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San Jose - 06 June - Captivating, absurd, always entertaining
Madonna's concert Sunday at San Jose's HP Pavilion landed on the 60th anniversary of D-Day. The military tie-in seemed especially apt four songs into the show, when the star appeared onstage to perform the title track from her latest album, American Life, backed by video screens showing war footage.
This wasn't a chronicle of France's liberation but a darker glimpse at carnage from other, morally ambiguous conflicts: Bombs razed villages; Iraqi and Vietnamese children bled and wailed.
Through it all, a khaki-attired Madonna and a phalanx of dancers dressed as soldiers, nuns, mullahs and priests got into the groove. The crowd cheered obliviously, horrific video images notwithstanding. Note to Madge: When making an anti-war statement, dance beats, star turns and choreographed stage moves distract from the message.
Nobody Knows Me Madonna has always delivered mixed messages, whether flashing pictures of the pope during a song about teen pregnancy (Papa Don't Preach) in her '80s heyday or going on a vigilante vengeance spree in the video for her latter-day single What It Feels Like For A Girl. She makes her statements and lets fans interpret them as they will. That's the essence of her two-decade stardom -- at her best, she manages to be all things to all people.
Her Re-Invention Tour incorporates this melange of personae into a two- hour show that plays like Cliff's Notes to her career, with each new Madonna morphing into the next in a hypnotic jigsaw of sex, lies and videotape. At the first of her three San Jose concerts (there are still floor tickets available for the shows tonight and Wednesday), Madonna was alternately stunning, perplexing and absurd. Most important, she was always entertaining.
The concert highlighted the way in which spiritual iconography has replaced the star's '90s sexploitation, from kabbalah text swirling along to Like A Prayer to screens filled with Catholic religious art during Mother And Father. The night started with a biblical recitation, as Madonna's video image fractured from Whore of Babylon splendor to minimal asceticism. The singer then switched moods, rising from the stage in a glittering bustier and hot pants to recite Vogue against a museum backdrop filled with -- what else -- a series of shifting Madonna portraits. This was the night's first production number, with dancers strutting in 18th century garb while a backup band and two singers held down the musical front.
As this is a "reinvention" tour, Madonna has found various ways to retool her repertoire. Some of the best interpretations were those in which Maddie dispensed with lavish theatrics to play artist: Frozen and Like A Prayer were pared down to musical numbers built around Madonna and her band; Burning Up and Material Girl became singer-songwriter spotlights as Madonna showed off her competent guitar skills.
The larger ensemble songs were hit and miss. Express Yourself, another military-themed presentation ostensibly meant to celebrate individuality over indoctrination, shot itself in the foot when Madonna crooned, "What you need is a big, strong hand/ To lift you to your higher ground" while being elevated on the back of a rifle.
But a DJ breakdown of Music captured a certain club-land euphoria, and the night's final song, a remix of Holiday, was a confetti-strewn tribal love dance that fittingly ended the night at the point where Madonna's career began.
For the night's greatest-hits segment, Madonna changed into a kilt and a "Kabbalists Do It Better" T-shirt and joined a bagpiper (yes, a bagpiper; don't laugh, it worked) to cut loose with Papa Don't Preach and Into The Groove (featuring a video cameo by Missy Elliott). A schmaltzy Crazy For You followed, dedicated to "all my fans in the Bay Area who have stuck with me for the last 20 years."
Just because something's saccharine doesn't mean its sweetness is insincere -- and one of the tour's most discussed and vilified moments, a cover of John Lennon's Imagine, smacked of verisimilitude.
When Madonna announced the song by saying, "I didn't write this next song, but I wish I had, and I hope someday it becomes a reality," she sounded as close to bald honesty as a consummate gadfly can.
And here's the punch line: As a treacly international montage of children flickered across the overhead screens and Madonna ran through Lennon's well- worn paean to peace, the audience finally seemed to get it. No whoops greeted the sight of battered war kids; instead, lighters rose and the crowd sang along. Madonna, it seems, still knows how to work a cultural wave. (source: SF Gate)

San Jose - 06 June - Rich in songs, costumes, attitude
If there ever was a concert in recent memory that came close to being worth $300 for a top-tier face-value ticket, Madonna's Re-Invention Tour show Sunday night at HP Pavilion in San Jose would be it.
