After raking in more than $115 million from her 34 shows overseas, Madonna brought her “MDNA” tour, guns blazing, to the U.S. Tuesday night. The show, at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center, did not start until 10:24 p.m., which added insult to injury to some who paid $355 top ticket, according to reports. The only explanation offered by Madge was “I want to apologize for being late. We had many changes to make from Europe to America, and I wanted the show to be perfect for you because my fans deserve it and quite frankly I deserve it.”
She also continued to voice support for Pussy Riot, as she did on stage in Russia, telling the Philly crowed, “We have freedom of expression. Never forget how lucky you are to live here.”
Watch very high quality video of the opening at the bottom of this post.
From most reports, all was forgiven once she took the stage in a spectacular that won’t soon be forgotten.
Here are some excerpts from opening night reviews:
[More after the jump...]
Jon Pareles, New York Times: “Madonna, at 54, isn’t giving in to pop obsolescence. The concert is a display of energy and nutty inventiveness, with Madonna costumed as everything from baton twirler to folk dancer...Madonna may never have an impressive voice, only an adequate and tenacious one. Perhaps its limitations help her write melodies that are easier for the vast pop audience to sing. Backing vocals and electronic effects often help her along onstage, though she does dare to expose her voice for part of the show. And Madonna still looks silly when, as she did in “I Don’t Give A,” she slings an electric guitar and makes rocker-chick faces; it’s odd that someone so physically disciplined can’t fake better guitar moves...The details have always mattered to Madonna, and in this new extravaganza they add up. The effort is visible, but so is the delirious impulse behind it.”
Dan DeLuca, Philadelphia Inquirer: “The still-ripped 54-year-old singer played an often-entertaining hour and 45-minute set weighted towards the electronic dance tracks from her 2012 album MDNA... The show was focused less on the irresistibly grabby pop hits that made Madonna such a innovative superstar in the 1980s. When many of her most recognizable songs were played, they were rendered in altered form....The staging of the MDNA tour is often tortuous and dark. There's a whole lot of sturm and drang psychodrama attached to lightweight songs like "Girl Gone Wild." Madonna has said that the show depicts a "journey of a soul from darkness to light...However, the toy AK-47 and revolver-waving in the early stages of the show - which included the singer play-acting the beating, killing, and spitting on a worthless paramour (and probable Guy Ritchie stand-in) during "Gang Bang" - served mainly as an examples of a veteran superstar overreaching for-relevance and weighing her songs down with a burden they can't hold.”
Victor Fiorillo, Philadelphia Magazine: “Much like Roger Waters’s The Wall performance at Citizens Bank Park in July, the Madonna show transcended the standard “concert experience” and was as much over-the-top, scripted theatrical spectacle as it was pop concert...In Europe, Madonna was criticized for all this guns, gore and violence. But this is Philadelphia in the United States of America. We are armed and dangerous. And so is she. And we love it.”
Chris Payne, Billboard: “The first American performance of her ninth world tour was a show of strength for the pop star, as she and her ensemble tore through nearly two-dozen cuts from her ever-deep catalog. She generally avoided her earliest albums (with a somber piano rendition of "Like a Virgin" and "Papa Don't Preach" the main exceptions) and crafted an eclectic mix of highlights from her post-1980s material...Though she'd wind up wielding her guitar a bit later on, there's a good chance she spent just as much time wielding various firearms over the course of the evening. This set the tone for most of the performance -- one that was energized, jarring, and unafraid to push the pop envelope.”
Brian McManus, Rolling Stone: “The first act of MDNA is heavy on violent imagery, and Madonna has taken some heat for her use of gun props. During the first three numbers – "Girls Gone Wild," "Revolver" and "Gang Bang" – she toted a gun around the stage. On the last, she holed up in a cheap-hotel setting, besieged on all sides by men dressed in black and wearing ski masks...The second act pepped things up quite a bit. Ditching the all-black outfit she wore for the first songs of the set, Madonna reappeared in stunning white alongside majorettes and a levitating drumline suspended from the ceiling. She cheekily blended "Express Yourself" with Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" and then took a shot at the young starlet, singing, "She's not me!" a few times.”
MADONNA'S PHILADELPHIA SET LIST (according to Billboard)
Girl Gone Wild
Papa Don't Preach
I Don't Give A *
Express Yourself - Born This Way
Give Me All Your Lovin'
Turn Up The Radio
Open Your Heart
Justify My Love
The Erotic Candy Shop
Like A Virgin
Nobody Knows Me
I'm A Sinner
Like A Prayer
For a list of U.S.tour dates, go here.