Learning to love Madonna
“You don’t go to Madonna for vulnerability: she is all about self-determination, pleasure and defiance,” musician and writer Tracey Thorn writes on her fortnightly “Off the Record” column for the New Statesman.
Best known as one half of Everything but the Girl, Tracey went to see Madonna at the Palladium in central London, “an intimate venue for such a superstar“. Here’s an excerpt of her review:
Tonight, as she appears on the stage, the audience rise as one, giving her a standing ovation that lasts for the full two hours of the show. We sit for a couple of brief moments, but otherwise remain on our feet in her presence, and it seems appropriate. You don’t need me to tell you the show is spectacular, what else would it be? Projected images dazzle and challenge, the stage transforms, the costumes keep coming, the dancers don’t miss a beat. And nor does Madonna herself. Of course she doesn’t. Bitch, she’s Madonna. So no, we don’t get many of the hits, and yes, we do get most of the new album, which is never what an artist’s fans would choose were they to do the choosing. But while Madonna is a great entertainer, she’s no craven crowd-pleaser. The job of keeping herself interested is what, I suspect, motivates her. Churning out the old hit singles would make for a very different kind of concert, one that she would have no interest in.
Instead, we get a show that is a kind of art-pop West End musical that reminds me of the films and pop videos made by Derek Jarman: not afraid to be grandiose, or even pretentious, knowing that great pop is strong enough to bear the weight of both those things without collapsing. She has always played with imagery that is religious, or militaristic, full of big bold symbols, harnessing a kind of camp rebelliousness which is serious without being dull.
Read the full article on the New Statesman.