Take Madonna, for example. She’s been dancing, remixing, touring and writhing around on stage for 20+ years and is still among the best at it. In my mind, her ego is largely justified.
As a longtime Madonna fan (I clearly remember a family Fourth of July celebration around age 5 where, as the sun went down and a slight chill set in, my aunt urged me to change out of my “Madonna outfit” and into something more reasonable, like jeans – a suggestion at which I scoffed. Her comeback? “Do you think Sean Penn would let Madonna wear this?”), I have developed a high tolerance for her self-promoting ways.
Madonna fans revel in her confidence. Last night at Yankee Stadium, her first New York City show on her MDNA tour, Madonna mixed her own “Express Yourself” with pieces of “Born This Way,” the Lady Gaga hit that has often been called a Material Girl ripoff (or at least a serious derivative). At the end of that bit, Madonna sauntered around stage and claimed “there’s only one queen of pop.”
Claims like “queen of pop” seem irrelevant in today’s music world, so we’ll let her have that one. But what I will say is that while her show was packed with superb choreography, brilliant costume changes and enough hits to keep me dancing at least half of the time, it did not live up to the first time I saw her live, in Chicago in 2008.
That show, part of her Sticky & Sweet tour, was more high-energy, more old-school Madonna. Last night’s show was darker, slower and leaned too heavily on her backup dancers and strange remixes of her songs. (One guy on the 6 train home described it best: “I don’t know why she’s so unhappy.”)
Regardless, it was a spectacular show and a great way to round out my New York City concert experiences. Let’s just hope that next time I see her she keeps it more…real.