Reviews

Madonna Live at the London Palladium

Why did you wait so long?

I’m being quizzed at the bar at the London Palladium by a stranger just prior to Madonna’s Madame X show. I have just admitted that the last time I saw Madonna play live was in 1987, for her Who’s That Girl tour and this woman (with VIP lanyard around her neck) is wondering why.

It’s a fair question, I’ve been a big fan of Madonna since more or less the beginning, but she has never been the kind of artist that I’ve felt compelled to see ‘play’ live. She’s so massive that she fills enormous stadiums and arenas and that’s just not my idea of fun live experience. I think of all that standing around in a field (actually Leeds’ Roundhay Park) when I was 17, waiting for Madonna, must have really put me off. When she came on she was speck in the distance. An iconic speck – looking like she looks in the Papa Don’t Preach video –  but a speck just the same. I recall thinking at the time ‘I’m never doing this again’ and with the odd exception (hello David Bowie in Milton Keynes, in 1991) I haven’t.

But when it was announced last year that Madonna would be playing the London Palladium, a venue which has comfy seats, a bar and toilets which don’t involve blue chemicals and fresh air gusting around your nether regions, I was in! And it’s TINY for an artist of Madonna’s stature.

In a weird sort of a way, Madonna’s new show reminded me of seeing Kate Bush in 2014. Kate hadn’t played a full show live for 35 years at that point, and as described above I hadn’t seen Madonna play for 33 years. The tickets for both shows were incredibly expensive (although Madonna ‘won’ that battle), both were very theatrical and both artists shunned the hits. Kate played nothing from her first four albums, but opted for a ‘let’s-get-them-out-of-the-way’ strategy by playing ‘Running Up That Hill’, ‘Hounds of Love’ et al, at the beginning of her Before The Dawn show while Madonna sprinkled a few throughout her show. But even so, Madonna played close to nothing from her first eight studio albums. I certainly wasn’t expecting a greatest hits set, but it was truly astonishing quite how few hits she played. If you dig into the stats, she’s had 61 top ten UK hits and played just four of them at the show I was at, ignoring completely ten number ones! WTF, as the kids say on their phones.

And yet… it was a wonderful evening, built largely around Madonna’s new album Madame X. That may sound like a contradiction in terms, but you underestimate Madonna at your peril. This really was A SHOW. The lighting, stage design and theatrics were incredible and I regularly counted 25 people on stage at any one time including dancers and musicians. AND this was the London Palladium. Madonna was all but touching distance away and every now and again after a big set piece, the curtain would come down and Madonna would come forward sit in the spotlight at the very edge of the stage and banter with the crowd. She gave Westminster Council both barrels after they curtailed the previous night’s show, before taking a polaroid of herself and selling it to a guy in the front row for a charitable donation.

Kate’s interactions with the audience back in 2014 were a limited to a few ‘thank you’s, whereas Madge replaced good old English restraint with a “fuck-you-I’m-Madonna” attitude. At one point she complained (with good humour) about being distracted by someone opening and closing a curtain at the back of the theatre under the exit sign (“shut that fucking door”). There was another moment when she sang some of Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Sound of Silence’ sitting, legs dangling, on the edge of the stage to an (off-stage) acoustic guitar accompaniment. For a second, the guitar seemed to slightly get ahead of Madonna’s vocal pacing  and she wasn’t impressed, warning – mid-song – the musician in question, with a knowing “don’t rush me” .

I have a sneaking admiration for Madonna not growing old gracefully – I don’t want Madonna-lite, I want the real thing. The other difference was Kate made great efforts to be part of a collective, ‘The KT Fellowship’, which was quite cool although slightly ridiculous. During those few months of media and fanbase frenzy I never heard anyone say “did you manage to get tickets to see the KT Fellowship”. With Madonna’s concert, despite the enormous number of people on stage, there was never any doubt it was all about her.

The show I was at was the so-called ‘short’ version, which meant we missed out on ‘Express Yourself’ and ‘Human Nature’ which was unfortunate, but after the ‘manifesto’ (a quote from writer James Baldwin about how “artists are here to disturb the peace”) the show still started with an amazing rendition of ‘Vogue’ with a ludicrously complicated noir-like set-piece with staircases and dancers and the like. Madonna is now 61, so it was no real surprise to see here moving a bit more slowly and other dancers would regularly hold her hand as she stepped down from tables, stairs and the like. ‘Vogue’ was followed immediately by ‘I Don’t Search I Find’ from the new album, which makes total sense since that song is probably the closest to ‘classic’ Madonna on Madame X as you are going to get – it definitely has that early nineties Erotica-type vibe.

The middle section of the show was really a deep dig into the new album. Madonna had changed outfits and with black fringed wig sang ‘Batuka’, her call-and-response collaboration with the all-women Orquestra Batukadeiras. This was a good example of the stage performance and presence of the players really becoming an event that elevated the material. Okay, it’s not ‘Into The Groove’ and you might listen to this song at home and think “not sure, that’s a bit weird for Madonna” but live on stage it was mightily impressive.