The high-energy performance -- visually and aurally -- was everything one would expect from someone of Madonna's legendary stature. In the nearly two-hour show, the Material Girl belted out 23 songs, from her biggest hits - Holiday, Vogue and Papa Don't Preach - to American Life, which is still searching for a spot on her hit-filled résumé.
Nobody Knows Me Madonna, who performs in San Jose again tonight and Wednesday, changed costumes six times, going from soldier in camouflage to a Scottish dancer in a kilt. Conspicuously missing from this show, however, were that famous cone-capped bra and the megahit Like A Virgin.
The crowd, made up mostly of women in their 30s and men who aren't afraid of wearing pink, looked as if they had followed Madonna since her Virgin' years, reciting with ease the choruses to the songs. They wore jeans and T-shirts with individual lettering on them that spelled out "Material Girl" and "Madge" in honor of their idol.
Madonna, 45, commanded the stage, giving a polished and deliberate performance. Every detail was taken into account, from the five huge video screens to the tempo of her songs, which were sometimes slowed down to give her time to breathe.
Singles like Frozen and Nothing Fails were sung at the microphone stand, sometimes with a guitar in hand, while others, like Don't Tell Me and Music, she sang while dancing. Her voice held up nicely for many of the songs, with the exception of the slow-tempo Crazy For You, which started out a little too sharp.
The Kabbalah-following fitness junkie looked physically solid, with her biceps bulging, as usual. Her body rivaled those of her dancers, who probably were decades younger.
But the dancers were an important highlight of the show: From yoga-like stances to break dancing and tap dancing, they displayed incredible versatility. Some doubled as vocal backup, drummers and even as a skateboarder.
And it wouldn't be a Madonna concert if she didn't inject some sexually charged behavior or delve into other controversial topics, like religion. At one point, as she stepped over a dancer as he lay, she paused suggestively, to approving cheers from the crowds. Religious overtones made way throughout the concert, from images of the crucifixion of Christ to T-shirts proclaiming "Kabbalists Do It Better."
As always, nothing was sacred when it comes to Madonna. She didn't stop at just plastering the cross on screen: Dancers frolicked in rabbi robes, and wore burqas that covered their heads and upper bodies but exposed their legs.
Other political statements were woven into the show. Dancers in bondage strapped her to an electric chair while she sang a haunting version of Lament from the musical Evita. And as Madonna covered John Lennon's inspiring Imagine, screens behind her flashed images of sick, starving and impoverished children.
While her video for American Life usually concludes with the image of a chummy President Bush and Saddam Hussein, it ended this time with Israeli and Palestinian boys arm in arm.
The theme on this night was obvious: On her and her dancers' boxer bottoms as they flashed the audience were letters that spelled out P-E-A-C-E.
Despite the tour being named Re-Invention, Madonna's performance seemed more of a well-polished look back at her lengthy career than a re-creation of a pop icon. But that's fine for this diva, who has made a career of confronting topics often banned at the dinner table -- sex and religion among them. And since she did all of that again Sunday night, one can only wonder how she'll address her favorite topics during her next tour. (source: Mercury News)

San Jose - 06 June - Madonna takes charge in S. J. show
Frozen If pop culture was a boyfriend, it would have a serious case of attention-deficit, running after every pretty thing that walked by. But, Madonna has whipped it into shape: teasing it, entrancing it and finally preaching to it. She demonstrated this prowess for a packed crowd Sunday night at the HP Pavilion in San Jose. If there ever was a concert that came close to being worth $300 this would be it. In nearly two hours, Madonna polished through 23 songs, from Material Girl to American Life. In addition, she changed six times, going from a sergeant in camouflage to a Scottish dancer in kilts. (source: Mercury News)

Las Vegas - 29 May - Sitting down, that will not do
Madonna may not possess Mariah's voice, Beyonce's curves or Britney's teen appeal, but all three younger divas could have learned a few tricks from the 45-year-old mother of two Saturday night.
Simply put, Madonna's concert -- the first of her two weekend shows at the MGM Grand Garden Arena -- was the most entertaining large-scale musical production to come through town in months.
The fourth stop on Madonna's 2004 Re-Invention Tour was far more successful than reports out of Los Angeles (site of the first three shows) might have suggested.
Perhaps the headliner had finally shaken a pesky stomach flu that caused her to postpone Tuesday's scheduled performance in L.A.
