Thursday, July 26, 2012

Olympian Goddess: Best Madonna Concert Ever?





I’m still coming down from the high of Madonna’s concert at The Olympia in Paris on July 26th, 2012, a day that will live on in history as one of Madonna’s most important contributions to the arts. In fact, I'm still stunned that it's over. 


Madonna's new single: the PERFECT opener to a PERFECT show!

The first half of the show was Madonna at her most human. There were minor glitches which I noticed but can’t remember, and a sense of “first time out” nervousness that typically arises on the opening night of any Madonna tour but which is usually absent from her most polished TV performances. I LOVED her speech to the audience, where she was at her most revealing in admitting that she doesn't actually want to create enemies. Madonna loves to stir it up onstage, but I don't think the human being offstage is nearly as confrontational when she's not holding a microphone. Then we were treated to that stunning "Justify My Love" interlude, which I am convinced was partly inspired by Behind The Green Door and which was exquisite in a club setting. Then, the black-and-white, filmed Madonna transitioned into the real woman for "Vogue", and without losing an ounce of Old Hollywood star quality. Madonna's look during this number in The MDNA Tour is my favorite Madonna look EVER, and seeing those famous eyes of Bette Davis staring at me from my screen when she sang "Bette Davis, we love you" was utterly thrilling. 



Nothing brings out my inner child quite like a STUNNING new rendition of "Vogue"!

At first I thought it was a condensed version of The MDNA Tour in an improved setting. I couldn't believe how much more audience-engaging these numbers seemed at The Olympia than they did in the stadium footage on YouTube, and I was positively ecstatic by how fueled Madonna was by the French audience when she performed that sizzling "Candy Shop"/"Erotica" number with Brahim Zaibat. Actually, I was kind of distracted by him--for a twenty four year old, he sure has a worldliness when he dances that matches her youthfulness. It makes their age difference non-existent, and their chemistry is overwhelming. I expected her to segue into "Like A Virgin", but then she blew my mind by giving us all the performance of "Beautiful Killer" we'd been waiting for--AND THEN SOME! My mind was slightly cluttered by all the potential UK & US tabloid headlines about Madonna's insensitivity in putting guns in her show. In fact, I hate to admit that imagining uninformed TV pundits claiming she was using last week's tragedy to stir up controversy nearly blotted out the music I was hearing and loving. Thankfully those screaming fans in Paris and that Goddess on the stage distracted me from all that. Like she said, the enemy is within, and Madonna kicked its ass. When she sang“Je t'aime… moi non plus”, I thought I might die: it was as though she was performing a duet with the spirit of Serge Gainsbourg, and gave one of the best acting performances of her career. When that number ended, I was preparing for her to return with "Like A Prayer" or "Celebration", assuming the show would end as the tour does. When it didn't, I was even MORE stunned by the last two songs--bravo to my favorite living artist for leaving those last images burned into our mind like the final frames of a great (FRENCH) movie. 


The 9-minute, 2-song finale: among the greatest highlights of Madonna's entire career.

Madonna has promoted her new music with club gigs since 1998’s Ray of Light prompted that legendary 2:30 AM mini-concert at The Roxy in New York, and since 2000’s Music she’s streamed many of these club gigs on AOL or MSN. Her MDNA mini-concert streamed on YouTube and marked the first time that such a performance came four months after the release of the related album and two months after the launch of a world tour. It was a truly unprecedented gig akin to her 2005 hints at having The Confessions Tour accompanied by club appearances around the USA.  Staging The Olympia Show after The MDNA Tour has already become enmeshed in her career history underlined the widely held opinion that Madonna’s performances definitely work best in small venues. Six of the greatest hours of my life were spent seeing Madonna in stadiums, and I’m certainly not suggesting that her arena and stadium shows are somehow inferior to what we all just saw at The Olympia. But there’s no denying that the innate theatricality of everything Madonna does, especially when she’s holding a microphone, is best appreciated the closer you are to her.


The 2012 re-invention of "Open Your Heart" plays BEAUTIFULLY in a smaller venue!

In light of recent events in Colorado, I’m inclined to think Madonna’s performances of “Beautiful Killer/Die Another Day” and “Je t'aime… moi non plus” will be controversial for a few weeks. But I’m more certain that they will go on to be remembered among the finest performances of her career. Future Madonna fans won’t be caring about how many records MDNA sold--or, I should sadly say, didn't sell. They’ll just wish they could turn the clock back and see the show that we all just saw when it was live and current and being watched by fans all around the world all at the same time. When I was screaming and jumping in my living room as loud and as high as the crowds in France, I was not the only one involuntarily putting on a separate show entirely. In fact, there were probably screaming complaints in every major city during those glorious minutes when Madonna refused to let the media terrorists win by giving the performance of "Beautiful Killer" that every fan has been dreaming of. “American Life” could have hurt Madonna’s career if the wildly violent and utterly brilliant original video had been broadcast. But I refuse to believe it would have done any more damage than what was done when she pulled it, in turn disappointing a number of fans who look to her to be ever-defiant. I truly believe she did this to protect her then-husband’s career more than her own. Without that concern at The Olympia, she could be as audacious and brilliant as we wanted her to be. And boy, was she EVER.




"BEAUTIFUL KILLER": The Madonnarama edit of Madonna's CLASSIC number!



Addendum, 07/28/12: 

Well, it turned out to be controversial.....but not for the reasons I expected. I won't link to footage that's all over YouTube of fans hurling obscenities and empty water bottles onstage after the show ended. I sympathize with fans who paid close to $400 for tickets without realizing they were only getting a fifty minute show, especially as I'm STILL saving up my pennies for Madonna's upcoming tour stop in Boston this September. I'll comment on that infamous audience reaction in an upcoming post closer to Madonna Day 2012, but for now I'll leave you with the final performance of the show. I hope this isn't pulled from YouTube any time soon, because I think it's one of Madonna's finest hours. I don't consider Madonna "The Queen of Pop" because of all the money she's made or the records she broke in the process. I consider her "The Queen"--we can drop the "of Pop" bit in RobWorld--because she is not only capable of creating great works of art but also of creating great works of FUN. I have watched this over and over because it is as ridiculously entertaining as it is mentally stimulating. It's more like the final scene of the movie that I have always dreamed Madonna and Dario Argento would make together, not the closing number of one of her concerts. It certainly put the French audience over the edge--no wonder they were so inclined to riot! I'm well aware that I am A.) biased and B.) don't have money to throw around, but I'm still inclined to believe these 4.5 minutes alone were worth the price of admission.


Madonnarama's edit of Madonna's unbelievable take on "Je t'aime...moi non plus"


07/29/12 UpdateMadonna's response to her legendary night at l'Olympia.* (I know I'm not the only one who thinks Marine Le Pen played a role in this...) 

*Thank you GangsterSaysRelax!!

08/06/12 Double Update

1.) Madonna speaking to her fans to address the l'Olympia controversy when she brought The MDNA Tour to Vienna several days after the Paris club show. 




2.) The full-length show is finally BACK ON YOUTUBE in an HD "Director's Cut" version that has been personally approved by Madonna!!


(Psst! You can also download the whole performance thanks to Madonnarama!;) 

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