman arch, pull, thrust, and jiggle her body in so many directions embarrassed the hell out of me because my motions are limited to sitting, eating and sleeping - and I'm a decade younger than she is. But she's Madonna, a woman who's always done the unthinkable and the unparalleled.

Appearing in Vancouver, British Columbia for the first time ever, Madonna was the talk of the town, literally. Before the show at bars and restaurants, I either met people who had tickets or wished they had them. Radio stations and Gay-owned businesses, like Priape in the Davie Village, spun Material Girl songs throughout the day of show, and for once her Madge-esty's visit to this trendy city drew more attention than US politics, which the Canadians are obsessively following.

Yes, Madonna was in Vancouver and everyone, including hundreds of Seattleites who made the multi-hour trek, was giddy from head to toe.

After a no-name DJ completed a short set of top 40 bump-and-grinders, it was time for Madonna. But time would come and pass, 90 minutes of it in fact before the lights finally dimmed. The opening - if I understood it correctly on a three-drink buzz - was a series of graphic spirals resembling peppermint bite-size candy on several jumbotron screens. This lent itself to the beginning number, "Candy Shop," as the pop diva emerged to screams and thunderous cheers from a sold-out crowd of well over 50,000. This was a rare instance when I seriously thought my eardrums would burst.

First and foremost, Madonna looks amazing - her figure is that of a college cheerleader and her hair, skin and makeup were flawless. What most impressed me was how fresh she appeared, especially just days following the tabloid-leaked news of her divorce to whatshisname - she's older, of course, but there are no obvious signs of wear and tear. Dressed in a tight, sexy black panties/short coat ensemble, Madonna was one hot mama.

On this tour, the Kabbalah advocate premiered songs from her newest work, Hard Candy, a reason why the concert was a pinch underwhelming: this album is weak in comparison to Confessions on a Dancefloor and Ray of Light, and, in person, "Beat Goes On" - featuring a Kanye West cameo and a pimpin' ride on the catwalk - and "She's Not Me" were lackluster; they just didn't sound that good live, plain and simple. Better was a saucy rendition of "4 Minutes" minus Justin Timberlake, yet it was cleverly done with Madonna slinking side-by-side to panel displays of the N'Syncher turned solo star.

Hits are what this audience primarily wanted to hear, and Madonna is full of them. Early set list entries included a pair of biggies, "Human Nature" and "Vogue." The latter drew an expected sing-along and hammy poses from a mob of women in colorful faux boas throughout the arena. Gay men comprised a significant portion of concertgoers, from young circuit boys to middle-aged couples to older daddy-types. As a newbie to this whole Madonna in concert experience, I found it to be an emotional and monumental event to finally hear these songs done by the original performer in the same building as myself. I was here, she was here - priceless, really.

"La Isla Bonita" was relived Romanian -style, complete with an entourage of gypsy dancers, guitarists, and violinists. It was an interesting twist to the Latin-spiced single, not to mention a splash of the traditional folk tune "Doli Doli" tossed in, though it incorporated some fantastic choreography. A surprise stunner was an acoustic performance of "You Must Love Me," an Oscar-winning ballad from the Madonna-starred film Evita.

"Into the Groove" was sassy and fun, featuring the music queen writhing on a stripper's pole, while "Borderline" was reinvented with an edgier side topped by an electric guitar-strapped Madge. If there was anything that irritated me on this colossal night, it was Madonna's persistence to play guitar when she's never played any instrument in the 20-plus years of her career. I've never known her to be anyone other than herself, so why she decided to be a rock star on this tour is beyond me. Truth be told, it looked silly.

The highlights of this mammoth "Sticky and Sweet" tour stop in Vancouver were an energizing redo of "Ray of Light" and a blazing rendition of "Like a Prayer." The only slice of Confessions brought to the table was "Hung Up," the leadoff track from the Grammy-winning album. Ending the show was "Give It 2 Me," a current smash off Madonna's latest recording. There was no encore, unless you count "Holiday" heard overhead as the lights came back on.

Even though the set list could've been stronger by replacing familiar, time-tested songs instead of bland new stuff, the Material Girl's concert was a spectacle - a grand scale production with lights in every direction, huge projection screens shifting from place to place, a changing of flashy costumes by world-renowned designers every 15 minutes, and the ultimate thrill of being under the same roof with Madonna and thousands of loud, crazed fans.

If ever there was an excuse to lose one's mind or voice, and I sent both packing within the first 20 minutes of this show, it was the opportunity to see a legend putting every muscle, dance step, and eyelash into a live presentation unlike anyone else. She is Madonna, and no one can touch her.

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