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"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Monday, October 16, 2023

Madonna : The Celebration Tour @ O2 Arena...

Last night I went to see Madonna's The Celebration Tour at the O2 Arena in London's glitzy North Greenwich.
The evening started somewhat slowly. We had all taken our seats by 8 o’clock and we waited. And waited. And waited. A technical hitch? Oh well.  No announcement.  We waited some more. And eventually just after 9 pm Bob the Drag Queen (who?) swanned onto the arena floor to start the show. Hurrah! 
They did a bit of business, chatting to the crowd, making jokes, before making the other esoteric conclusion "it’s a not party, it’s a celebration." OK.
Then Madonna appeared like a vision, kicking off with a Nothing Really Matters. Everyone jumped to their feet and 20,000 phones were whipped out.  All was forgiven.
The next two hours were sensational. The show was great. Better than great, glorious.
We started with some personal stories, how Madonna started off her career, although these stories got a little lost in the mix as the show went on. In fact as the night progresssed it really became an exercise in cramming in hit after hit. Which was fine by us!
It was a fabulous extravaganza of a night, at times bizarre, technically clever, a smorgasbord of brilliant ideas. The thrusting staging and video screens allowed for hundreds of Madonna easter eggs; videos, images and callbacks to other shows and TV appearances.
We had a bed, a grand piano, whips, a dancing ring of fire, and an orgy. Oh yes and crucifixes - lots and lots of crucifixes.
The screens rolled up and down throughout the auditorium enhancing the action on stage with video clips whilst video cameras themselves helped project whatever Madonna was actually doing on stage - so the people in the 'cheap' seats (i.e. me) could see what was going on. 
The dancers were incredible and the sound was top-notch. There was some pathos in the night, too, with a moving tribute to AIDS victims, human rights attacks and homophobia.
Vogue was very ‘Pose’ – a Vogue ball catwalk, which was really very funny.
Many of the songs were reinterpreted and mashed up with other Madonna songs, all along with songs that she admired by other artists.
There was a punk version of Burning Up, Sam Smith's Unholy was mingled in with Like A Prayer and Beyoncé’s Break My Soul nestled alongside the aforementioned Vogue.
We had plenty of Madonna's family on stage too; playing guitar on Mother and Father, playing piano on Bad Girl, and indeed voguing with the best of them on Vogue.
The show was cut into acts by video segments, giving a chance for Madonna to change costumes, and hopefully have a bit of a sit down. How she’s going to keep her energy levels up for the world tour is beyond me. She was dancing and prancing most of the night like a young gazelle.
Her singing was great too, and don’t believe what people tell you about her miming. Sure, I’m sure there was a bit of vocal enhancement, but why not? We don’t want her gasping with breath as she finishes each song.
Highlights for me were the brilliant staging of Ray of Light (complete with a floating window that transported her higher across the audit auditorium.)
Bedtime Story was also amazing.  Not so much for the song necessarily, but for the staging. A beautiful video box had Madonna dressed in silver catsuit squirming about on the top. It was absolutely wonderful.
The only dud for the evening perhaps for me was Die Another Day. I don’t really like that song, and to be honest, it seemed a bit of a misstep.
Of course there are 100s of other songs I’d love to have heard; True Blue, Borderline, Frozen to name but three... but time was tight - well, very tight as it turned out.
As Madonna had started so late (due to a technical hitch) and she had used up her 30-minute courtesy period the show was cut short. She finished Rain at 11pm, turned on her heel and said "Goodbye London".  The lights came on and we were told to leave.
So we missed (albeit video versions of) Like a Virgin, the Michael Jackson medley, Bitch I'm Madonna, Give me all Your Lovin', Unapologetic Bitch, Celebration and Music.
Oh well it was a great show. I have to say probably up there with one of her best - so if you are going to the show you will absolutely love it
The set list:-
Act I
Video: Its Not a Party...Its A Celebration! (Spoken word skit by Bob The Drag Queen)
Nothing Really Matters
Everybody (Contains elements of “Where’s the Party”)
Into the Groove (Contains elements of "Into the Hollywood Groove")
Burning Up
Open Your Heart (Contains elements of “Live to Tell”)
Holiday (Contains elements of “I Want Your Love” by Chic)
Act II
Video: The Storm (Contains elements of “In This Life”)
Live to Tell (dedicated to all AIDS victims)
Video: The Ritual (Dancers Interlude; Contains elements of "Girl Gone Wild")
Like a Prayer (Contains elements of “Girl Gone Wild”, "Act of Contrition" and “Unholy” by Sam Smith and Kim Petra)
Video: Blonde Ambition (Contains elements of “Living For Love” & "Erotica" & “Justify My Love” & ''Fever" )
Erotica (Contains elements of "Erotica (Final Demo 2)" and "Papa Don't Preach")
Justify My Love (contains elements of "Gangsta" by Kehlani)
Fever (Eddie Cooley cover)
Hung Up (Contains elements of "Hung Up on Tokischa", "Gangsta" by Kehlani and “Fever" )
Bad Girl
Act IV
Video: Ballroom (Dancers Interlude; Contains elements of "Up Down Suite", "Vogue" and "BREAK MY SOUL (THE QUEENS MIX))
Human Nature (Shortened)
Crazy for You
Act V
Video: The Beast Within
Die Another Day
Don't Tell Me
Mother and Father
I Will Survive (Gloria Gaynor cover)
La isla bonita
Don't Cry for Me Argentina (Andrew Lloyd Webber cover)
Act VI
Video: Madonna (Contains elements of "I Don't Search I Find" )
Bedtime Story (Contains elements of Junior's Sound Factory Mix)
Ray of Light (Sasha Ultra Violet Mix Edit)
Lights on!
So no...
Like a Virgin (Elements of "Smooth Criminal”, “Billie Jean", “Dangerous”, "YRMW", "The Way You Make Me Feel" by MJ )
Bitch I'm Madonna (Contains elements of "Give Me All Your Luvin" and "Unapologetic Bitch")
Celebration (Contains elements of "Music")

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