It happened. I popped my Madonna live-in-concert cherry. As she naughtily noted at Saturday’s concert at the Barclay Center, she too popped her cherry with her first time performing in Brooklyn. “I’m a virgin, can you believe that?”
Even though I’ve fanatically watched and died over all of Madonna’s fantastic tours on YouTube, experiencing Madge IRL really felt like I had been touched (by her performance!) for the very first time. No matter how HD the vids may be, nothing could prepare me for her overwhelmingly enchanting, goose-bumps inducing stage presence. I realized this right away via her grand entrance, which involved a caged Madgesty slowly descending to center stage while aptly singing “Iconic” from her latest LP, Rebelheart. Once the cage doors burst open, the lioness would roar and slay for nearly two hours, only retracting her claws and licking her wounds for the ballads. But
then she’d obviously rise again, because, bitch, she’s Madonna. (She said something like, “New York can chew you up. But I survived,” between songs to the thunderous roar/squeals from her fans of every age.)
My eyeballs didn’t know what to do with themselves when the pint-sized entertainer did a quick change. Of course Madonna runs with a fabulous army of dancers, and they did their incredible thing (like flying in the air on rubber band-y stilts), but I couldn’t help but imagine the showgirl entertaining in an intimate venue with just a jazz band and a duo of backup singers sans costume changes — the Swarovski crystal blinged out flapper dress she rocks on the tour would slaying-ly suffice. The acoustic sing-along of “True Blue” and “Who’s That Girl” were heart-warming highlights for me, because it was Madonna seemingly at her truest, with just her guitar, her seriously underrated vocals and that iconic innate charisma.
I’m totally not saying her dance floor moments aren’t to be applauded — I loved the choreo for “Unapologetic Bitch” (the number where she brought Anderson Cooper onstage to spank him and feed him a banana). I nearly fainted/choked on my popcorn when she performed “Deeper And Deeper.” I held my breath when she regally ascended the stairs in a massive majestic cape during “Living For Love,” and when it was stripped by her duo of dancers sans tumble, the audience lost their minds. Redundant understatement alert: Madonna is brave. Always has been, always will be. We all know this. She’s got stripping nuns on this tour for Christ’s sake. But I found her at her bravest when she strutted and pelvic-thrusted during an electro rendition of “Like A Virgin.” There was no dancer in sight, and she was smiling, reaching for her fans’ hands, totally living for the outpouring of love.
Speaking of love, Madonna tossed a bouquet to a gay couple, encouraging them to make-out. “C’Mon, you can do better than that!” she yelled, followed by an “It all goes downhill from here. Seriously.” This led to a Material Girl-less moment. “My ex-husband came to my show the other night at Madison Square Garden. He had been at my show there thirty years earlier and was very upset with me for wearing a costume that was too revealing,” she explained without saying his name, because, duh, true Madonna fans know she’s talking about Sean fucking Penn. “After this show, he wrote me a letter and said he finally appreciated my art.” She then paused very briefly — she’s a master at timing. “And that’s what I have to say about marriage! Thirty fucking years later!” We laughed, albeit one of those comforting it-gets-better laughs. Before gifting us with the stunning ukulele-led rendition of “La Vie En Rose,” Madonna shared another confession: “I’m a true romantic. I’ll never stop believing in love.” Always the queen of reinvention, I left believing that the queen of pop is a (gasp!) human. For me, this is her best headline-friendly statement yet.