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New York City press reports/reviews (continued)


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New York City Press: Next

Posted: 16 July 2006 - Thanks to Steve

Madonna is on the cover of the new issue of New York City magazine Next (14 July edition) in a celebration of Madonna's return to Madison Square Garden this week.


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Guest Danny86
Erotica album, her only full-length masterpiece

What review can be taken serious with a statement like that? :confused:

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New York Sun

Over the 'Borderline'

By PIA CATTON - Staff Reporter of the Sun

July 17, 2006

Geopolitics being what they are today, Madonna might want to reconsider one element of her "Confessions Tour," which returns to Madison Square Garden tomorrow for two nights. Midway through the show - which is otherwise excellent, even inspiring - a montage of images of world leaders is displayed above the stage. There's President Bush, President Ahmadinejad, Secretary of State Rice, Kim Jong Il, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, Fidel Castro, and everyone's favorite punching bag, Vice President Cheney.

The montage makes Madonna's worldview quite clear: The only difference between a Republican and a dictator is a mustache. Right, they're all the same. This jolting moment of moral equivalency is topped only by Madonna giving the president of the United States the middle finger. It's all a big dollop of juvenile thinking in the middle of a highly sophisticated show.

Of course, it's understood that politics and pop stars don't mix. But it's especially frustrating when you consider how broad and diverse Madonna's audience is. Walk past the Garden when her show lets out, and you'll be hard-pressed to guess who was onstage. The crowd looks like any random sidewalk scene in Manhattan. The Material Girl's appeal cuts across all demographics: age, race, sex, sexuality, economic status - and fashion sense, too. Why then does she assume that 15,000 diverse individuals all think in lockstep with her politics?

Well, she's Madonna. She truly - literally- can do whatever she wants. Unlike, say, the Dixie Chicks, this is an artist who doesn't have to worry about alienating fans; this tour has been selling out around the world. But if you happen to be a fan who disagrees with her, you can only sigh and watch the show. Pop stars will always get the last word. They're the ones with the microphones, after all. They live to thumb their noses at authority and enjoy a state of perpetual adolescence, even if their fans are of every age.

This was certainly the case on the night I saw the show earlier this month. To my right was a woman in her late 60s, and to my left was a 16-year-old girl whose mother was seated next to her. I'm not sure we all enjoyed the show equally. The grand dame complained about the loudness, and the teenager was taking cell-phone photos (and sending them) the whole time. But Madonna's magnetism drew us all there equally. Whether it's her music, her enviably fit body, or her decades-long triumph of the will, she pulls you in. And once you're there, you take what she gives you, both insipid politics and a dazzling, exhilarating show.

Much has been written about two of this show's dramatic entrances. To open, Madonna arrives via a disco ball that descends from the Garden's ceiling. Later, she ascends, Christ-like, on a mirrored cross (while singing). Both were fun to watch, but the best element of the show was neither controversial nor effects-driven. It was pure dance - and sheer joy to watch.

To the strains of a mash-up called "Music Inferno," Madonna - sporting a white three-piece suit - strutted across a multicolored dance floor. Once there, she drove the crowd wild with an homage to "Saturday Night Fever." She did all the dance moves - the famous ones, the corny ones, and the ones you completely forgot about. She looked like she was having so much fun that later I bought a copy of "Saturday Night Fever," watched all the dance scenes, and, yes, tried to do the moves myself. (Watch out, world.)

After the disco portion, she stripped down to a pair of white leggings and a purple and white-striped, off the shoulder shirt that was pitch perfect '80s. To hits including "Erotica" and "Lucky Star," she continued to sing and dance in a way that captured her true showmanship. Madonna is a performer who knows her strengths and weaknesses. At 47, she has the endurance of a professional athlete and the flexibility of a yogi, but by the end of this high-energy show, a modest level of fatigue was setting in. To accommodate this - and to keep the crowd's energy going - she went back to the vault again. This time, she pulled up the pyramid dance formation that was especially popular in '80s videos. (Think "Thriller" with Michael Jackson at the center and all his ghouls in a triangle behind him.)

Madonna gave this classic setup a disco flair, and it was a deft production move. In a pyramid formation, the dancers are packed tightly together, so the moves can't be big or flashy; the steps are based on weight shifts, low kicks, sexy poses, and little gestures or arm movements. What makes it a hit is that the dancers are moving in unison - led by the star - and traveling forward.

By this point in the show, Madonna and her backup dancers had been sweating it out onstage for nearly three hours. This choreography allowed them to deliver a huge impact with minimal (relative to the rest of the show) effort. It's so simple, it's practically vaudeville: How 'bout a little song and dance?

