I’ve tried to copy her hair, clothes and makeup, re-enacted her dance routines for the pleasure of my primary school class and brownie pack, and wallpapered my bedroom walls with pictures of her. This would be highly disturbing behaviour if the person in question didn’t happen to be the long-reigning Queen of the pop tune, Madonna.
For over twenty years I’ve idolised the woman, her ever-changing looks, musical styles, and endless ability to cause a scandal. True Blue was the first bit of vinyl in my collection, gladly handing five weeks’ of carefully saved pocket money over the counter in Woolworths record department. The Immaculate Collection has seen me through university days and beyond, and my iPod is now heaving with decades’ worth of Madge’s finest.
When I finally got the chance to see the lady herself on the UK leg of her MDNA world tour in London’s Hyde Park this week I was beside myself – actual Madonna!!! I’m not sure how I’ve managed to avoid previous tours, but where better to start my appreciation of live-performing Madge than on a warm-ish July night in the heart of a pre-Olympic capital city.
With Springsteen and McCartney silenced for over-running at the Hard Rock Calling event at the same venue only days earlier, the procession of Material Girls and boys making their way into the park may have wondered whether anyone would dare pull the plug on pop’s first lady. I know I certainly wouldn’t mess!
Once through the gates DJ Martin Solveig and party rockers LMFAO added to what was already an upbeat and friendly atmosphere. I thought I was a Madonna superfan, but questioned my level of devotion at the sight of several people with entire upper arms given over to a tattoo of her face!
Girl Gone Wild, the first track from the dance-heavy MDNA album provided a brilliant opener, as the lady herself made her much anticipated first appearance in an age-defying black catsuit. If I look that good in spray on material when I’m half a century old, I will be more than happy.
Sensationalism is part of Madonna’s long-standing appeal, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise to find the show featured guns, bloodshed, religious imagery, sex, politics and all kinds of general on-stage shenanigans!
I’m always open to giving new music a chance, but let’s be honest, everyone wanted to hear those tunes my friends and I based our dance routines on all those years ago. Express yourself, complete with a cheeky dig at Lady GaGa’s copycat Born This Way well and truly delivered the goods, and in an instant I was back in the 80s (minus the bad hair).
In a venue so huge views of the superstar popstar weren’t amazing, but thanks to the mega- screens either side of the crowd, and whichever genius thought to make piles of wood chippings to stand on to gain a bit of extra height, the spectacular of the show wasn’t lost.
Madge stayed true to her chameleon ways in her outfits – dressing as a cheerleader, in black leather, underwear, and in not much at all. Her musical versatility also shone through – a pared down version of Like A Virgin was almost unrecognisable from the 80s pop favourite. Like A Prayer in its original incarnation and complete with gospel backing singers drew the biggest surge of love and enthusiasm from the fans.
Seeing Madonna live is definitely a big fat tick off my bucket list, my only regret is that Into the Groove didn’t make onto the set list. I’m sure she could have squeezed it in, after all if anyone could’ve got away with breaking the 10.30pm sound cut off it’s the 53-year-old legendary first lady of music.