In Defence of Madonna – Live Review from Hyde Park, London, Tuesday 17th July 2012

Posted: July 25, 2012 in Pop, Popular Music
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In defence of Madonna – Live Review from Hyde Park, London, Tuesday 17th July 2012

 

The Girl goes Wild - Madonna with dancers July 17th 2012, Hyde Parl,, London, UK

The Girl goes Wild – Madonna with dancers July 17th 2012, Hyde Parl,, London, UK

Celebrities use the media to promote films books and albums all the time and  the media, in spite of the slight  dumbing down of  reporting following the phone hacking scandals in the UK, the media still see the rich and famous as fair game. There is very cynical tendency in this country,  to paraphrase the words of a Tasmin Archer  song,  to  build someone up and then to knock them down no matter what they have  achieved. In this respect Madonna with her frequent changes of style to suit the time, is a target par excellence.

I had originally intended to write a straight review of her recent London show in Hyde Park but all that changed when I read some of the negative reviews of the concert. It’s not that Madonna needs my help in countering negative criticism. She has a very able pres team to do that.  However I do detest exaggerated or unrepresentative reporting. This is one of the reason I started this blog.  What was surprising was that London’s Evening Standard, a free newspaper that hundreds of thousands of commuters pick daily  (in various states)  on their way back from work, was, in my view, the worst offender. This is even more surprising given that their music journalists are well respected and generally a pretty balanced bunch.

But after reading the article I found myself wondering which concert the journalists from the Evening Standard had been watching but it certainly was not the same one as me. They claimed that many in the audience were so dissatisfied that they were leaving early.  I certainly did not see much evidence of people leaving in droves and if they did leave early, it was generally only 10 minutes before the end to beat the mad rush out of the concert site and Hyde Park.

They also made the point that ticket sales were well down – obviously a clear sign things are not going well for Her Madg-es-ty. Evidence perhaps of a fall in the popularity of the once unassailable first lady of pop.  More speculation of someone’s impending downfall. How we love to speculate in old blighty.  So we should believe Madonna’s in trouble.  Put bluntly: this is absolute rot.

Let’s put it in perspective: the concert did not sell out true but Live Nation and Westminster Council have increased the capacity of Hyde Park up to 80,000 from the 50,000 it was a few years ago. Despite this and the fact we are in the middle of a recession the concert sold well enough.

Opening with the first tracks oft new album MDNA, the amazingly fit 53 year singer accompanied by her dancers put on some slick well-rehearsed moves looking very sharp indeed. During the number “Gang Bang” Madonna busted some very intricate and well coordinated moves in a scene set in a bedroom, moving around a dancer as if doing a fight scene and for a long time wielding a pistol. Madonna’s female dancers at that moment of the show looked extras out  from the James Bond intro you see at the start of every film.  Other highlights included Madonna and female dancers coming out as majorettes and a drumming troupe being wheeled out mid-air and being suspended 30 feet (10 metres) off the ground. The audience were also introduced to the delights of two basque musicians playing a folkoric tune and an unintended comic moment when Madonna  recall a phrase in Basque that was about an apple thief  (I think).

You can't beat that. Supended Drummers at Madonna's concer, Hyde Park, July 17th 2012 London UK

You can’t beat that. Supended Drummers at Madonna’s concert, Hyde Park, July 17th 2012 London UK

The latest album MDNA may not be to everyone’s taste but it is following current trends of dance electro-music produced by DJs/music producers and the show was orientated around it. The papers claimed people were moaning because Madonna did not play many of her big hits. It is true that there was on on one occasion only small pre-recored snippets of some her 1984 hits but  contrary to popular belief, it is not necessary to play an anthology of hits to product a good show. There were actually some crowd pleasing hits such as Open Your Heart and Like a Prayer, the latter of which had tens of thousands people singing-along but such hits as there were from the back catalogue focused more on the 90s period of Erotica, an era that was long overdue for a fresh airing. Make no mistake though this show was mainly about MDNA and that part the journalists got right. But MDNA in the context of the show actually works.

Now, I am not a diehard Madonna fan  but I, for one, thought the show was original and edgy and  was more stripped down than previous ones.  Madonna should be applauded for trying to do something different not pilloried in a cynical attempt to boost newspaper ratings. She should also be praised for her work rate and effort during the show. I could only dream of being as fit as that in my fifties but clearly bringing something down is a very British vice as the show has been well received in mainland Europe. Never mind Gaga and Rihanna, the only other female pop artists that can construct an engaging show of this high calibre are Kylie Minogue, Mylene Farmer of France and Tina Turner.   Madonna – carry on playing to packed out venues around Euroipe and prove the doubters wrong.

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