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Madonna mixes politics and high energy music at Consol show

| Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, 10:16 a.m.

REVIEW

Were we at a Madonna concert or an Obama political rally? That was a question some people at Consol Energy Center both thought and said out loud on Tuesday, as pop music's larger-than-life, original “bad girl” stormed the stage with her energetic music, theatrics, choreography and sassy political commentary.

Madonna's MDNA Tour show stopped in Pittsburgh on election night, so audience members knew what to expect. Madonna proudly proclaims her liberal beliefs and love for President Obama at her shows, and we could only expect that would intensify on election night, as it did. Judging by the ratio of cheering versus booing, more than half of Madonna's fans were celebrating Obama's victory along with her, and none of her talk was mean-spirited. Madge even addressed the Republicans in the audience and said, hey, she loves them, too.

While some fans merely tolerate rather than enjoy the politics, all go to a Madonna show for the sheer enjoyment of the music. Madonna oozes sensual stage charisma, and could be a dancer in her own right even if she didn't sing. Her shows offer as much for the eyes as they do for the ears, with a troupe of dancers in flamboyant costumes, flashy graphics on the backing screen, changing scenery and smart choreography. Watching a Madonna show gives the audience an experience similar to watching a Broadway musical. Although some parts of the singing seemed recorded, Madonna undoubtedly sang live for a good portion of the songs.

The show's scenes included one in a diorama-like hotel room, with an armed Madonna singing “Revolver” as she overcomes her lover. For the song “Express Yourself,” Madonna and her band members dressed up in red and white marching band outfits, with Madonna twirling a baton. One of the evening's highlights came with the singing of the powerful 1989 hit “Like a Prayer,” where members of Madonna's troupe put on church robes and played the role of choir, with gothic church images on the backing screen graphics.

The MDNA Tour's main flaw is that it mostly ignores Madonna's music from her heyday in the early and mid ‘80s. While the show does include a few of the late ‘80s songs, including “Vogue,” the rest of the show focused on Madonna's more recent work of the past decade. Except for a stray teaser lyric here and there, we heard next to nothing from Madonna's “Like a Virgin” or “True Blue” era, or her first album — except for a fun performance of the happy, bouncy “Holiday.”

The audience included mostly 30- and 40-something women, who grew up with Madonna's music, although many enthusiastic male fans came, too. Several women dressed up in cutesy, ‘80s-style Madonna-esque garb from her “Desperately Seeking Susan” days, with leg warmers, lacy skirts, big sunglasses and the wavy hair.

Many fans left the concert before it ended around 1 a.m., likely some because they were tired of the political talk. But a more likely explanation is that most early leavers were simply exhausted and wanted to get up for work Wednesday morning. Madonna inconvenienced us by beginning her set some 40 minutes after it was supposed to start at 10 p.m., and didn't offer an explanation for the long delay, which she has been known to do at many concerts. But the show was so fabulous that it was worth the delay, annoying as it was.

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kgormly@tribweb.com or 412-320-7824.

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