March 19, 2016
Clickbait is a disease.
A virus spreading from self-professed arbiters of taste under the veneer of information.
According to the narrative of the latest headlines pertaining to Madonna’s Australian performances, M has become a “self-degrading alcoholic clown” because of an experimental, improvised and vulnerable one-off, free performance in an intimate setting for her fan club members in Melbourne.
Banal, mercenary, low-hanging headlines lacking context and nuances that prove to be, more often than not, simply inaccurate.
Dispensable trivia rooted in the notion that reality is a single path from one point to another without any ambiguity.
Life is kaleidoscopic with no event existing in singularity, yet somehow we exist in a world where the labeling and pigeonholing of the narrow lens of one’s self-created social media feed is used to deflect from consuming more substantial fodder.
The rhetorical device of verbal and situational irony needs a bit more space than the confines of sensationalist headlines aimed at generating online advertising revenue at the expense of accuracy will allow.
References to the aforementioned fabricated “controversies” were made en masse when Madonna held court in Sydney, which marked the last stop of her globe-spanning Rebel Heart world tour:
A more two and a half hour long spectacular extravaganza encompassing a 25-song career spanning set list and unparalled visual variety ensued, which seemingly has found inspiration in Chinese New Year celebrations and artistry à la Cirque de Soleil.
Having been notoriously late during previous tours and more recent shows on terra australis, Madonna literally descended among us in a cage of swords as scheduled.
Not lacking the provocative imagery and button pushing performances the brand Madonna has become known for and despite being the perfectionist and disciplinarian she is, M was in a playful mood.
Reveling in the art of being Madonna, her recently trademarked “unapologetic bitchy” attitude and a myriad of costume changes, she commanded the stage, which was a long catwalk with a circular stage in the middle and a heart-shaped stage at the end: A hybrid of a heart, cross and an arrow allowing for ample opportunities for interactions with the audience.
Her crew of 20 dancers performed tightly choreographed themed theatrics - faux medieval executions, mock martial art fighting geishas, scantily clad pole dancing nuns, a S&M inspired orgiastic reenactment of the Last Supper and simulated sex acts embedded in a multimedia mélange of sound and light on a specifically designed kinetic stage, which allowed for acrobatic and scenic moments throughout the show.
Despite the highly engaging and at times borderline overwhelming feast for the senses, the more fragile moments of the show did not lack impact, e.g. when M was solo on stage playing a cover of Edith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose” with a ukulele.
With the seamless transition between staging, choreography, scenic props, performers, live musicians, lighting and video of a show like this it is not difficult to see Madonna has been a permanent fixture in the upper echelon of pop music’s elite over the last 30 years.
Her live performance naturalizes and complements her mediatized persona and is an uncontrived extension of her music videos.
Madonna live is in essence about enjoying oneself and a whole lot of fun.
One of the few remaining “one and only.”
Photos by KAVV