The MDNA Tour
With Paul Oakenfold
American Airlines Arena, Miami
Monday, November 19, 2012
Better Than: Looking for Molly with MDNA at Ultra Music Festival.
Three ingeniously slutty decades.
That's how long Madonna has been selling her marvelously meaty ass to the American public. And last night, the newest revamp of her pay-per-view striptease finally slithered and slinked into Miami for a two-night stand.
The evening's undressing began in earnest at 9 p.m. with an enthusiastically tame Top 40 mix from trance superstar Paul Oakenfold. There was lots of interactive handclapping. There was a remix of a cover of "Smells Like Teen Spirit." There was a full hour's worth of predictable arena party fodder, from "Sweet Dreams" to "Kerncraft 400." But still, the fans were sooo thrilled that they actually started ripping off unnecessary articles of clothing.
And shortly after 10 p.m., Madonna's arrival seemed imminent. Her musical director, Kevin, emerged from behind the massive stage curtain of Ms. MDNA's face to announce that these Miami shows were being recorded for an upcoming concert DVD. "Tonight is going to be immortalized," he explained. And the crowd quivered with ooohhhs and aaahhhs.
But then ... She left everyone sitting though a 90-minute intermission, listening to disco standards, Wacko Jacko classics, and choice Justin Timberlake cuts. And soon, the boos were erupting every 10 minutes, cascading down from the bleacher seats and roiling up from the VIPs. Even gangs of pretty dudes in homemade "We Heart MDNA" tees were hissing and spitting.
By 11:22, a "Bullshit! Bullshit! Bullshit!" chant broke out. And it started to seem as though this MDNA in MIA thing was slipping irrevocably toward disaster.
However, that's precisely the moment when the Queen of Pop decided to take the stage. Ominous Gregorian chants boomed through the cathedral of MDNA as an urn packed full of incense descended from the heavens, followed by a pack of double-jointed hellbeasts and then Madonna herself.
Just by stepping onto the stage, Madonna quelled the wild outbreak of bitchiness that'd seized the American Airlines Arena mob for the last half-hour. And in a matter of mere seconds, most of the audience stopped snarling and became her loving little bitches again.
Squeezed into full-body leather, she paraded around a constantly morphing landscape of LED cubes to the tune of the MDNA album's "Girl Gone Wild," leaping off a mini-cliff into the arms of a gay boy sex toy. She vamped, licking the barrel of her .357 Magnum during "Revolver." She staged a "Gang Bang" at the Paradise Motel, blowing the brains outta multiple attackers-slash-lovers, just indiscriminately spraying gore all over the fucking place.
And all her bitches went giddy.
Chained and carried off by post-apocalyptic tribal guerrillas during '80s fave "Papa Don't Preach," Madonna segued into 2005 aerobicise anthem "Hung Up" while learning to walk the tightrope alongside her finely choreographed captors.
She strapped on eight-inch studded heels and a prop guitar for "I Don't Give A." She disappeared during "Best Friend," ceding the stage to shirtless dancers in gas masks who ran through end-of-days S/M routines. And then "Madonna and the Majorettes" paraded out to "Express Yourself" and the high-pitched squeals of her bitches, twirling batons and high stepping in the delightfully filthy style of a sexually experienced drill squad.
Girlishly bouncing to the beat of a marching band rappelling from the rafters and orchestrating her dirty pep brigade, Madonna smirked before dropping a sarcastic sing-song-y Lady Gaga diss, chanting "She's not me! She's not me!" to a snippet of "Born This Way." And the crowd cackled deliriously.
The 54-year-old squad sergeant flipped up her skirt and flashed that meaty ass, coquettishly bending over to pick up some pom-poms with her butt in the crowd's collective face. And yes, lusty catcalls exploded from the gays, straights, and middle-aged alike.
That's when we here at Crossfade finally admitted, "Madonna doesn't suck. And she's still pretty hot."
It was sorta shocking. Because having filed into the AAA about four hours earlier with expectations of witnessing Madonna commit repeated, embarrassing attempts at "coolness" à la her infamous, Molly-dropping Ultra Music Festival cameo, we were entirely without smartass critiques.
Even in the middle of mediocre, drumming-circle renditions of hits like "Open Your Heart," Madonna was still in total command. This lady's a true pop dominatrix.
Her banter never got too obnoxious either. Maybe because she was playing safe for the DVD film crew.
"Fuck yeah! It's hot in here. Are my bitches hot?" Madonna shouted, shifting into a half-assed PSA about self-esteem and pride. "They can call us a bitch or a ho or gay, straight, bi, or Buddhist. But we don't care!"
And of course, she also addressed international tumult, "especially in the Middle East," saying, "I don't want to see people killed by their fellow man. And if you want to be part of bringing peace to this world, you can start by treating the person next to you like a human being! Fuck yeah!"
But last night, she avoided dropping a truly dumb quote. Like, say, her September endorsement of Obama, the "Black Muslim in the White House."
After wrapping the speaking portion of her show and sending the Majorettes to their dressing room, Madonna crooned through "Masterpiece," the theme from her recent cinematic triumph, W.E., before disappearing backstage for a wardrobe change while gangsta clowns broke it down to a circus-y dubstep-lite remix of "Justify My Love."
Reemerging in her iconic Jean Paul Gaultier cone bra over a Marlene Dietrich pantsuit sans jacket, the Queen of Pop served up some serious wish fulfillment with a straight retro rendition of "Vogue," starring an entire runway show's worth of drag divas in fur, superglittery evening gowns, even corsetted mime costumes.
Now, the MDNA show actually ends with a four-part raveout, beginning with a sci-fi kung fu take on "I'm Addicted," running through the Ray of Light era sitar pop and Bollywood b-boys of "I'm a Sinner" before closing out with the joyous, unbridled, arms-flailing sing-along of "Like a Prayer" and a real-life Dance Dance Revolution soundtracked by 2009 greatest-hits single "Celebration."
However, the deep, dark, sweaty revelation of this tour is her half-naked, slowed-down cabaret version of career-making hit, "Like a Virgin." So far, the media has hyped this borderline NSFW moment for the butt and boob flashes. But it's actually a surprisingly spare, apt, and close-to-the-bone look at Madonna's three-decade sales strategy.
Stripping off her white dress shirt, peeling down to panties, and shoving a hand between her legs, Madonna asks the audience: "You don't mind if I take off my pants, do you? Sometimes it's easier to undress yourself than express yourself."
She writhes around the stage whisper-singing through moans, "I'll be yours till the end of time." She humps the stage like her limbs don't work. And she performs no-hands mock fellatio on the microphone.
The fans, feeling a rush of power, fling wet, crumpled paper money at her prostrate body. And there's Ms. MDNA, folding herself into a human pretzel, literally bending over backward to pick up dirty dollar bills.
Three ingeniously slutty decades ... That's how long she's been selling her ass. But don't get confused by these weird, sexy games. Because Madonna's still the dom. You're still her little bitches. And she's still in total command.
The Crowd: Sluts and virgins, alternates for the MDNA marching band, six-foot male brides in all white, 35-year-old club kids, leather daddies, casual lesbians, sado-masochistic matrons, and the like.
-Virgin Mary Intro
-"Girl Gone Wild"
-"Papa Don't Preach"
-"I Don't Give A"
-"Best Friend" (Video Interlude)
-"Give Me All Your Luvin'"
-"Turning Up the Hits" (Video interlude)
-"Turn Up the Radio"
-"Open Your Heart"
-"Justify My Love" (Video Interlude)
-"Like a Virgin"
-"Nobody Knows Me" (Video Interlude)
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-"I'm a Sinner"
-"Like a Prayer"