Vogue Or maybe four nights in, Madonna and her army of musicians, vocalists, dancers and acrobats had grown comfortable with the rigors of the high-energy event, which lasted nearly two hours.
Either way, a sold-out crowd of 14,000 appeared all but unanimous in their approval on Saturday, grinning madly as they exited the arena covered in red and white confetti.
All but a few of the vocalists' eldest fans stayed until the last note of closing number, Holiday. That stood in sharp contrast to recent local appearances by Spears and Beyonce, which had hundreds flocking to the exits early.
Madonna maintained her audience's attention even when she was offstage for four costume changes, as her band continued playing while break dancers, trapezists and even a skateboarder performed.
That live entertainment filled breaks much better than the momentum-sapping video montages utilized by Spears, Beyonce and Cher at their 2004 tour stops in Las Vegas.
Far less sexually provocative than her reputation suggested, Madonna's show instead made its mark with an unsettling blend of political and religious imagery on three giant screens, and two slightly smaller ones, comprising the stage's backdrop.
Some of the visuals proved quite effective. Sad as it was to see a young girl in the crowd bury her head in her father's side as camouflage-clad dancers twirled rifles and explosions sounded during American Life, she's unlikely to forget the song's anti-war message.
And though it may have been a tad heavy-handed, Madonna's cover of John Lennon's Imagine -- complete with footage of dead and wounded children in combat locales -- elicited some of the night's loudest cheers.
Other times, Madonna's themes were too cryptic to have an impact. Hebrew lettering -- a symbol of the singer's devotion to Kabbalism, generally referred to as "Jewish mysticism" -- accompanied several numbers but was left untranslated.µ
A shot of Israeli and Palestinian youths walking together with arms entwined was moving, but a doctored photo of George W. Bush and Saddam Hussein smoking cigars together only seemed to confuse many in the crowd.
And images of Jesus on the cross during Mother And Father seemed depressingly out of place at a concert intended to be festive.
Physically, Madonna appeared quite fit, although she sported a black wrap on her left knee and an Ace bandage on her right forearm. She smiled often as she worked through dance numbers, played electric and acoustic guitars and sang songs from all periods of her 21-year career.
As the tour's moniker indicated, the concert featured reworked versions of several of Madonna's biggest hits. She turned 1992's Deeper And Deeper into a cabaret-style lounge number and 1983's Burning Up into a metallic rocker, while 1984's Into The Groove featured altered lyrics and a recorded cameo by rapper Missy Elliott.
Surprisingly, it was Madonna's newer material that often packed the most punch, however. The thumping techno beats of last year's Nobody Knows Me and 2002's Die Another Day got the crowd moving, while 2000's Music even brought two middle-aged women out of their seats for the only time all night.
The show sagged somewhat during its middle act, as fans sat down during a run of less familiar numbers. Like A Prayer, Madonna's megahit from 1989, signaled a return to form.
"OK, you people sitting down, this will not do," Madonna announced at the start of that song. "I'm spoiled. People do not sit down at my shows."
Vocally, Madonna sounded confident and assured. Though she was almost certainly backed by a taped version of herself at points, she appeared to do most of the actual singing live, as evidenced by a couple of cracks in her voice during 1985's Crazy For You.
That provided a final lesson for Spears and her lip-syncing clones on the scene today: whatever the outcome, a crowd will always respect an honest effort far more than recorded "perfection." (source: Las Vegas Sun)

Las Vegas - 29 May - Look and personality easier to reinvent than songs
Back in 1989, Madonna and the rest of us didn't have a lot of war to worry about, unless you count U.S. efforts to depose Panama's Manuel Noriega. But we didn't let it bother us too much.
But times have changed. Madonna's 1989 hit Express Yourself now must be delivered with camouflage, rifle-twirling and a black beret that's very Che Guevara, albeit still kinda cute.
And so it went with much of Madonna's Re-Invention Tour, a sometimes awkward attempt to combine the flashy, trashy spectacle of the pop goddess's choreographed past with her newfound spirituality and humanitarian awareness. And as the camouflaged dance hit proved, the singer's look and personality are easier to reinvent than the songs themselves.
Vogue Still, the first of two sold-out nights at the MGM Grand on Saturday delivered most everything fans could have asked for from their ridiculously expensive tickets (top price: $382.50). It was edgy, full of visual surprise, loaded with more past hits than her most recent trip through town and even a little personal, if you paid attention to the details.
