Madonna live @ Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam -
Ladies and gentlemen, I live with a Madonna fanatic. My wife is and always has been a huge fan of the queen of pop so even though Madge isn't necessarily my go-to artist, I have grown to appreciate some of her music over the years. That said, were it not for my wife's life-long adoration, I almost certainly would not have gone to see her in concert and certainly wouldn't have travelled to another country to see her (although even with flights and a hotel it was still cheaper than one ticket to a London show, but that's another story). My advice is that if you want to see someone you love really happy, really in their element, then take them so to see their favourite artist and preferably, as in this case, for the first time. It will add a whole new dimension to the experience.
Now, before we get on to the show (and show is the word), I want to make a little point about my first non-UK live music experience because it was excellent. Queuing was rapid (thankfully, because it was ruddy freezing), the e-tickets all worked and there wasn't a tout to be seen or heard. Once inside the Ziggo Dome, the food and drink options were plentiful and reasonably priced and the venue itself was designed in such a way that you could see the stage pretty well from wherever you stood (unless a tall person came along and stood in front of you, no country has cracked that one yet). So, bravo to the Dutch, they nailed that one and having a good venue is half the battle.
The other half of the battle, of course, is filling that venue with an absolute superstar and they don't come much bigger than Madonna. Despite a 90 minute wait between the end of the support DJ set and Madonna arriving on stage, the energy in the crowd was electric as so many people had come to watch their idol, their hero or their inspiration and, when the flamboyant Bob the Drag Queen came on looking like Marie Antoinette, he summed up the mood in his introduction saying "some of you have waited 40 years for this moment".
What followed was nothing short of a masterclass from an artist who was not only been at the centre of the music world for decades but has been at the vanguard of various movements, genres and styles. As you might expect, the show took us through Madonna's life from young, hungry star on the rise in New York to world straddling icon via her experiences as a mother, an advocate for AIDS sufferers, movie star, sex symbol and fierce defender of the gay community - as she said, however, the most scandalous thing she's done is simply to stick around.
Musically, we were treated to early hits like 'Everybody', 'Holiday', a grungy version of 'Burning Up' and 'Open Your Heart' with dancers skipping across the stage in era appropriate attire with some impressive set and backdrop design. Once in to her stride, there was a string of classics including 'Vogue', 'Erotica', 'Justify My Love' and a slightly truncated version of 'Crazy For You'. Personal musical highlights for me were a pumped up version of 'Ray of Light' featuring Madonna dressed as a human glitter ball as she dangled above the crowd in a box and a darkly Catholic looking performance of 'Die Another Day'.
The thing is, as much as this was about the music, it was also about the statements (this is Madonna, after all) which were made in a number of brilliantly creative ways. Joined on stage by some of her children to perform various songs, an emotional version of 'Mother and Father' followed a touching rendition of 'Live To Tell' during which the faces of many of those lost to AIDS were projected behind the stage. The concert itself took place on World AIDS day so Madonna stopped the 'show' to give the crowd a history lesson of what it was like to live through the AIDS tragedy as well as bit of a verbal slap to not take being alive and being able to be openly gay for granted.
The show climaxed with all dancers dressed in one of Madonna's iconic looks while the one-and-only-OG stalked the stage lapping up the adoration to a to a chorus of "L.U.V. Madonna, Y.O.U. Madonna". There were moments when you could see the fatigue of a gruelling tour schedule on a performer who is 65 after all but the show was constructed in such a way that the energy levels stayed up even if she was having a costume change. It was one hell of a show and there were a thousands of dreams coming true all around me which is what pop music is all about so mission accomplished I reckon.
Madonna - https://www.facebook.com/madonna
Ziggo Dome - https://www.facebook.com/ziggodome