The evening continued and new songs like ‘Crazy’, ‘Future’, and ‘Killers Who Are Partying’ made me think I really should have listened to the album a bit more. Her commitment to the new material, the lavishness of the stage sets and presentation (the budget was there for all to see) and the amount of moves, cues, lyrics she had to remember was quite astonishing. Kate Bush couldn’t be bothered to take her show outside Hammersmith, but Madonna has never been afraid of hard work and is trekking around the world with a show every bit as complicated (and putting up with criticism for having to cancel some shows and trimming others, in order to be able to physically cope with the demands). Hats off.

The third act was fabulous and gave us the wonderful ‘Frozen’ (with Madonna singing behind a front-projection of her daughter Lourdes doing some impressive dancing and looking uncannily like her mum 40 years ago) and a sensational ‘Like A Prayer’, with choir, which was probably the highlight, because that shot of nostalgia was just pure adrenaline.

But Madonna kept to the script and the encore wasn’t any of her many hits, but the powerful ‘I Rise’ from Madame X. Having slightly given up on Madonna post ‘American Life’, the experience of seeing her perform live at the London Palladium has both reinvigorated my interest in her as an artist and increased my respect for her. I’m also starting to rather like the new album.

Paul Sinclair watched Madonna at the London Palladium on 6 Feb 2020.

ACT I
Madame X Manifesto
Vogue
I Don’t Search I Find
American Life

ACT II
Coffin
Batuka
Fado Pechincha
Killers Who Are Partying
Crazy
La Isla Bonita
Medellín
The Sound of Silence
Extreme Occident

ACT III
Rescue Me
Frozen
Come Alive
Future
Like a Prayer

ENCORE
I Rise

63 responses to Madonna Live at the London Palladium

  1. Mathew Lauren says:

    Yep, I’m with you — but beyond not being keen on watching a speck sing in the distance, I need an assigned seat, preferably a bar and proper p!ssers, as well!

    For e.g., when SW has come to town in the last 5 years, although he’s accessible, it’s been listed as a G/A (standing only) show at the venues he’s played. Shame. I’d have liked to hear and have seen his LIVE Quad presentations of “Hand…” and “…Bone.” I’m hoping that will change when he comes to L.A. this time ‘round.

  2. Shannon says:

    With so much hate in the world…and a lot of it towards one of my favorite artists for most of my life, Madonna…thank you so much for this wonderful post, Paul! I was fortunate enough to see her on the “Madame X” tour in Miami…and I was in awe the entire time of just how incredible the entire production was. I am sorry you got turned off to her after the stadium tour years ago…but welcome back to enjoying our queen! Loved your review of the show…it made me relive part of it in my mind. Much appreciated!

  3. Alan Mitchell says:

    I remember the first times i saw Prince. He did the hits. He said it was a hits tour. But the aftershows were definitely not hits. In fact few were even his songs. It was amazing.

    From that point when i saw Prince i really didn’t want a greatest hits show. And that’s what i got. Sort of. The songs so reworked or extended that on occasion the resemblance was almost in name only.

    There’s two type of gigs i guess. The first when you want to hear the songs you remember, the second where you want to hear music. For me at least :)

  4. Ken says:

    I bet Madonna get herself injured because she ignored all the advice her advisors gave her about pushing yourself too hard like some 20yr old when you are over 60.She is notorious for always pursuing her own agenda and never listening to anyone else.It was apparently her ruthless me-first/I know best policy that broke up her marriage to Guy Ritchie! So it would not surprise me if her doctor told her to alter the physical elements in her current tour set or she’ll injure herself and she just said ‘no thanks,I aint changing anything because I know best!’So thanks to her stubbornness she has probably created some unpleasant mobility injury that will now bother her for many years!

  5. Robbo says:

    I went to the same show in London that Paul has reviewed here. I’ve seen Madonna many times over the years (The Virgin Tour, Who’s That Girl, Blonde Ambition, Drowned World, Re-invention, Music club gig at Brixton, Confessions and Rebel Heart) in venues from clubs to arenas and football stadiums.

    It was great to see her in a lovely, small theatre and the overall quality of the production was superb. I was disappointed to see the short version of the show which cut out Human Nature and Express Yourself since there was a big lack of hits. I understand that she’s injured so would rather have seen the short show than nothing at all. I feel sorry for the fans that bought tickets to shows she cancelled. She should have rescheduled them for a later date (even if after the run of these current dates) and reimagined the show with less intense choreography like Cher does nowadays. I had among the cheapest seats (at £140 each in the second balcony three rows from the top of the theatre) because they were so incredibly expensive (top price over £550 each which is probably cheaper than what they were in the US). I would have liked the show more if she’d done a handful of other songs spanning her career (ie. Borderline, Into the Groove, Live to Tell, Beautiful Stranger, What it Feels Like for a Girl, Take a Bow) and cut some of the more mediocre songs from Madame X. Somebody said in this thread that you should have known what you were getting when you got the tickets, but it was not clear how few hits she would do when the tour went on sale. On the Rebel Heart tour she did a dozen hits or strong deep cuts from her catalogue. We didn’t even get half that number on this tour.