Photos of dead war civilians, women and children mostly, turned up on the overhead screens a number of times, contrasting with the video-game battle imagery that set the stage for the audacious American Life. As the singer and her dancers marched around a giant V-shaped truss that descended over the floor seats, the spectacle included men in cages, a pregnant nun and George W. Bush and Saddam Hussein looking cozy together on an overhead screen. Nobody ever said the two words in "pop art" always fit together easily.
Yet the complex stagecraft of four moving video screens, carrying imagery to rival the Elton John show at Caesars Palace, also reminded us that Madonna was the first superstar of the MTV video era. The old hits, such as the Vogue opener, were completely synonymous with their videos; any radio play was incidental.
The singer still feels no need to talk to us when pictures will suffice. Bedtime Story even allowed her to leave the stage completely for one of her many costume changes, while her video image sang to three Cirque du Soleil-style trapeze artists. Some people might not have noticed she was absent. Other big production numbers included a skateboarder (Hollywood) and an electric chair (Die Another Day).
Her few asides to the audience were, like her most recent MGM tour stop, reminders that no one was supposed to take a seat. "This will not do. I'm spoiled," she announced. "People don't sit at my shows."
But they do sit down when they're watching television. And if Madonna didn't kill the video to be a bit more exposed to the audience, whose fault was that? The rare quiet moments included a cover of John Lennon's Imagine and a reasonably toned-down Crazy For You delivered from an elevated tower and dedicated to fans "who have stuck with me through thick and thin" (if not Shanghai Surprise or Swept Away).
The 45-year-old mother constantly reminded us that she has more on her mind than sex these days, from the opening buildup of recorded Revelation scripture, to her "Kabbalists do it better" T-shirt or the plug for a Kabbalah organization called Spirituality for Kids (seriously).
Brazenly religious imagery, including Jesus on the cross, accompanied Mother And Father, the evening's heaviest, most challenging tune: "There was a time that I prayed to Jesus Christ/There was a time I had a mother it was nice."
A holiday weekend party crowd was more interested in oldies such as Holiday and Into The Groove, tricked up with current electronica rhythms, confetti cannons, kilts and bagpipes. At the end, the screen flashed one last communiqué, "Reinvent Yourself," before the house lights went up without even the tease of an encore.
Madonna had spoken. At least, in her trust-the-message-if-not-the-messenger kind of way. It was a fitting send-off from a media creation who is gradually becoming more flesh and blood, but who still holds that guitar more than she actually plays it. (source: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Las Vegas - 29/30 May - Madonna leads celeb exodus to Vegas
America's showbiz capital shifted 250 miles east into the desert for the holiday weekend with both Prince and Madonna playing sold out shows in Las Vegas and a host of celebrities taking a break from Hollywood to fritter away their fortunes on gaming tables and overpriced drinks.
In her imperious manner, Madonna scolded her audience, exhorting the crowd at the MGM Grand, some of whom paid more than €300 a seat, to enjoy themselves and saying: “I’m spoiled. No one sits down at my concerts.”
Caras article - click to enlarge Watching Prince at the Mandalay Bay Hotel’s packed concert hall the following night was an altogether more intimate affair and his fans – including Tiger Woods – needed no urging to get up and dance. He was fun, too, another element sorely missing from Madonna’s rather earnest Re-Invention Tour. (source: IOL)

LA - 24 May - Brazilian review
Brazilian fan and loyal Mad-Eyes reader Chris aka Peter Parker has send us a scan of the Brazilian magazine Caras, which reviews the opening show in LA. Click to enlarge.

LA - 24 May - Madonna's clashing identities
Madonna calls her new traveling show the Re-Invention World Tour, and, if anything, the name seems a bit too obvious. (You don't see John Kerry crisscrossing the country on a tour called Lots of Speeches.) For more than two decades she has stayed in the spotlight by shunning it every year or two, retreating to remake herself and then returning anew.
When you imagine Madonna, you don't see a single image but a time-lapse photograph, with one persona melting and warping into the next. It's an open-ended process, and when she's at her brilliant best, it's easy to believe that she could keep reinventing herself forever.
But where do those old selves go? That's what Madonna tried to figure out at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California, last week when she played the first date of a tour that is scheduled to end in Lisbon in mid-September. This was a dense, dizzying, often incoherent, sometimes exhilarating night, starring a great performer who often found herself shadowboxing with her past lives.