Not so for the rest of the show, which was much more complex. Video played a major role: One film showed a series of riders falling off horses (as Madonna did a while ago); another showed several stallions cavorting in giant holes on the beach; yet another told stories of three children in crisis, set to the song "Live To Tell." Equestrian garb, which includes handy, multi-use items like bits, reins, and crops, held sway over the opening of the show. The costuming and choreography created the feeling that the dancers are all both master and beast; Madonna sat on a saddle affixed to a man's back, but then they all pranced offstage together in a herd. All alone later, she sang "Like a Virgin" while riding a black, carousel-type horse (with a convenient pole) that went around in a circle.

The balance of new and old songs was equitable. "La Isla Bonita" was played in a way that made me wonder why I've skipped it all these years. "Hung Up" closed the show on a peppy note. For "I Love New York," Madonna played the guitar, which has earned her a fair amount of criticism.

Guitar may not be her strong suit, but the fact that she added a new instrument to her repertoire is illustrative of who she is: an artist who has continued to evolve. Love her guitar licks or hate them, at least she's making music - not talking politics.

July 18 and 19 (Madison Square Garden, 212-307-7171).

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"...Erotica album, her only full-length masterpiece..."

TRUTH. For the reasons stated in the article and then MORE :erotica:

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NY Metro

This week Madonna, bearing cross, hits the Garden for a return engagement. We asked concertgoers at the first set of New York shows what they thought of her dancing, singing, Christian-baiting, and S&M equestrian ensembles.

By Emma Rosenblum


(Photo: Eric McNatt)

From left:

I thought it was so interesting how she found a way to hump almost every object on the stage, including a fake horse.

Noreen Okarter, 22, legal assistant

The worst part was that the concert just stopped. No encore, and she didn’t even come back onstage! And oh, God, it was hot in there. My white pants stuck to me, it was so hot.

Nicole Branciforte, 30, consultant


From left:

When I was young, my parents bought me one of her CDs. Listening to it, I realized that I might be gay. Thanks, parents!

Kevin Paul, 30, attorney

She had the whole disco–John Travolta thing going on, but she made it fresh, so it wasn’t like plagiarism or anything.

Voon chew, 32, administrative assistant

People think Madonna on the cross is anti-Christ, anti-Jesus, blah, blah. But she has a reason for doing everything that she does. She’s saying Jesus died on the cross for us, but look at us now.

Melissa Ducheny, 22, bartender


From left:

She put a bad taste in everyone’s mouths when she insulted George Bush. I want her to realize that people are out there fighting for democracy!

Josh Burmei, 33, real estate

Madonna’s body is ridiculous. But she should have more break dancing on her next album.

Ricardo otero, 20, break-dancer

The electric guitar was a little retarded. But I loved her outfits. It was, like, WWD right there onstage.

Christina Caruso, 28, accessory designer


From left:

She never sounded better, so she must be doing something right— I wouldn’t be opposed to studying a little Kabbalah myself.

Jeff Clarke, 34, photographer

I liked how there seemed to be all these subliminal messages aimed at the audience, though I’m not sure what they were exactly.

Esther Kogan, 17, student

Madonna is like a savior to the world, so it makes sense to put her on the cross. I love you, Madonna!

Derek Chow, 32, engineer

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Fans risk burning up for Madonna

Madonna was hot last night, but her audience was roasting.

The sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden sweated out the performance when the Material Girl demanded the air conditioning be turned down because of her sensitive vocal cords. On one of the hottest days of the year, the venue was a toasty 85 degrees at the start of the concert and a blistering 90 by the end, a Daily News reporter armed with a thermometer found.

"It's suffocating," said Stephanie Krukovsky, 22, of Toms River, N.J., who was fanning herself in the steamy upper deck. "I'm just disappointed that the air conditioner is not on. But it's only one night."

Some fans aware of Madonna's anti-AC demands brought electric hand fans to try to keep cool.

"It's really, really bad," said Olga Byrne, 64, of Staten Island. "It's so hot, but it's worth it."

Michael Saul


ABSOLUTE NONSENSE! It wasn't 90 degrees inside (July 18 show). It was nearly 100 degrees in NY this day -- of course the a.c. was definitely on at this show! It was well ventilated and cool-ish inside. I did sweat at the show, but that was because I was dancing/jumping so much and the crowd was bunched up tight on the floor. At the earlier NY shows (most especially the 1st one), I was sweating much, much more and my clothes were DRENCHED in sweat -- the a.c. back then was at a much milder setting or off.

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She put a bad taste in everyone’s mouths when she insulted George Bush. I want her to realize that people are out there fighting for democracy!