    What I think is incredibly rude is that she started the show over two hours late in so many cities (luckily not on the night I went). If you want to go on stage at 11pm, that’s fine but just put that time on the damn ticket and have some respect for your fans or pay a good support act to play for an hour before your set. I think she should treat her fans better, and she can afford to pay a good support act who could use the exposure. There were many elements to this show I loved but I’ll wait to see the set list first on subsequent tours before paying those prices to hear the new (and typically substandard) album live in full. Hopefully there will be a Netflix or Amazon special so the fans that didn’t get tickets or for the ones who had tickets to cancelled shows will be able to see it.

  6. Shane says:

    Literally nobody is saying that the cancellations are due to poor sales. She injured herself badly and has had to csncel s lot of dates.

  7. william says:

    Heard that she’s not selling out concerts as she used to and that was why she was cancelling some of the tour dates. The fact that she was showing up late probably didn’t help either. Wasn’t really liking the new album with it being heavily auto-tuned. But I would like to see her in concert, even if it is a small venue.

    • Michael says:

      No this is not true. Listened to a podcast this morning from someone who was at one of the London shows with very good seats. Madonna is injured wincing & in pain when she performs. That’s the reason for the cancellations.

      She said the crowd is over 2000 people & it’s a great show & the audience is loving it.

  8. Kauwgompie says:

    I saw Madonna a few years ago during her MDMA tour. She hides her vocal limitations well and the show is just incredible. Every time you think it is about to get boring, she changes things up and next a whole army of musicians or dancers are hanging from the ceiling. She knows how to give a show like no one else. It was superb.
    I do wish she would show a little more class as it relates to getting old, like Sophia Loren or so. It’s her life and she can obviously do what she wants but I was looking for her to be a bit more subtle. Still be Madonna but a little more age appropriate class.

  9. memoryboy says:

    I LOVE this review!
    I’ve never seen Madonna live before. But I’ve been a fan since 1984 (when Like A Virgin came out) and I became an obsessed fan when the Vogue video was all over MTV, and the ‘Immaculate Collection’ was released. That’s when I first got really in to her. I still own the ‘Sex’ book.

    This review makes me want to see her live so bad. And I immediately put on her new album to have a listen. I’ll admit I love the new album, but after playing it non-stop for weeks I stopped, so it was good to play it again. It really is an excellent album. So much going on on the mix. It’s hard to pick a favorite track for me, but ‘Crave’ is a stand-out and one of her best singles she ever released.

    I wasn’t a big fan of the ‘Hard Candy’ album, but loved ‘Give It To Me’ and a few other tracks on there. But I really have enjoyed a number of her albums over the past twenty years.
    Music
    American Life
    Confessions On A Dancefloor
    MDNA
    Rebel Heart

    Loved all this albums. And anything before ‘Music’ (2000) except I wasn’t a huge fan of ‘Bedtime Stories’.

    I can only imagine what an amazing show this was. And in such a small venue? WOW!

    They don’t call her the “Queen Of Pop” for nothing. I have always been in awe of her. She inspires me with everything she does. I never thought she had the best singing voice, she is a true artist, she has the whole package, and not everyone is gifted with that talent, to be able to deliver on all ends of the spectrum. Such creativity!

  10. Paul Taylor says:

    The most I’ve ever paid for a ticket recently was £75 (Morrissey in Edinburgh in 2018, subsequently cancelled so I got a refund!)
    In the past two years, for under £40, I have seen (and will see later this year);
    First Aid Kit x 2
    Sparks x 2
    Suede x 2
    Gary Numan
    The National
    Manic Street Preachers
    Echo & The Bunnymen
    The ones costing in excess of that sum were;
    Tears For Fears
    Morrissey (Glasgow 2018)
    Squeeze
    Alice Cooper (Aberdeen)
    Most expensive was £60
    It IS possible for top acts to charge reasonable prices for tickets and obviously make some money from that.
    Regarding rip off merchandise; Alice Cooper was charging £60 for signed copies of the Breadcrumbs EP at his shows (Amazon £7.99 unsigned) and £40 for a signed CD (unsigned under a tenner). That really disappointed me, pure daylight robbery

  11. JPH says:

    I saw it twice here in LA and loved every second of it. Of the complaints of the lack of hits, at that point, I felt comfortable telling anyone if they went into it not knowing what they were getting, that was kind of on them. The setlist was everywhere and all of the reviews remarked on how Madame X heavy it was.