Madonna's most recent album, American Life (Warner Brothers/ Maverick), wasn't a big success, so this is in some small sense a comeback tour. Her seemingly happy marriage to Guy Ritchie, her new career writing children's books, her diminishing interest in sexual provocation - all of this may make Madonna happy, but it doesn't keep her fans salivating. So this tour is designed to remind them why they loved her in the first place.
Nobody Knows Me The night began with an ominous recitation from the Book of Revelation, and then Madonna emerged in a sparkly bustier for Vogue, a tribute to New York night life that now sounds more like the soundtrack to an instructional Pilates video. "Strike a pose," Madonna sang, and then she did, supporting herself on her forearms while her booted and stockinged feet kicked the sky.
Madonna's old infatuation with decadence has largely given way to an obsession with physical and mental health: Her Web site,, reports that she requires "25 cases of Kabbalah water provided backstage nightly," and she paid cheerful but earnest tribute to her new favorite spiritual beliefs throughout the show: Near the end she sang Papa Don't Preach while wearing a T-shirt that read "Kabbalists Do It Better."
This meant that she had to find ways to reinterpret some of her older songs. Sometimes she did it gracefully, as when she sang a stripped-down Like A Prayer while Hebrew letters on the screen above her gave way to images of a black gospel chorus. And sometimes she did it clumsily: During Material Girl she made her famous (and complicated) declaration - "'Cause we are living in a material world, and I am a material girl" - and couldn't resist adding, "But not really!"
Madonna's clashing identities collided brilliantly during the dazzling second act, a military dream sequence that evoked a world of panic and confusion. It started with American Life, the electro-pop title track from the album, newly pumped up with a roaring guitar riff. She emerged in fatigues and a beret, backed by a troupe of dancers dressed as soldiers and religious figures, including a cardinal and a woman dressed in a spectacularly self-defeating garment best described as a micro-mini-burka.
By song's end the soldiers had stripped the faithful to their shorts and T-shirts, but the military drills continued, with Madonna as sergeant. There was a spine-tinglingly cynical version of Express Yourself: as she sang, "What you need is a big, strong hand/To lift you to your higher ground," she raised a rifle above her head.
During the concert's exuberant final act, the stage was given over to a bagpiper and a drum corps, and Madonna and her dancers emerged in matching kilts, racing through a handful of old favorite Into The Groove, enhanced with video clips from Missy Elliott; a nostalgic singalong on Crazy For You; a galloping tribal remix of Music. When it was all over a screen covered the stage, emblazoned with the words, "Reinvent Yourself" - advice, perhaps, from one Madonna to another. (source: International Herald Tribune)

LA - 24 May - A new Madonna: the full-on singer
There's a new Madonna on stage, and the transformation is the biggest shock of her big summer Re-Invention Tour. In the first stop, at the Los Angeles Forum on Monday, Madonna cast herself in a role she has never so forcefully tried before in concert: As a full-on singer.
Re-Invention certainly conforms to the music-video-era concert style that Madonna single-handedly pioneered - complete with flashy visual images, detailed choreography and fixed props. But she spends far more time than before simply belting in front of a band, just like an old-fashioned musician. Some lip-synched enhancement did seem to persist. But Madonna tried to sing with a careful new sense of purpose. As ambitions go, it was roughly equivalent to watching Janet Jackson suddenly present herself as a concert pianist at Carnegie Hall. That's more of a jolt than the not-too-Islamic sight of a bare-legged dancer draped in a miniskirt version of a burka. Or the video of George Bush and Saddam Hussein lovingly batting their eyes at each other. Or the moment when Madonna, for some baffling reason, was strapped into an electric chair.
Vogue As it turned out, Madonna's beefed-up vocals were one of the most enjoyable elements in a show that is by turns pretentious, exhilarating, preachy and a blast. Never one to lack force of will, Madonna is trying to accomplish an enormous amount with this event. Re-Invention is a career retrenchment tour. Her last album, the lumbering American Life, was the first commercial bomb of Madonna's 21-year career.
Many fans were also disappointed that her last tour, in 2001, featured few old faves. This time she's giving the people what they want. She features more than a dozen of her biggest smashes in the 24-song set, from Papa Don't Preach to Holiday. It's fantastic to hear these undying hits so well-performed and so inventively staged.