Josh Burmei, 33, real estate

Fighting for democracy? I think I am going to throw up........ right here right now. :vomit:

Madonna’s body is ridiculous. But she should have more break dancing on her next album.

Ricardo otero, 20, break-dancer

Ridiculous? Hopefully he meant that as a compliment. Weird nonetheless!


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Touched for the very first time

I've waited 22 years to see Madonna live in concert. But would seeing the Material Girl, lithe and gyrating at 47, make me feel like an old fogy?

By Rebecca Traister

The question I was asked Wednesday by more than one person was: Is it too late to see Madonna?

They were asking me this because, at the last minute, my friend Sara had found tickets to Madge's final stop at Madison Square Garden on her "Confessions on a Dance Floor" tour. I couldn't afford a Madonna ticket and I told Sara this and she said she would buy it and I would pay it off via a kind of social layaway plan. She also said, in a bracing way: "Look, I have never seen her. You have never seen her. And I don't want us to see her when she's 65 and it's too late, you know?" Yes, I said solemnly. I know.

I understand that there are a lot of people out there who have never seen Madonna and who don't consider it a missed opportunity. But I am a 31-year-old American woman. I was 9 when I watched a ratty-looking woman pleasure herself on a Venetian gondola while a panting lion looked on in the "Like a Virgin" video and my father, glancing at the television, asked, "Who is that?" I am sure that my father, who has barely glanced at a television since, has no memory of this. But I remember. Because while I didn't understand the first thing about who she was or what she was doing to that poor lion, I knew she was fascinating. And because my mother -- who also never glances at the television and has never been able to remember anyone's name, including mine -- stunned us all by informing him, "That's Madonna."

The conclusion to which I stumbled by following the logic of that exchange turned out to be coincidentally accurate: If my mother knew who Madonna was, then she was the most famous woman in the world. Twenty-two years later, she is, at 47, the most famous woman in the world -- at least the world I grew up in. Even without having been a truly devout Madonna fan (too young to be a wannabe, I was a wannabe wannabe), I managed to own every one of her albums back when people owned albums. Even songs I think I don't know the lyrics to -- like "Music," or "Ray of Light," or "Take a Bow"? -- I know the lyrics to. Madonna has been the soundtrack to my life.

So I agreed with Sara that this was a pretty momentous event and besides, we had a hot ticket. They all sold out in four minutes or something and this was the kind of concert the cool kids went to, and weren't we hip to be going at all. In short, I felt the way I probably should have felt at 15 if I'd scored tickets to the "Blond Ambition" tour.

Which became abundantly clear when I happened to mention to my mother that I was going to see Madonna. "My goodness!" she chuckled. "That's really some old-fashioned entertainment." That's right. My mother -- the 62-year-old woman who still occasionally asks me what ever happened to "that young rock 'n' roll guy, Billy Joel," which she still pronounces Billy Joe-Elle despite having been corrected 1,000 times, that mother -- was teasing me about being an old fogy because I was going to see Madonna.

Then my brother called. He's been calling a lot recently because he has a 6-week-old son and chatting with a 6-week-old gets boring fast, which makes chatting with your sister a lot more appealing. I told him I was going to Madonna. "Well, you're showing up a little late to that party, aren't you?" he said. I should mention that my brother is 28 and cannot drive a car so I don't know where he gets off making fun of me. "No, I'm sure it'll be great," he said. "Like if Yente from 'Fiddler on the Roof' got her own show for two hours." Then my brother underscored just how doddering we both are (as if the 'Fiddler' reference weren't enough) by consulting with his 6-week-old son as we spoke. "Do you think Madonna is still relevant to your generation, Noah?" he asked. "Do you think that the Material Girl still has the power to put asses in the seats?" I heard Noah burp loudly before hanging up.

Here is the thing: Because I have never actually been to a Madonna concert, and because going is something I considered doing at 9 and 13 and 25, it is not something that makes me feel old at all. In fact, it makes me feel rather spry! Then again, here's another thing: I go to Bruce Springsteen concerts. All the time. As a matter of fact, I have seen Bruce Springsteen four times in the past three months. And what's more, some friends just yesterday proposed that we fly to Dublin to see him play in November and to my immense surprise I said that seemed like a good idea, even though I have never been the kind of person who thinks that flying anywhere to see someone perform is a good idea, let alone if you have seen that person perform four times in the past year, let alone if that person is in his late 50s and you are completely aware that your devotion to him sort of dates you.

Also, in the past year, I have paid money to see Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton and Prince. For the record, I have also seen Feist and Neko Case, though we left Neko Case early because it was standing only and sort of hot. And I thought about seeing Cat Power, but didn't.

