- Mon, 2008-09-15 10:18
London's Wembley Stadium was Madonna’s eighth stop on the European leg of her Sticky and Sweet tour and provided testament to the 50-year-old superstar’s iconic status.
I first saw Madonna live at this very venue (albeit the previous version of Wembley Stadium) way back in 1990. I was sweet 16, dressed in cut off denims with copycat blonde curly hair, and had claimed my position right up the front. Subsequently I was blown away by the uber gutsy and inspirational Blonde Ambition World Tour performance. 18 years later, this time I may not have come over all emotional when Madonna sang Express Yourself, but I was still amazed by the “nifty-at-50” year-old innovative icon at this week’s concert.
The choreography was outstanding, the two-hour show exciting, engaging and enchanting in equal measure and Madonna’s level of energy even higher than on her Confessions Tour. This blonde still has ambition to do her thing and do it well! Of course, Madonna has always known how to entertain, and this action-packed gig did not disappoint. OK, so some reviewers have complained about the sound quality or the great M’s lateness, but, for me, this was another incredible show of iconic proportions.
Even the eye-catching video interludes were spell-binding, in particular the Rain remix at the end of Part Two which sees robotic Japanese dancers perform before the video screens go partially translucent to reveal Madonna in a cage inside them. The audience can simultaneously see rain drops on the video screen and Madonna inside it – breathtaking. And, talking of rain, while I looked up at the increasingly grey clouds peppering the night sky above, Madonna declared at the end of the gig, “Thank you London…it didn’t f***ing rain!”
Here at I Like Music, we prefer to focus on the music rather than celeb-spotting, artist-dissing or private lives gossip… So, let’s break it down…
Madonna arrives on stage wearing fishnets, black boots, a black fishnet leotard and bikini type combo, along with black leather gloves and a white top hat. Oozing sexuality, she has the figure of a 20 year old (albeit a muscular one) and the crowd go appropriately wild. Kicking off with an upbeat and uplifting rendition of Candy Shop, other highlights include Beat Goes On as a white car drives up to the front of the stage while Kanye West appears virtually on screen; followed by Britney’s virtual appearance for Human Nature during which Madonna effortlessly plays her guitar and declares, “I’m not your bitch,” just before Britney responds with, “It’s Britney, bitch” to huge applause. It’s not the first time Britney has joined forces with Madonna. They teamed up in 2003 on Britney’s Me Against The Music single and snogged at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards.
Where Madonna’s Confessions Tour saw more of a dancey direction, there’s a hip-hop-esque vibe to this whole show which favoured recent hits over old. Although there were some firm past favourites, (Into The Groove, Vogue, La Isla Bonita) it’s ghetto rather than retro.
After Human Nature, the crowd-teasing tick-tock riff from 4 Minutes starts up before Madonna launches into the crowd-pleasing Vogue. Part One concludes with Madonna’s incredibly talented dancers showing off their fantastically fancy footwork in a boxing ring over a Die Another Day remix, with high impact sound effects of choreographed boxing punches.
A splash of colour is added to proceedings as Into The Groove is mashed up with Jump while Madonna comes on stage sporting red shorts, a black hoodie with the M logo emblazoned on it and black knee high socks. Her DJ scratches and Madonna skips with a skipping rope over broken beats, showcasing both her toned legs and her high energy. It’s the most awesome beat-driven version of Into The Groove we’ve ever heard! A booty-shaking Heartbeat follows before Madonna plays a rocked-up version of Borderline on her purple electric guitar. Rather than a ridiculous amount of costume changes, Madonna focuses her energy on the show itself and the dancing. With the only costume change during this part a pair of fingerless gloves and heart-shaped sunglasses, Madonna opens her hoodie to reveal her name written inside it as she sings She’s Not Me with passion, “Bitch, steal my style… she doesn’t have my name… she’ll never have what I have… it won’t be the same.” No doubt! There’s only one Madonna.
And, to the crowds delight, Madonna goes mad, punching and kicking the air before throwing her red shorts into the lucky front rows. Last Night A DJ Saved My Life starts to play out before Madonna’s famous mash-up of Music (with Fedde Le Grand’s Put Your Hands Up) gets the crowd dancing as M’s colourfully dressed dancers emerge from an underground train carriage to show us how it’s done. This is followed by an exquisite remix of Rain and Eurythmics’ Here Comes The Rain Again.
Madonna emerges wearing a mini black and multi-colour kaftan (I want one!) with thigh high black boots. A grand piano accompanies her on the plinth at the end of the stage and the light catches her hair. Madonna is so beautiful! She sings a very powerful Devil Wouldn’t Recognize You, followed by a Neptunes-esque Spanish Lesson featuring Flamenco dancing. The gorgeous Miles Away then sees Madonna revisit her acoustic guitar and showcase her unique vocal. There’s only one place it can go from here with this international flavour… La Isla Bonita. The BPM is turned up a notch as the much sped up version of this fantastic song (complete with Spanish style hats and violins) invites both on-stage dancers and audience alike to participate in a right old knees-up. Madonna knocks back a sangria and launches into an accordion-accompanied You Must Love Me. (Indeed we must M – check out the adoration of the audience).
As Madonna dashes off stage, the tick-tock riff starts up with a Get Stupid remix featuring the lyrics, “you have got to say what’s on your mind,” over video footage of those who’ve done just that, from Mother Theresa and Michael Moore to Obama (potential future US president).
As the curfew of 10.30pm approaches (there is notably just four minutes left) 4 Minutes gets into full swing featuring Justin Timberlake on speaker screens. This is followed by a full on rave version of Like A Prayer during which various prayers and inspirational messages are played on a video screen, such as “We are sons of one religion – THE SPIRIT.” A rocked-up/electro-fused version of Ray Of Light follows before two real highlights of the show, Hung Up and, the finale, Give It 2 Me. Wow!
Madonna – icon, living legend, and all round pop queen – yes she has still got it and, as such she continues to stick to our collective pop consciousness like sticky glue. Sticky! Sweet!
The Sticky & Sweet Tour 2008 continues throughout Europe until Athens on 27th September before going to North America from 4th October until 26th November and Central/Southern America from 29th November until 21st December where the tour closes in Sao Paulo.
Review by Cheryl Rickman
Madonna Sweet & Sticky Tour Set List
Beat Goes On
Die Another Day Remix
Into The Groove
She’s Not Me
Rain Remix (Here Comes The Rain Again)
Devil Wouldn’t Recognize You
La Isla Bonita/Lela Pala Tute
You Must Love Me
Get Stupid Remix
Like A Prayer
Ray Of Light
Give It 2 Me (Finale)