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Oldies But Goldies: Madonna At Yankee Stadium In 2012, More Oldie Than Goldie

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(With Madonna’s 2015 tour starting tomorrow, here is a step back to her 2012 concert, which had me swearing to never see her again. I have changed my mind and am going on September 16th, for my sins, but I am very excited for it. I just think she is too much the pro to screw us over again… Here is my pan -IL)

At the midway point of Madonna’s lousy Yankee Stadium set Thursday night, she hectors the exhausted audience like a shrewish old maid, on the use of of freedom in a consumer society. We have so many freedoms, she intones with an uninspiring, self evident rhetoric, rattling off the usual suspects, before scolding us: “DO NOT DO NOT DO NOT take this freedom for granted or you will lose it in a second… Are you with me New York?”

No, in fact I am not with her.

For one thing, the whole point of American freedom is we don’t have to be political vigilant all the time -we are free to be apolitical. For another, who on earth needs the preening, arrogant, and increasingly stupid Madonna lecturing us in the most banal words imaginable about freedom? Does she really believe somebody is gonna hear this rubbish and say, “wow, I was taking it for granted. Thanks Madonna”.?

If the hour preceding it had been any good, or the hour after it for that matter, perhaps we could forgive Madonna the civics lesson, but instead the lecture was smack in the middle of the worst show Maddie has ever presented. Worse than the “American Life” tour, which wasn’t that hot to start with. The first 40 minutes of the show, all from MDMA, with the death knell bells and the bloody sputtering murders of “Gang Bang” And “Bang Bang”, ritualized dancing and the violence to and by women, was bad enough, but when she finally gets to a hit “Papa Don’t preach” and she rattles off exactly two lines of it before moving on.

The set pieces are augmented by backing tapes beyond all reason, one song is only backing tapes while Madonna changes outfit. Throughout the evening, the lights go from darkness to light, but the significance is so asinine -sad-happy?, something like that, who cares? And at its center, Madonna is more interestied in exercising then singing. At times it feels as if all the vocals are on tape and she sings over them, and when she needs to catch her breath (you can see her chest pounding on the LCD screen), the tapes just take over. Madonna’s priorities are very clear.

The set gets a little traction with Madonna dressed as a Drum Majorette for “Express Yourself”. It is a rather brittle version, but I guess it is fun enough given the options, and it segues into “Born This Way”. Unnecessary, we all know that Gage’s song is too similar to “EY” for comfort, but what the hell. It could have been an elder statesman tipping the hat to her successor. Ha! That’s a joke. Madonna is nasty, sticking her butt in the air and intoning “She is not me”. Really, doesn’t Madge realize how petty, mean spirited, jealous and insecure her actions show her to be? Whatever her real feelings are, Madonna’s public response should have been precisely what it was on the funny cat fight with Gaga on SNL. By putting Lady Gaga down so churlishly, she makes LG loom larger than she really is. Neither Born This Way nor MDMA were such great albums; who are they competing with exactly?

The highlight of the show was a straightforward “Turn On Your Radio” -it is a very good song, maybe the best on the newbie, and Madonna plays it as straight as she can with no Marching Bands dangly from the ceiling. But it was soon followed by an ambient dubstep “Justify Your Love” and a remixed “Vogue”. The former is terrible, the latter isn’t terrible but it doesn’t sound very good either.

A snippet of “Erotic” was better than an extended “Human Nature” and the evening, around midnight, reaches its lowest point with a lethargic rewriting of “Like A Virgin”, like Madeline Kahn in”Blazing Saddles, sining “I’m Tired”. Talk about a mistake. Did nobody play it back for her? A dreary antimelodic disaster area. Does this reflect Madonna’s feelings about sex in general? Or her latest boy toy?

There is an artistic, not to mention musical brain behind the evening, but it isn’t working on all cylinders. It revels in distemper and it isn’t fun. Madonna seems lost in a haze of fear and loathing, as though the last thing she wants is to provide thrills. I’ve never found Madonna a particularly good live act, but she always knew that she had to take care of the raw meat of stomps and hits and she has forgotten this cardinal rule of Stadium size pop star. She doesn’t tie up the sugar before sticking us with her artistic medicine. It is hubris, plain and simple.

And she looks terrible., another thing she shouldn’t do. Madonna looks really bad. Have you ever seen 50 something gym rats? They have this perfectly toned 25 year olds body topped by a death mask of the face. They look twice as old. Madonna is just like that. She doesn’t need the stamina of a 25 year old acrobat. I left after “Like A Virgin”-around an hour and a half into the set, because

1. I didn’t enjoy the set

and

2. I had work the following day.

I wasn’t there late because the set was so long but because it started at a braindead 1015pm. The selfish woman apparently took the Yankee Stadium venue way too seriously and gave her audience the same consideration MLB gives theirs. None whatsoever. The doors were at 6p, the show started at 8p, AVICII -the talented DJ, played a pleasant enough half hour set, nice slides, nice lights, excellent work on Flo Rida’s “Good Feeling”. A tiny figure waved to us from time to time.

By the time Madonna, the first woman to ever headline Yankee Stadium, showed at 1015 I was already exhausted. By the time I left I was in a foul mood. I was worn out by her bad vibes, lack of singing, arrogance. What Madonna needs to do is cut the crap, get a band and tour theaters with a greatest hits package. She needs to grow old with some grace left.

Grade: C-

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