But in any case, what I am saying is that I am not one of those people who goes to shows by Modest Mouse or the Libertines. I feel comfortable admitting that my musical tastes are creaky.

But I somehow felt bad about the perception that Madonna is a creaky act. Maybe because it makes me feel old. Maybe because my radar was so off that I thought it was cool I was going to a Madonna concert when really it was fogyish. Maybe, because seeing Madonna was something I'd wanted to do since I was 9, I got momentarily tricked into thinking I was 9 again.

Anyway, I went. And I think it's a good thing I didn't see Madonna when I was younger, because I might not have been old enough to handle it. There have been a lot of reviews of the concert -- which I assume never varies, since who could do anything spontaneous when you have 14 tightly choreographed backup dancers in chaps? -- but here is a rundown of what happened:

Madonna hatched out of a disco-ball egg that opened like a multifaceted DeLorean; there were pulsing lights and reflecting surfaces; it looked like 12 disco emporia had vomited simultaneously all over the Garden stage. A team of shirtless, musclebound dancers clippety-clopped around in plumed riding hats; gymnasts did some impressive tumbling and jumping on uneven bars, and a woman in electric blue Middle Eastern-ish gear convulsed in a cage. There was crumping. (OK, the truth is, I thought it was break-dancing but when I read Kelefa Sanneh's review of the concert in the Times, he said it was crumping.) At one point, Madonna donned a white Travolta suit and danced like Tony Manero on a lighted-up tiled floor; at another, she invited the audience to "suck George Bush's dick." Images flashed: of dead dolphins and tigers and falling horses. Of Bush, Dick Cheney, Nazis, scud missiles, Klansmen, red blood cells. There was a roller-skating segment straight out of "Starlight Express." It was the Folies Bergères, it was Bianca Jagger at Studio 54; it was the Moulin Rouge -- if all those things were viewed at a distance, as if they were being broadcast when they were actually live.

After Madonna sang "I have a tale to tell," the first line of "Live to Tell," there were performance-arty monologues about falling, or being a gang-banger, acted out on jutting portions of stage by people who were not Madonna. In fact, there was a lot in the show by people who were not Madonna. Several minutes would go by in which Madonna was nowhere onstage but six people in loincloths were climbing jungle gyms or a guy in a turban was blowing a ram's horn and then all of a sudden Madonna -- well-rested and in a new costume -- would get lowered from a helicopter or shot from a cannon, or do what she actually did on Wednesday night, which was appear to sing "Live to Tell" hanging from a disco-ball cross dressed in a peasant blouse, a sequined belt and a crown of thorns.

You probably saw the pictures of Madonna on this cross when the tour started. I remember shaking my head in admiration; this woman's commitment to creating new ways to dismay the public is simply unrivaled. The trouble is, she's made her own job so much harder. Whether she herself trained us not to flinch in the face of manipulated sexual and religious iconography or whether she has simply ridden the larger cultural shock wave past its crest, I'm not sure what her future as a provocateur could possibly hold. The self-crucifixion thing was a good try, but ... eh. She may have to hang on until the day when, in a retirement gesture that will make Streisand cry in her tsimmes, she can disembowel herself onstage.

Anyway, back to the concert: After Madge came off the cross, she launched into "Sorry." The man in front of me -- and believe me, he was practically the only man in front of me; everyone at this concert was female -- started convulsing, face in his hands, Beatlemania-style. Then she stripped into a tank top and began singing, for real (which you could tell because her voice was out of breath, as it should be), and ground her hips into a chair. Madonna humped everything that stood still long enough for her to wrap her legs around it. At one point -- and I do not think this particular disco egg is worth cracking open here and now -- she rode a black man like a horse.

The concert was not at all like watching two hours of Yente from "Fiddler on the Roof," unless updated productions of "Fiddler" have included scenes in which Yente whips a bare-chested Tevye with a riding crop and yells at the audience, "That's right, you motherfuckers, I love New York!" Which, I suppose, is possible. I never saw the version with Madonna's friend Rosie O'Donnell.

In 2004, Sanneh wrote about Madonna's Re-Invention tour that, "When you imagine Madonna, you don't see a single image but a time-lapse photograph, with one persona melting and warping into the next." It's a great line, and a great description of what I felt last night, watching Madonna live, for the first time in my life. When I look at her, it's hard not to imagine decades -- of her life, and of my life -- written on her body. That body. Her legs aren't even traditionally shapely anymore: Their muscles are serpentine and distinct; she's an anatomical enterprise as much as an aesthetic or athletic or musical one. I wonder if Madonna made that body so strong because she has to lug so much of her own baggage around on it every day.

