LIVE REVIEW: Madonna, NIA (Birmingham), 20/07/2012

In the eyes of the press Madonna is the devil’s spawn. Having dominated the headlines since the mid 80s it seems that the press have a message which they want her to receive loud and clear – MOVE ON! However, as the sold out NIA proves, Madonna still boasts a dedicated following who hang on her every word and are unwilling to write her off as past it. In amongst them am I, a Madonna latecomer. Not old enough to remember Madonna in her ‘hey-day’, I really discovered Madonna circa “Ray Of Light” and only then fell in love with her diverse back catalogue. With her latest release “MDNA” proving her least accomplished to date, if the reviews are the be believed, the excited audience anticipate how Madonna will structure the evening’s setlist.

As the hungry fans await The Queen of Reinvention, they are treated to the worst opening act ever witnessed. There is no denying that Swedish DJ Alesso is able to mix, but his lack of presence, unimaginative song selection and sheer nonchalance ensure that barely a shoulder is shrugged during his everlasting 45 minute set. Unimpressed many of the crowd opt for the bar, giving the NIA a distinctly empty feel.

Disappointed as Madonna’s choice of support, an unease sets through the patient punters, who opt for an inevitable Mexican Wave as they await the Queen of Pop. In true Madonna style, the set starts 45 minutes late, but as the impressive set is unveiled, a chant of Madonna results in euphoria as Madonna launches into recent single “Girl Gone Wild”, accompanied by sensational choreography, that immediately proves Madonna is far from the fuddy duddy of recent press reports.

Cleverly mixing “MDNA” material with her classic hits, Madonna ticks all the boxes. This is no “Greatest Hits” tour, but fans wanting the classics are far from disappointed. While “One More Chance” is a little shaky, and the over performed, sexually charged ballad version of “Like A Virgin” provide the set lowlight, “Vogue” and “Hung Up”  are performed with clear relish, while “Express Yourself” is fused with Lady Gaga’s copycat track “Born This Way”.

Though the classics provide the clear set highlights, “MDNA” also proves its worth. The Oscar nominated “Masterpiece” is a tender addition to Madonna’s ballads, while the riotous “I Don’t Give A *” prompts chants and applause. Most reminiscent of her sadly overlooked “American Life” phase, “I Don’t Give A *” is an overlooked anthem that warrants celebration. But it is the psychedelic “I’m A Sinner” that easily levels with Madonna’s bigger hits.

With flawless production values, Madonna ensures her audience leave on a high. Stunning set, sensational routines and an energetic star centre stage, Madonna effortlessly silences the critics and wows those that really matter-the fans. Madonna may not be as young as she once was, but who can name one young upstart who can deliver live vocals, dance moves and sheer entertainment in Madonna’s league?

Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jeremy Williams

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