    A lot of people complained that it wasn’t what they were expecting. That’s fair. Artists frequently talk of “touring the new album,” but I feel like that’s what this was in the truest sense of the word. It was a theatrical presentation of Madame X. Opinions of many of my friends were ALL OVER THE PLACE, but there were many who knew little if anything of the album and still very much enjoyed the show and spectacle of it all.

    This show (and the album) felt like Madonna truly wanting to share this new world of music she had discovered and fallen in love with. And I appreciated that aspect of it.

    Bummer you missed Human Nature but Express Yourself was only a verse or so, a cappella (with vocal backing) as I recall. You didn’t miss a lot there.

  12. Robert Lett says:

    Been to see her twice, both times two hours late to the stage. That was it for me, sorry to say. At least in those cases we could pass the time with our phones, which apparently you cannot now? I don’t like the new record either.

  13. Shane says:

    Sorry but when I read such behaviour, being asked why didn’t see her live again after 198 I immediately get reminded that most Madonna fans are die-hard irrational beings, quite bitchy and nasty. The main reason I would never go to a Madonna concert, despite being a huge fan (with a collection to prove it and leave most people…. breathless), is that I find being around such people a total a turn off. The occasional lurking on the worst forum for any pop music fan in the world speaks volumes in the amount of irrational posts, biting remarks and hypocrisy often leaves me speechless and is just an indication of what they are like.

    I think Madonna certainly deserves the right to tour and sing whatever she wants and certainly people have been warned enough about this one to know what to expect with regards to content but the amount of cancellations is out of the ordinary and anyone who would be peeved has the right to and even if they refund you fully (I doubt they refund tickets to travel to the venue!) it will leave as our taste in your mouth. In the end one could say that if you have such trouble keeping the dates you should consider cancelling the whole tour but that would probably too expensive for her.

    I’m a bit surprised that you went to her concert Paul, didn’t think you were such a fan. Did you get the ticket(s) yourself of you received them?

    Speaking of tickets, I seem to read about so many people who went to multiple dates and that to me is just wrong. The number of tickets and dates for this tour are incredibly small so anyone seeking out to go to more than one date sounds incredibly selfish to me, but then again why am I surprised given what I think of her fans?

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I wouldn’t have gone to see her if she’d been playing the O2. It was the intimacy, and the once-in-a-lifetime element that appealed. For what its worth, I bought my tickets. My wife really enjoyed it too.

    • JPH says:

      Shane, re going more than once, not one of the shows was sold out beyond being able to get tickets. I followed ticket sales on Stub Hub closely for many cities. I watched prices plummet for every show as each got closer. By the week my show rolled around, I could have gotten almost the same tickets for $100 less each. It was never a hard ticket to get. A sense of FOMO was generated before they went on sale with the whole lottery thing and the price making them seem more exclusive. Trust me, they were grateful for repeat customers. The ticket price was a blunder IMO. The demand wasn’t quite there.

      Aside from that, Ive never heard of anyone being admonished for going to a show they enjoyed that much multiple times. Odd complaint.

  14. Mick Lynch says:

    Was the woman quizzing you at the bar, a beautiful stranger (lol)

  15. John Pettigrew says:

    One of the best concerts I’ve ever been to was Alison Moyet’s tour of her (new at the time) album, The Minutes. I’d long since thought that her best material was well behind her.

    How wrong was I? The new, unfamiliar songs were electrifying and hypnotic and the sprinkling of familiar hits, although welcome, were more of a distraction.

    The wife and I immediately bought the album, ‘The Minutes’ and it remains one of my all-time favourite albums ever.

    Sheer class.

  16. Craig says:

    Set lists are a complicated thing, especially for “legacy” artists. However, given how the music industry (and how artists get paid) has changed dramatically, I think how they put these sets together really matters.

    In the past, artists made money off album and singles sales, so playing more newer material while touring made sense – most people had the “old stuff” and you wanted them to buy the “new stuff”.

    However, that model has flipped. Artists barely make any money from album and singles sales since most people just stream now and the artists return on that is pathetic. So all the money is in touring and merchandise.

    Take Depeche Mode. On the first leg of the Spirit tour, they played like half the songs from that album – which most fans can’t stand. Meanwhile, there were only a couple of pre-Violator songs. Most of my friends who went (and myself) were disappointed. Again, not expecting a pure greatest hits tour, but for what they charge now, set lists need to skew towards more hits.

    The last U2 tour was the first one I didn’t go to since the first one I did go to (Unforgettable Fire) because the set list was heavy on the last two albums that were not very interesting. Plus, there were no Joshua Tree songs since they had just did that tour.

    I could go on. But basically, if these acts are going to charge $100 and up for tickets, they really need to play the songs the majority of the fans want to hear, not necessarily the ones they want to play. Because eventually, even the most loyal fans will not go.

    Just my 2 cents.

    • Steve says:

      I love the fact U2 and DM and most other artists play songs from their new albums on tours for those albums. That’s why I (and the majority of their fans) go back and see them time and time again.

    • Quante says:

      Good post Craig.