Madonna, 45, is also trying to gain back some of the edge she lost in her recent incarnation as a children's-book-writing, Kabbalah-studying, married mother of two. But to seize the moment again, she relies on one of her least-appealing traits - self-importance.
A major motif of Re-Invention is Madonna's anti-war protest. It's not often presented with what you'd call subtlety. In the creaky song American Life, dancers sternly march around in military fatigues as images of bloodied and terrified Iraqi children flash on the video screens. It ends with the Bush-Hussein image. Later, Madonna performs what has become one of the most cliched anthems of unity - John Lennon's Imagine - in front of images of wounded or angry kids. Even Holiday features a video backdrop of flags from all over, eventually bringing together Palestinian and Israeli symbols. Do we really need Madonna to become Joan Baez? Why isn't she content just to be Cher?
Luckily, the show's self-righteousness doesn't cancel out its more joyous, creative and musical moments. Vogue had the best fashion style, combining French Revolution with Frederick's of Hollywood. Burning Up found Madonna as a rock star, fronting the band with an electric guitar. And the final super-hit section of the show couldn't have offered a more exciting pop punch.
While you might have thought Madonna had run out of cultures to plunder, she has come up with one more for this segment, inspired by husband Guy Ritchie: the Scottish. The whole cast sported full-length kilts, shimmying to hits like Into The Groove and Music.
It was remarkable to hear Madonna singing so powerfully in Like A Prayer, Crazy For You and Deeper And Deeper. If only that payoff didn't come as part of a more general, nagging need to be taken dead seriously. The fact is, Madonna's most convincing message remains the one she offers at the start of her classic Into The Groove - "and you can dance." She's best when she makes it impossible for us not to. (source: NY Daily News)

LA - 24 May - A splashy and stylish retro-fitted show: 4 stars out of 4
She's in vogue. She's in the groove. She's expressing herself. Who's that girl? Who else but Madonna, reinventing her past in a splashy and stylish retro-fitted show (* * * * stars out of four). She's dubbed it the Re-Invention Tour, an unnecessary reminder considering she has been reinventing herself since 1983. Two decades after threatening to rule the world, pop's unstoppable dominatrix stepped on stage Monday night at the Great Western Forum to flaunt her considerable powers in a lavish and strenuous spectacle of song and dance.
It's one of several tours this year by veteran acts, Prince and David Bowie among them, reassessing and reclaiming their hits.
The two-hour career overview arrives amid cynical buzz about ploys to shore up sagging album sales with a quick-buck oldies tour featuring a Kabbalah pulpit.
Nobody Knows Me Nonsense. Aside from Papa Don't Preach, rendered as a saucy romp, and a gorgeous version of Like A Prayer, religious references scattered through the non-stop dance party are arty and mildly provocative. She briefly dons a "Kabbalists do it better" T-shirt and wears the mystic sect's Red String around her left wrist, but otherwise avoids sermonizing, except to wholeheartedly fulfill Kabbalah's mandate to promote a positive flow of energy.
"I'm giving my all," she told the audience. Now there's something you can believe in. The concert is a rigorous, fast-paced escapade with bold sets, brazen choreography and sexy but age-appropriate costumes, plus a bagpiper, a skateboarder, a fire handler and acrobats on swings.
It's cheeky and challenging theater, from the naughty Victorian caper of Vogue and the harrowing drama of Frozen to the breezy Express Yourself, rocking Burning Up and mock combat of American Life, played out on a suspended V-shaped catwalk. And that's only in the first of four elaborate acts.
A carnival section boasts a waggish Hanky Panky from Dick Tracy and the lovely Lament from Evita.
Deeper And Deeper, the only track from Erotica, gets an upbeat treatment before the mood downshifts for Die Another Day, when Madonna is strapped into an electric chair that rises on a platform. (Contrary to rumor, the switch isn't thrown.)
An acoustic set follows, with heartfelt renditions of Don't Tell Me, Like A Prayer and the show's two low points: a momentum-killing rap in Mother And Father and a cover of John Lennon's Imagine, competent but pointless considering the countless gems that could have been culled from her own catalog (Live to Tell, Oh Father, This Used To Be My Playground, Take A Bow).
The show wraps up with a kilt section that retools Into The Groove, Papa Don't Preach, Crazy For You, Music and her time-honored finale, Holiday.
