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Madonna – Ullevi Stadium, Gothenburg, 2009-08-08

2009-08-10

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First off I would like to point out that although I do like Madonna, I don’t sit at home listening to her albums. Rock music is what gets me going. But of course I appreciate her music, she’s obviously written some great pop songs over the years. The only time I’ve really actively listened to Madonna, was when the Ray of Light album came out; an album that still sounds fresh to me. Anyway, my wife loves Madonna and we thought we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see her, especially since it’s been 19 years since the last time she played in Sweden. And with Michael Jackson’s untimely passing she’s really the last great entertainer from the eighties still standing, with Prince having outmaneuvered himself into obscurity with one weird album after the other.

We had Gold Circle tickets for the concert which meant that we could show up 20 minutes before showtime and still get in to the pit. What a perfect arrangement! At eight o’clock sharp DJ Paul Oakenfold took the stage, and treated us to an hour of current and classic dance hits. Nice to hear an unpretentious DJ who’s actually willing to play stuff that people recognize as opposed to obscure club remixes. Towards the end of his set he played the latest Madonna single, Celebration, and two of her dancers came out to help warm up the crowd.

After about a 45 minute break where the stage crew fixed one of the video screens, it was finally time for Madonna to take the stage. The first song was Candy Shop from her latest album. Four video screens arranged as a cube on the stage split apart and the back screen revolved to reveal Madonna sitting on a throne. It was definitely a cool experience to see such a pop icon in the flesh, but the first couple of songs were kind of lost on us, since we spent some time finding a good place to stand. Why is everyone so fucking tall in Sweden?!? Anyway, we eventually found a good spot against the fence about 20 meters from the main stage. But this was the perfect place to stand, because there was a catwalk in the middle of the pit that went out to a smaller stage where Madonna spent a lot of time, so we got to see her up close quite a lot.

As a measure of the extravagance that is the Sticky & Sweet Tour, for Beat Goes On, Madonna and her dancers actually roll out on the catwalk in a white Rolls Royce. I really enjoyed Human Nature, and thought it was really cool that she had Britney Spears in the video playing on the screens. The song ended with Spears saying “It’s Britney, bitch!”.

A pleasant surprise was how many of her classic hits Madonna is playing on this tour. Vogue and Get Into the Groove were great fun, with the latter one starting with Madonna jumping rope, and even doing some Double Dutch – she can’t possibly be fifty years old! By the way, I must say that Madonna looked really good. I’ve found her to look quite worn in pictures and videos during the past couple of years, but Saturday night she did not look a day over forty to me. For Holiday, Madonna incorporated a Michael Jackson medley, where one of her dancers appeared dressed as the King of Pop, complete with his trademark moves, moonwalk and all. This was a huge success with the otherwise quite lame audience.

Being the rock guy that I am, my favorite moment was when Madonna strapped on a Les Paul and strummed the main riff to My Sharona before launching in to a guitar driven version of Dress You Up. I guess it can be debated how much guitar Madonna actually plays, but her band sure is great and the song sounded awesome in this heavy rendition. I wish she would have done New York as well, cause I really like the guitar version of that one from the Confessions DVD.

For She’s Not Me, Madonna was surrounded by four dancers, all dressed like Madonna from different periods of her career. The song ended with Madonna kissing the Like a Virgin version of herself.

In terms of slow songs, the highlight was probably Devil Wouldn’t Recognize You from the latest album. Madonna performed the entire song atop a rotating piano on the b-stage from behind a circular video screen. The song is penned by Justin Timberlake, and in fact, it shares quite a few similarities with his 2002 song Cry Me a River.

Unlike what many reviewers in Sweden has written, I quite enjoyed when Madonna brought out a gypsy band to play La Isla Bonita with her. I thought it added a nice touch. Sure, maybe it’s unnecessary to have the band sing a song on their own, while Madonna basically just claps along to the beat, but I do realize the reason for this: Madonna needs to rest her voice, and this way she stays up on stage while doing it. Speaking of her voice, it sounded great! I remember her voice not being quite up to par on the Drowned World Tour DVD, but now it’s as good as it has ever been.

During 4 Minutes, four 6 foot video screens were rolled out on stage on which Justin Timberlake appeared in a life-size video. This was very cool, cause it really looked like he was actually there stepping out of the screens. I was very happy to hear Like a Prayer, which was performed in an updated dance version. Frozen was a pleasant surprise, probably my favorite Madonna song.

My favorite part of the concert were the last five songs, especially the two closing numbers, Ray of Light, and Give it 2 Me. I was basically jumping up and down the entire time, just enjoying the moment. For both songs, lasers projected out from the stage above the audience. Madonna donned the guitar once more for Ray of Light, which I think adds a really nice touch to the song. For Give it 2 Me, Madonna and the dancers all wore sequined gloves on the right hand, commemorating Michael Jackson. And with that the concert ended, clocking in at around 1 hour and 50 minutes.

The Madonna concert was everything I expected it to be, and it was fun to see such a different show from what I’m used to. I was surprised that there was no encore, she could have done Express Yourself and Hung Up to close out the show. But I guess dancing for two hours really wears you out. Once again I have to complain about the audience. I don’t understand how you can buy a ticket for the Gold Circle, and then just stand there completely emotionless for 2 hours. Was it not good? Do you think you could have done a better job? The guy in front of us kept rolling his eyes and stood with his arms folded the entire concert. I now understand why some bands don’t come to Sweden, the audiences here suck, period. Let’s hope Madonna doesn’t get too discouraged by this and includes us on her next tour, so we don’t have to wait another 19 years.

Setlist:

Start: 21:47

1. Candy Shop
2. Beat Goes On
3. Human Nature
4. Vogue
5. Get Into The Groove
6. Holiday w/ Celebration snippet & MJ Medley
7. Dress You Up
8. She’s Not Me
9. Music
10. Devil Wouldn’t Recognize You
11. Spanish Lesson
12. Miles Away
13. La Isla Bonita
14. Doli Doli
15. You Must Love Me
16. 4 Minutes
17. Like A Prayer
18. Frozen
19. Ray of Light
20. Give it 2 Me

End: 23:40

Pictures (Click on an image to enlarge it)
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Videos:

Ray of Light

Give it 2 Me

2 Responses to “Madonna – Ullevi Stadium, Gothenburg, 2009-08-08”

  1. Ghulam H says:

    Lovely Choice, Madonna’s music is heart touching music.

  2. Zedonius999 says:

    great,madonnais the queen of pop and i a agree with Ghulam H that madonna’s music is heart touching music
    (take a look at my blog http://rockmusicbands.wordpress.com/)

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