      The cost of tickets in general is going through the roof for established acts, and rather than supporting an artist, it’s more a case of being fleeced by them. That’s a generalisation, but it is an overall trend.

      It’s disappointing seeing an industry doing it’s best to see where the point of elasticity is on price before it is broken, with how much someone is prepared to pay before they decline to attend. It normally gets that greed exceeds what a reasonable profit should be. I’m sure venues, promoters, managers, booking sites are all complicit along with an act in wanting their pound of flesh. It’s no different with the cost of some SDE’s becoming exorbitant.

      Craig’s point of high prices should mean catering to an audience with more hits is interesting. The artist wants your dosh, you want their hits. Conversely I attend many concerts by artists where I’ve never heard any of their music, so any well known songs would be lost on me. They tend to be concerts priced at the lower end of the scale, where I’m happy to see a live act as a decent way to spend an evening. I’ve found some great artists who I’ve then supported by buying cds, records and attending future concerts next time they are in town.

      When did it become good value to see ABC at £100 a ticket? It wasn’t that long ago (2008 – it feels like a few minutes ago) that they performed with Heaven 17 and The Human League on the same bill – The Steel City tour, and I probably paid about £20 for the privilege.

      I laughed when I saw Madonna’s ticket prices for the Palladium. I’m thankful that this was an act I wasn’t bothered about. Along with half the contributors here I also saw Madonna on the Who’s That Girl tour, but at Wembley on an amazing summer’s day. Hitch hiking up to the outskirts of London with my best friend, we got to a bus stop at 11am, which happened to be next to a pub. Hatching a cunning plan, we waited for the bus inside the pub until we got kicked out when it shut at about 3pm. Utterly drunk we made it into London, passing a open top VW Beetle with Madonna hand sprayed on the side of the car. By the time Madonna came on I was going through the hangover phase, but still happy enough to keep on drinking and having fun. We thought it was great to shout ‘We’re Mad On Her’ – the idiocy of youth combined with drink. In those days we’d sleep on Victoria train station after a concert in London, but on this occasion we struck lucky when my friend bumped into some old school friends and we had a night on their floor – a luxury! I value these memories, value music, but also money, and Madonna at several hundred pounds isn’t the pull she once was in the eighties.

      • Gareth Jones says:

        The price of acts that are nowhere near as big as Madonna have been hiked up so much recently. Take Goldfrapp for example. I’ve not seen them for several years, but it was around the £20 mark when I last did. They’re playing Oxford next month at £52. I like them, but not enough to pay that price.

        So, like yourself, I tend to see a lot more lower-priced gigs these days with newer bands. I saw a band from France called Gloria about a year ago in a little Bristol pub which was actually free entry, with a donations bucket. They were brilliant and a couple stood next to me said they were better than some of the gigs they’d been to recently which cost over £25 a ticket! Of course it was half empty because nobody had heard of them, but I’m so glad I took the gamble.

  17. Gareth Jones says:

    I have no issue with an artist touring a new album and not including all their hits. In fact sometimes it’s really welcome. The years that Blur ditched ‘Country House’ from their set lists were a blessing! And when The Divine Comedy released ‘Regeneration’, it would’ve felt very out of place if they’d performed ‘National Express’ on that album’s accompanying tour!

    However, as a casual fan, I guess seeing Madonna do more “deep cuts” than hit singles won’t be for everyone. It’s a hard decision to make though when you have new material to plug and a huge back catalogue of old material. Pet Shop Boys have basically said their new tour is a greatest hits show with maybe only 2 cuts from Hotspot due in their set list. Hardcore fans might want to hear more, casual fans might be relieved. You can’t please all the people all the time!

  18. AdamW says:

    Had great tickets to this tour in a pretty good venue in Boston, where she cancelled ALL of her shows, so I didn’t get to see it. Neither my wife nor I had ever seen her live so we were massively disappointed, though less disappointed than we would have been given the expected 11:00 start time. (My wife was full-on angry about this, given that the original start time when we bought the tickets was a reasonable 8:30, and she was dreading having to go to work the next day after being up until at least 2 AM.)

    It’s one thing to be ambitious, and it sounds like, if nothing else, Madonna is still ambitious. But it’s another thing to schedule a “special” kind of tour (most artists of her magnitude don’t play smaller rooms like this) and then cancel a ridiculous percentage of the shows. My guess is that this opportunity will not come around again in my lifetime, and if it does, I’ll be even less inclined to stay up until 2 AM to see it, spectacular though I’m sure it will be.

    (And before you say, “but she was injured,” she could have rescheduled those dates instead of cancelling them outright. She just completely skipped our city.)