Watching that body -- not a ligament, let alone a strand of hair, out of place -- it's hard not to think of the soft, ragged young woman who was content to hump a stage in a wedding dress back in 1984. I looked for that younger woman at Madison Square Garden. It was she, after all, who made this older woman -- this freak of pop culture -- possible. But if it was easy to recall younger iterations of the performer, it was tough to actually spot them onstage on Wednesday night. And I think that's how she wants it right now.

Madonna played almost all of her new album and only a handful of her classic songs; she seemed to be stamping her feet to convey that she is no nostalgia act. But in drawing such a severe line between her older and her younger selves, in successfully insisting that she's no fogy, she actually made me feel like more of one.

It was in her grand finale, "Hung Up," the best part of the night -- that it felt like a concert at all. She let her hair down, literally and figuratively, and when she threw her leotarded bod around the stage, rubbing herself against a giant boom box, there was the first, and only, glimmer of authentic eroticism. It was then, for the first time, that she appeared to let herself get taken in by her own music, to lose just a shred of control. And for a second, she looked so young -- like that girl in the New York clubs with her stupid leggings and torn gloves -- and she seemed to notice at last that she had a flesh-and-blood audience and berated us, in her old S/M way, to sing along. "Time goes by -- so slowly/ Time goes by -- so slowly/ Time goes by -- so slowly." The crowd rose 20 feet in the air on adrenaline alone. And still she kept holding the microphone out: "Time goes by -- so slowly."

And that was when I, or my 9-year-old self, got way overstimulated. Hearing words about time going by so slowly while staring at Madonna's preserved, warped body; considering all the long-forgotten cultural references on display -- whatever happened to Tony Manero anyway? I was confused about why I was enjoying "Hung Up" more than "Like a Virgin," about why so much of the concert, especially the familiar songs, had seemed so distant but that this new song had brought her alive. And my brain began to expand and contract in sync with the pulsing lights and the rhythmic chanting -- "Time goes by -- so slowly" -- and all I could think was that time goes by so quickly. And that sometimes, like tonight, it can fold in on itself, and remind us of how far away we are from our old selves, our old bodies, our old memories even as we experience things that bring the past to mind. And how this woman, who has been in my consciousness my whole life, seems to be trying to stop time -- by singing about it and making her body impervious to it and making her career about the present not the past. And then I came close to doing the most old-fogy thing I can imagine: crying at a concert. And just then she finally broke the trance with a final euphoric verse: "Every little thing that you say or do/ I'm hung up/ I'm so hung up on you."

"That was a great fucking song," Sara said to me, breathlessly. We walked downstairs, out onto the street, talking about the show. And then, as we exited Madison Square Garden, she turned to me. "You know what?" she said. "Maybe we saw her too late."

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:thumbsup: That was a cool article, thanks for sharing SLYGUY. By the way, I hope you don't mind but I used your pic in my signature now--it's such a great shot, defiant, strong and beautiful! I also used someone else's in my avatar but I don't know who the author is of that photo!


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No problem. Use any Madonna pic of mine you like for whatever at anytime. I don't mind any fan using them for sigs or whatever. I never slap watermarks on my pics because I want fans to have them and use them however they please.

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No problem. Use any Madonna pic of mine you like for whatever at anytime. I don't mind any fan using them for sigs or whatever. I never slap watermarks on my pics because I want fans to have them and use them however they please.

Cool, thanks and like I've said a millions times already...you take the BEST FRIGGIN' PICS 'cause you pay for the best seats in the house!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ottawa Sun

Everyone's a critic, except me

Sun, July 30, 2006


Madonna: So, she insisted on having the air conditioning off in blistering heat for her shows at New York City's Madison Square Gardens last week, to preserve her vocal cords, apparently. And she demands a brand-new toilet seat wrapped in plastic at each venue, and that it be disposed of immediately so no one can sell it on eBay. And she doesn't do encores, no matter how much people scream for them. Who cares. When you love her, you love her. I scored a scalper ticket to one of those Madison Square Garden shows and if it was too hot for my first Madonna experience, I didn't notice. If I was too old to be that excited by a musical act, I didn't care. If I had to go to the washroom (and I did) I didn't, so as not to miss a second. Say what you want about her, as I stood there on the floor, surrounded by buff, hairless, tank top-wearing, crazy-dancing queens, watching Mrs-been-around-since-I-crimped-my-hair as she was elevated singing Live To Tell from a large disco-themed cross, those were tears of pure joy falling from my eyes.

I'm just glad I didn't have to review her concert.

For me, right then, just like now, there would have been nothing to criticize.

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