WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHERE?: London Palladium
We weren’t able to finish this review immediately after Madonna’s last night at the London Palladium on her Madame X theatre tour but have decided in the coronavirus lockdown to return to it and reflect on it.
- Read on for reasons including our thoughts on how Madonna will reinvent the live experience
If a tour happened but hardly anyone was able to photograph or record it, did it really take place? The Madame X Tour took place between September 2019 and March 2020 across 75 shows in 10 locations, including three cities in Europe.
It was notable for its ban on mobile phones which saw them placed in zipped bags which the owner was allowed to keep hold of for the duration of the gig.
Much was made at the time of the physical nature of the show and injury meant 18 gigs were cancelled (almost 20 per cent) including the tour’s opening night in London which we were supposed to attend which was rescheduled to became its last night.
This was Madonna’s 11th tour and London venues we have seen her at include the old Wembley Stadium (Blonde Ambition, 1990), a detour to Paris for the Confessions Tour (2006), the Sticky and Sweet Tour (2008 and 9, new Wembley Stadium and The 02), The MDNA Tour (Hyde Park, 2012) and Rebel Heart Tour (The 02, 2015).
It would be fair to say as we entered 2020 that this was one of the gigs of the year that we were most excited about.
We opened our 2015 tour review of hers with a quote from her: ‘Nobody f*cks with the Queen’ and this defiant spirit is still very much in evidence here.
She was always a magpie and now perhaps the influences feel a little more obvious as we age with her; the ‘X’ from ‘X Factor’ the eye patch from Gabrielle.
We described Madame X the album as her best since 2005 but there’s a little too much of it in the main set for us and we would have preferred to rejoice in some of the pop gems in her treasure troves that she relegates to a greatest hits support set played by her backing band at the start of the show.
Then there are the niggles about the show’s timing. It’s a Sunday night in February and we’re worried about getting public transport home when the 11pm curfew ticks by and it’s clear she’s nowhere near finishing.
Earlier in this Palladium run she accused the venue of dropping its show curtain on her at the curfew (see video above) and, childishly referring to it as the ‘iron curtain’, it doesn’t happen tonight although frustratingly it goes on so late we opt to leave before the show’s close.
The performance is remarkable if a little stiff. She’s clearly struggling with injury although it remains an energetic show whose completion would be an impressive feat for a person of any age.
Fame hasn’t dimmed her opinions. She’s no fan of Brexit, Boris or Trump and, although coronavirus ultimately cut this ambitious tour short, it was a brave attempt to do something different that paid off.
Will and how will she tour again? There’s no doubt that if anyone can reinvent the Madonna live experience it is the Queen herself.