At 45, Madonna is in fine voice, especially on the vintage tunes, where her silky tone may come as a surprise to fans familiar with the early chirp. She dances energetically with grace and funk, plays guitar and, naturally, has the shape and muscle density of a Barbie doll. Madonna's mini-me's (listening, Britney? J-Lo?) have a long way to go before they match her in vocal prowess or multitasking abilities.
Most notably, Madonna seems to be having a jolly good time. Whereas her last outing had technical strengths but lacked warmth, Re-Invention finds Madonna reinvested emotionally. The show doesn't have the degree of flesh, carnal content or shock value that past outings delivered, but this time Madonna is opting for more heart than cleavage and more personality than profanity. And she dances with the bagpiper. You won't get that at a Kabbalah class. (source: USA Today)

LA - 24 May - Her voice never sounded better
After twenty years in the limelight, Madonna is expected to cause controversy and reinvent herself for every new tour. So for the May 24th Los Angeles opening of her Re-Invention world trek, Madonna did the most unexpected thing she could: She came back as a great concert singer.
Even the most diehard Madonna fan will concede that her live performances have almost without exception been plagued by a multitude of missed notes, breathy passages, and, as of late, fake British accents. But while Mariah and Whitney have of been losing the acrobatic vocal dexterity and lung power on which their reputations rest, forty-five-year-old Madonna, whom few have ever taken seriously as a musician, has never sounded better than she did during the first of several gigs in her adopted West Coast home. Whether rocking out with classic black Les Paul in hand during a metallic rendition of her early club hit Burning Up, or performing Like A Prayer behind a screen-projected gospel choir, Madonna belted, and did not once seemed strained. In the midst of a $1 million production festooned with a walkway that jutted out from the stage and over the audience, massive moving video screens, a dozen dancers, a bagpipe player, a stunt skateboarder and a whole lot of emotionally charged anti-war imagery, the focus was nevertheless on Madonna, and how she's matured into a truly great pop singer.
Nobody Knows Me Opening with a yoga-trained twist on her famous Louis XIV-inspired MTV Video Music Awards rendition of Vogue and ending on a kilt-wearing finale of Holiday against a video backdrop of national flags that eventually morphed into one, the show was thematically simpler and more focused than her last several productions.
The barbarism of war and the necessity of love were at the heart of the entire show, and both played off each other, sometimes for ironic and decidedly uneasy effect. The original military-themed video footage of American Life that the singer withheld at the start of the Iraq war was finally unveiled, and then expanded upon during Express Yourself, where Madonna sang her anthem of unbridled, intimate communication in front of dancers dressed as soldiers and goose-stepping with twirling rifles.
By contrast, Madonna closed an extended acoustic section of the show with a straightforward and thoroughly committed rendition of John Lennon's Imagine as images of war and poverty-ravaged children eventually gave way to footage of a Muslim boy and his Israeli counterpart smiling as they walked with their arms wrapped around each other.
The heaviness of much of the imagery was balanced by Madonna's own presence, which seemed remarkably fun-loving and self-assured for the opening night of her most technically complex production. Only when she strapped on an acoustic or electric guitar during several songs and repeatedly glanced at her left hand to make sure it was playing the proper chords did she seem at all nervous. "How many people out there really think that I am the Material Girl?" she asked during a break in her most iconic early smash as she strummed with much deliberation.
For the last several songs, Madonna and her dancers donned black and white kilts, an apparent nod to husband Guy Ritchie's Scottish heritage, and black T-shirts that read "Kabbalists Do It Better," a cheeky reference to both her religious studies and the "Italians Do It Better" T-shirt she wore during her video for Papa Don't Preach, a song that was performed without the "near-naked pregnant women" described in pre-tour reports of the show. In a number dedicated for the "fans that've stood by me for the last twenty years," she sang her earliest hit ballad, Crazy For You, earnestly and without contrivance.
Madonna's continued relevance was impressive, but it was even more striking that she's putting more love and genuine passion into her spectacle than ever. (source: Rolling Stone)

LA - 24 May - Bring back the cone bra
Madonna's blond ambition is fading to bland. That's evident from these exclusive photos of her costumes for the Re-Invention concert tour, which kicked off Monday night in Los Angeles. The name "Re-Invention" promised some new and exciting looks, but there was no mojo in her erratic series of guises. She wore so many kooky looks — from showgirl corsets to combat boots to the inevitable Kabbalah T-shirt — that she apeared to be having an identity crisis. Whatever happened to Madonna, the trend-setting icon?