  19. DiscoDave2000 says:

    Saw her in Chicago and echo the majority of Paul’s comments. I do like the new album as well. Thing I liked the most: No Phones! We left all but one of them in the car glove box. Check in/check out was of phones was pretty seamless.
    Thing I liked the least: our show started at ~11:30 and we didn’t get out until ~2:00. We’re all late 40’s/mid 50’s in my party, so unless you are the most diehard fan or chemically enhanced, it was tough to stay awake for a non greatest hits show.
    Overall an enthusiastic thumbs up though.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      This is where the London shows were good, because she couldn’t mess around with Westminster Council who had the strict 11pm curfew. I was at the ‘short’ show and it was underway just before 9pm I think. Technically it was supposed to be an 8.30pm start, but hardly a big deal waiting, when you are in comfy seats, and as someone else said, there’s a great atmosphere and quite a look of friendly banter between fans.

      • SimonH says:

        Worth pointing out that if you are relying on a last train home, that 30 mins can be pretty crucial. I travel to London from Bristol for gigs occasionally and it’s always a risk!
        Imagine if you went to the cinema and the film was half an hour late:)

  20. Ed says:

    To say she didnt do many hits is missing the point, its not a greatest hits show. its a show that celebrates Madam X. Madonna always sprinkles some classics in her shows but unless she ever does a greatest hits show then she will never do a ‘greatest hits show’.
    Ive seen this show once in new york and Im about to see her in Paris. its a truly amazing evening. I would say it will 100% not appeal to the casual ‘greatest hits’ fan. but if your really a fan of Madonna herself, this show will leave you breathless!

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I think how many of their hits an artist does at a show is always a pertinent point. Madonna’s career is one BIG greatest hits, so all but ignoring her entire career is hardly a footnote!

  21. Alan Jones says:

    I was at Roundhay Park too and remember Hue & Cry as support and have been a fan since. This is going slightly off topic Paul but please bare with me. I had the opportunity to ask Pat & Greg about that day, as a couple of years ago my mate won a competition for them to play live in his front room. I brought along the review from NME of the gig and they were both complimentary about her. It was a surreal experience. Can you imagine Pat Kane tucking into a M&S sandwich in the kitchen and in the next breath asking you what you’d like on the setlist. There were only seven of us in the “audience” and they played seven songs with Greg on keyboards all set up by Rab the roadie, including The Man With A Child In His Eyes. They were happy to hang around and answer questions and sign everything (and there was a lot between us). Then we waved them on their way wondering if that had just really happened. In fact the same mate accompanied me to Madonna at Cardiff Arms Park where we we lucky to get in quick to to the first come first served golden circle.

  22. Richard Cosgrove says:

    We were lucky enough to be in the stalls at the BAM on opening night in New York and the show was absolutely magical. The lack of phones was refreshing, and meant that despite the fact that she didn’t come on until gone 11pm the audience was actually talking to each other, the atmospere electric and like no other gig I’ve been to (and I’ve been to a LOT over the years).

    The Madame X album really came alive in such an intimate venue, and the whole thing felt like one of the most lavish muscials either Boradway or the West End could muster. We did pay an obscene amount of money for the priviledge, but having only seen her in arenas – I saw her previously at Earl’s Court on the Drowned World tour and the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy on the Re-Invention tour, and my partner Lisa had seen her from a seat about half a mile from the stage at Wembley Stadium on the Sticky & Sweet yout – to be so close on what I suspect will be her last global trek (I see a residency or two in her future, but nothing like this again) was worth every penny (or cent in this case).

    We did have tickets for one of cancelled London shows as well, but in retrospect I suspect nothing would have topped the experience of being in Brooklyn on opening night, so we weren’t too upset to get a full refund (including booking fees, which was a nice surprise).

    Glad you enjoyed it, Paul. we certainly did!

    • Joey says:

      We were at that opening night too. I didn’t like much of the album when I heard it but that show brought Madame X alive! I saw her twice at BAM – opening night in the left orchestra and the following Sunday in the front row venter seats (my husband is a life-long fan). To be that close to her was worth the price itself. Then she walked right in front of him and sang a verse of I Rise – LOOKING RIGHT AT HIM – and he touched her arm and said “i love you”. Those initiate moments where she gave herself to life-long fans was astonishing and lovely. The lack of phones kept everyone in the moment and harkened back to when you went to concerts and struck up conversations with your row mates. This proved to me that someone of her stature can put on the show that she wants to do and still excite her audience.

  23. Peter Muscutt says:

    Love the comments about Madonna “slowing down” as age catches up with her…On a similar note, I remember seeing The Who in the Isle of Man around 2004, and for the encore Roger Daltrey came on with a mug of tea (I think he does that a lot nowadays). I half expected Townshend to – rather than destroy his instrument – perhaps gently polish his guitar and pop it lovingly into a case at the end! (Great concert though…)

  24. Michael says:

    I’m glad it was a good show. I saw both the Girlie Show (great) & Rebel Heart show (poor with the exception of ‘Like A Prayer’) this show looked worth seeing. As far the Madame X album goes I did buy it. Listened it to about a week. And never since. Her music unfortunately -with a few exceptions – unlike her contemporaries Prince or George Michael has not aged well.

