Live: Madonna Brings Her Set Pieces, Sex Pieces, And Masterpieces To Yankee Stadium
Madonna w/ Avicii
Thursday, September 6
Better than: The VMAs.
If ever you need a concise summary of Madonna's year, the billing for her New York dates will do nicely. There's Madonna, her name in no way styled to resemble that of a party drug. And there's Avicii, a Swedish stadium-dance wunderkind riding a mad-money trend of the same. They knew each other before, that sort of special connection that's only forged by stage-bantering about ecstasy and producing hand-waving freakoutery the blogs over. Madge ether pretended to deny or actually, earnestly denied all knowledge of a drug she namedropped in bleary MDNA track "I'm Addicted." Various DJs called her on her shit, then re-dredged the shit from all the '90s morality campaigns. Deadmau5 got involved, as part of his year of omnidirectional trolling. Nobody involved looked good, but Madonna had the most to lose. "Is it all over for Madonna?" the Telegraph gasped, hands wrung and headline begging for response, and though the piece was a mess, a strawman battlefield, name-dropping Dylan and Leonard Cohen and girls screaming for One Direction and-and-and the Authenticity Madonna supposedly forsook for unilaterally witless electro, the mostly sneering comments suggest the opinion wasn't unpopular.
But of course it's not over for Madonna; she's one of the biggest touring acts around, enough to pack Yankee Stadium and, later this year, Madison Square Garden. As well. Of course she's making dance music. Madonna's always made dance music, unless we're calling "Into the Groove" onward something else. And she's always jacked trends. "La Isla Bonita" is as authentically Latin as hot Cheetos (no Takis). "Like a Prayer" appropriates more canon gospel than some cults. "Vogue" does the same for house music and voguing; had MDNA been held half a year, it'd probably have a 2012 remake sampling Zebra Katz. The most mortal sins of MDNA, anyway, aren't musical but contextual: witness Madonna's Super Bowl halftime show, her audience addled by a middle finger already implied in the lyrics and her choreo hijacked by typically tiresome LMFAO. By comparison, Avicii is rock canon.
Speaking of Avicii, let's get him over with. Nobody in the stadium gave seven shits about Avicii, let alone his earnestly competent set. It's not his faultwith Madonna, he's an opener of the "just happy to be invited" varietybut his sort of music, titanic dance that shoots subtlety to smithereens, assumes and only works if the audience is euphoric, or partying, or dancing, or even just involved. The dancers I saw, in order: a man bobbing about ironically, waving his ticket printout; two girls half-heartedly Benni Cinkling; Avicii, wilding out at imperceptible distance and gamely acting the future headliner; various dances of the mating variety from two rows up. None of this looks exciting under strobe lights. Nor does texting (which looks fidgety, like the sort of texting you reserve for the guys who've got you hung up) or milling about the stadium (which looks like milling about a stadium) or the traveling sale of $12.50 bottled margaritas (which looks like a sign of the apocalypse.) It was louder, flashier background music, a thumping soundtrack for distraction. EDennnh.
No, the people were here to see Madonna. They reserved their dancing and awe for her alonefor the queen, as holographic Nicki Minaj mentionedand it shouldn't even need mentioning in 2012 that she knows how to stage a show. More specifically, she staged several: