Philadelphia Show No.1
After his VIP experience and pictures he took at the venue, longtime MadonnaTribe member, DLo, wanted to share his review of the first Madame X theatre show at The MET in Philadelphia, PA, on saturday night.
Saturday’s first Philly show started at 11:25pm. Sound check and rehearsals went until a little after 8:30pm. We learned on the Medellín VIP backstage tour that showtime is approx 3 hours after that’s done.
M was in a great mood and sounded excellent. Having a front row seat, I could literally hear her over the mic through at least have the show and was able to appreciate her voice in a way I never have before – she does not get enough credit as a vocalist as she’s singing better in this show than I think I’ve ever seen before.
She referenced her injuries several times throughout the night and did mention it was very cold in the theater, which isn’t good for the injuries. For the Polaroid moment, she was brought a large fur coat to keep her warm while she was still.
The Polaroid sold for $3K to a woman who was a furniture designer (can’t recall her name – which is probably the only moment I wish I had my phone so I could take notes). Having a front toe seat, I was able to observe the bidding exchange and M’s Security had already found the first bidder (at $2K), while taking the other bids from the audience quietly, and without M’s knowledge. My neighbor tried to offer $1600 and was told by Security it was no dice. Once the $3K winner was up there (who had put the cash in little Christmas gift boxes and a small “M” Santa stocking – which M did not keep), someone a few rows back tried to offer $4K but Security squashed it.
The music: Let me start with a confession: Madame X is my least favorite Madonna album. There’s a smattering of songs I like, and I respect the message and international influence on the musical stylings, but it’s the first album that I haven’t been playing on repeat for months – Ever. Now, that said, in this live theatrical setting, the songs came to life in a way I didn’t expect and I have fallen in love. The journey she has crafted delivers its message with more punch and I have a newfound appreciation for Madame X. God Control, I Don’t Search I Find, Batuka, and Extreme Occident we’re particularly compelling.
On the oldies front, Human Nature and Frozen were stellar. The jazz horn additive on the former gave it a feel that fit perfectly fits this show, while the interpretive dance that begins with the Rescue Me interlude leading into a giant projection of Lourdes’ own dance performance is the climax of the show. Vogue is always nice to have, but without new (or old) “strike a pose” presentational choreography, I actually could have done without it.
The Medellín VIP backstage tour included a conversation with Musical Director Kevin Antunes, and he shared a bit about how the song selection process worked this time around. There were many songs that were tried, Ray of Light for example, that just didn’t fit the musical styling M was after.
The Fado section of the show works much better than I anticipated. Going in, I thought it might be the snoozer section, but it actually had the Philly crowd (myself included) more energized and dancing than any other part of the show. Batuka came off as brilliant, Medellín was like a Zumba class dance-a-long, and even tried & true La Isla Bonita fit in with a Portuguese flare. To add, prior to the start of the show, a few members of the band treated the waiting audience to instrumental versions of Secret, Like a Virgin, Who’s That Girl and Don’t Tell Me which served as fun sing-a-long warm-up.
M was the most personable I’ve ever seen her in my 14 shows since 2001. Her audience beer moment was actually a 3-way with an energetic couple, and her final fist-raising “I Rise” fueled exit through the aisle left the impact to stand up for change above it all that she intended. Definitely a moving moment to end on.