  25. Michael McA says:

    Her best album since Ray of Light …….

    • DiscoDave2000 says:

      I rather thought Music was a highlight of her 2000’s output. I do like the latest album though as well.

  26. DAF says:

    Having seen the show in Brooklyn, thought it worth mentioning that Express Yourself wasn’t a full production number. Instead, it was a brief a capella round of the chorus. Unless she changed that later on in the tour, you’re not missing much by it being dropped.

  27. Tony walton says:

    I saw Madonna in 1987 at roundhay park in Leeds great gig she’s definitely a talent….the thing that sticks in my mind is it took me and my mate 2 hours to get out of the car park after the gig…..

  28. Giles Roditi says:

    We originally had tickets for the first of the cancelled nights, managed to get transferred to Saturday 15th February and got to see the whole 4 act show. Sorry that some such as Paul missed Act1 but easy to see why she cannot do the whole thing every night. I thought she was incredible. Although I have been buying Madonna since the first album on vinyl all those years ago I am ashamed that I underestimated her and actually never went to see her until Rebel Heart in Glasgow in 2015 when luckily had effectively front row seats next to runway – amazing concert. Now realise I have missed so much, agree with others that the more recent albums since Ray of Light actually eclipse the early stuff.
    Enjoyed the small band going out beforehand when most weren’t seated and doing acoustic Portuguese-type version of old hits – pretty cool. No-one seems to mention this, not sure if it happened every night ? The Madame X staging, choreography and musicianship was excellent throughout – great sound too. The fact no-one had their ‘phones available was actually really refreshing and there was so much going on on stage that having a ‘phone would have distracted me. Jack White did this at a gig I went to and made professionally shot pictures available to the audience to download post gig as mementos, that would be my only suggestion to Madonna for improving the show experience. I really hope some recordings are made available in the future. Would go again in a heartbeat – an icon.

  29. Urs says:

    I once bought a ticket for a show in Cologne, Germany, which was about 100 euros back then, iirc, a huge amout of money for me back then. Unfortunately the show was cancelled and I had a really hard time getting my money back from the concert service (which went bankrupt over this Madonna tour desaster, I seem to remember). Never managed to see her afterwards, as concerts were mostly far away from where I lived and/or way too expensive for my taste.

    What you’re writing about your evening with Madonna sounds very interesting! I think I would definitely prefer that over one of the huge stadium tours no matter if she plays the biggest hits or not. Still haven’t listened to Madame X but I’m definitely going to do so now.

    Thanks for your review, Paul! And of course for the rest of SDE! :-)

  30. Paul Sharman says:

    I went last Saturday and loved it. I got to see the full show, it’s a shame that you didnt get to see it.

    Btw, if you’re a Madonna fan why did you comment when Madame X came out that you wouldn’t be writing about the album?

  31. John in Manhattan says:

    At the beginning of this tour, some tickets were reduced in price day of and I saw the show at Brooklyn’s BAM for an unbelievable $126.00 USD/£97 GBP; first row center mezzanine! Spectacular. I agree with all your points. My favorite moment was FROZEN. I was shocked when I shed a tear at how beautifully presented it was.

  32. Poptones says:

    As I never saw her live and it was advertised as a “small” venues tour, I was also tempted to buy a ticket but quickly gave up after seeing the prices.

    It’s a shame because I really like the set list.

  33. Eric says:

    I dread to think how much a ticket for this cost. She played near me on the “Confessions” tour & I was interested, until I saw the ticket price – nearly a 100 quid over 10 years ago & that’s before you factor in what Ticketbastard.com would charge you! I’ve seen ticket prices for the pit area of the Stones ” No Filter” part 34 forthcoming American tour & you’re talking nearly a thousand Dollars!! . 2 Hour gig or City break? That’s the question I ask myself!!

  34. John McCann says:

    When she talks theas days,does she still sound like a English rose or has she dropped that nonsense and reverted back to her native tongue,?

  35. John says:

    For me, personally, things have never been the same since Like A Prayer really. Theres been the odd highlight since …Vogue, Justify My Love, Frozen, Dont Tell Me, Hung Up (mainly thanks to the ABBA sample). After that though I’ve completely lost interest in her. That said, if by some miracle they issued SDE for her albums up to Like A Prayer I’d snap them up in a heartbeat.

  36. Dan says:

    Paul, I’m really glad you got to see the show and you enjoyed it, and it’s really nice to hear you’re coming around to the album and starting to enjoy it, I did feel the album got unfairly judged last year because of its initial quirkiness. As you’ve said the album is a grower and I’d definitely agree it’s her most adventurous work in a long time, like, she was as truly inspired for this album.
    I saw the opening night of the Palladium and I was so overwhelmed by just how magical it all was, I’ve been to her last 3 tours and this was definitely my favourite as it felt so intimate and personal. Frozen was my highlight, it was so emotional and beautiful.

  37. Tim says:

    I saw her on Feb 9th. Her behaviour is unacceptable. She had played the night before so I knew going in she would play the short set which is 20% less which put me in a negative mood to begin with. She came on after 9.00 for a 8.30 start, why? It was a Sunday so fewer trains and it was the first weekend of storms, people have to get home. She starts so late she always over runs and acts like her rights are being taken from her in a dictatorship, she was behaving like a toddler who does not like their bed time.
    She clearly cannot dance with her injuries at the moment, what she did do was tentative and I felt a distraction. Why not just sing and dance when possible, give the main choreography to her superb dancers. Then there would be no canceled shows no 80% shows and happier people.
    I have been going to gigs for 40 yrs and can be too picky but I thought the show was spectacular based mainly on her best album for a long time and would have been very happy without all the rubbish.
    The ticket prices were absolutely insane and contribute to a overall problem in music and theatre where the major stars get too much and everybody else lives off the dregs.

  38. HS says:

    I saw three of the London shows (two full length and one shorter).
    She was incredible every time and I must say that of the many concerts I have seen through the years with different artists, the Madame X tour is up there with the best shows I have ever seen live. I had not seen her live since The Confessions Tour, which was absolutely incredible in every way.

    I also love how she always focuses on her most recent material and how she refuses to be what the general public seems to want her be (growing old “gracefully” for example).

    Madonna’s latest album (as well as Rebel Heart) may not be for the masses but both are excellent albums that require several listens. Madame X was my favorite album released last year and I still play it several times a week.

    I´m really looking forward to the DVD/BR release of the tour, so I will be able the relive this amazing concert.

  39. Carlos says:

    I forgot to say that unfortunately she’s had several physical problems so that’s the reason she’s had to cancel shows and shorten some of them. I do think that she should make it clear which shows are the shorter versions in case someone wants a refund. Also, this might be a sign for Madonna that she might have to stop doing concerts that are so physically demanding (we all refuse to accept that time has its effects), but she’s Madonna and might be have trouble coming to terms with it.

    • Gisabun says:

      @Carlos:
      “…several physical problems…” Yes those steroids she take are starting to create havoc with her body.

  40. John Bobo Bollenberg says:

    hard to believe a young Madonna lived in a tiny village in Belgium called Deerlijk and was then a dancer for Patrick “Born to be alive” Hernandez

  41. Carlos says:

    Her Madame X album is a grower, there are some very good songs in it, and others not so much so this makes it hard to connect for many people, especially for the variety of song styles, not mentioning that some songs have style changes in them (God Control, Dark Ballet). A song I really like and recommend is “Crazy”.

  42. Nick Vernon says:

    Great review, life long fan myself, really love the album, her best since Confessions.

  43. Derek says:

    Confessions Tour is one of my all time favourite shows, shame she followed it my least favourite show of all time (Wembley 2008)

    At least I got to see her do Vogue and Like a Prayer in 2012. The extreme ticket prices, starting late and not liking her albums post Confessions ( knowing she favours new over old) means I skip her tours nowadays.

    Having endured Human Nature live a few times I’d be delighted she dropped it from the set list

  44. Mark Goring says:

    Shame you didn’t get into the Confessions era, nor that tour. So joyous.

  45. jp Sanders says:

    Great review Paul. I have thoroughly enjoyed all Madonna tours from “Who’s that girl” and she really cannot be faulted for commitment to new material. I enjoy this, I know others differ in opinion.

    If the show has made you think again about Madame X then I would totally recommend checking out the post “American Life” albums. “Confessions” in particular is a classic, but all have top songs to recommend them – my top choices would be :-

    Confessions – Forbidden Love
    Hard Candy – Miles Away
    MDNA – Turn up the radio or Love Spent (sorry cannot separate them!)
    Rebel Heart – Inside Out

    Shes still got it.
    Keep up the good work Paul – really enjoy SDE

  46. Jon says:

    It’s a shame she dropped the first act for this concert. “God Control” and “Dark Ballet” are the best songs from her new album. Dropping “Human Nature” and “Express Yourself” is sacrilegious LOL.

  47. Shawn C. says:

    I saw Madonna for the first time on both the “Confessions” and “Rebel Heart” tours and was absolutely blown away. I’ve been a fan since the beginning, but just never got around to seeing her. In my opinion, “Confessions on. Dance Floor” was a vastly superior album to “Madame X,” which I find pretty dreadful, TBH. As a result, she had some great tunes from her new album to include on that tour, in addition to the classics. “Get Together,” Sorry,” “Hung Up” and “Jump,” were just fantastic. Especially “Jump” – 17,000 fans jumping at once – really something!

    I get what you’re saying about the live show elevating the material from “Madame X.” I was not particularly impressed initially by the “Rebel Heart” album, but after seeing her perform the title track, “Body Shop,” and “Heartbreak City” live I gained a new appreciation for the album, which I now find to have some great tunes.

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