Hanky Panky Here's a pop star whose entire career was built on distinct fashion phases: from the black fishnets and torn T-shirts of Lucky Star to the white corset and tulle skirt of Like A Virgin and the red gown and white gloves of Material Girl. Just over a decade ago, when the sassy provocateur created a firestorm by displaying her blond ambition in a pointy cone bra, it would have been insane to suggest she would mellow to the point of wearing buttoned-up army fatigues onstage.
Age, religion and motherhood no doubt have had an impact on the 45-year-old mother of two — and those who attended Monday night's concert took note of the changes. "I knew there would be a lot of politics and religion tonight. It's kind of like she's grown up, but she's still hot," said Dee Dee Kennedy, 36, a saleswoman for Ketel One Vodka, who saw Madonna 20 years ago. Instead of a sexy, flashy, fun-filled show, concertgoers Monday night got an endless dose of political and social commentary.
She sat in an electric chair and dances and sang against a backdrop of war images, President Bush and Saddam Hussein. The sound of detonating bombs punctuated the song American Life. Onstage, dancers dressed like soldiers did push-ups and calisthenics as helicopters swept in and infernos blazed on the video screens behind them. And then she sang John Lennon's Imagine, accompanied by a video of sick and injured children from around the world.
There was religion, too — plenty of it. Madonna's passion for fashion has clearly been usurped by her fetish for Kabbalah, as evidencd by the flashes of untranslated Hebrew text displayed in the background of her performance, which hits Madison Square Garden on June 16.
In a review in yesterday's Los Angeles Times, critic Robert Hillburn begged Madonna to "bring back the sex. Or at least something with flesh and blood, please." We just want her to bring back the cone bra. (source: NY Post)

LA - 24 May - I'll feel her sweat!
No wonder Madonna ordered 25 cases of Kabbalah Water blessed and positive energy-charged with Jewish mysticism – for backstage at Monday's opening night of her Re-Invention World Tour. Mid-concert inside the swamplike Great Western Forum, the perspiring peroxided provocateur was strapped into an electric chair by bare-chested male dancers and "zapped" as she sang Lament. In the capacity crowd, Material Girl groupies were gaga, including Madiva, who was really a man named Chris dressed like his icon in full makeup, French baroque corset and lacy bra. The guy sitting in the $300 seat behind the bewigged Madiva could barely see over his foot-high platinum tower of upswept Marie Antoinette curls.
It may have been an "electrifying" moment, but what comeback queen Madonna, 45, is reinventing herself as this time remained an enigma – unless, God help us, a savior of the world. Although she's not known for being an outspoken political activist, a more grown-up, serious Madge belted out some tunes against disturbing video images of the Iraqi war and starving Third World kids.
For American Life, Madonna appeared in Army combat fatigues as "soldier" dancers did push-ups to the sounds of bombs dropping and in front of an oversized video screen displaying firefights and wounded youngsters and troops. Madonna – wife, mother, Kabbalah devotee and children's book author – soon twirled a rifle and marched.
During a rendition of Imagine, photos of children who were malnourished, homeless and in hospitals were put up, as was a picture of John Lennon, which got a huge audience cheer.
Of course, there were lighter antics – Madonna in plaid kilts with bagpipe player and a carnival sequence featuring a fire twirler and skateboarder with red mohawk whooshing up and down a half-pipe ramp.
There was, however, no real raunch. No cone bras, no profanity, no Britney-esque lesbian lip lock.
Adoring fans – some who sported their own cone bras – still stood in long lines at concession stands to snatch up $65 Madonna T-shirts and $55 pill boxes embossed with her photo.
The 55-show much-hyped reinvention tour, which includes stops in Europe, is seen as a way to rev up the aging international superstar's career by looking back at some of her greatest hits. Madonna's most recent CD, American Life, released in spring 2003, sold less than an underwhelming 700,000 copies. And she stunk up the movie screen last year by appearing in husband Guy Ritchie's flop, Swept Away.
Nobody Knows Me Over her 20-year career, the shrewd Madonna has courted controversy with her music and reigned as a diva of image redo. Her cross-burning video Like A Prayer brought condemnation from the pope. Her libido-obsessed album Erotica and accompanying coffee-table porno photo book, "Sex," caused a flap. In 1993, she angered the Puerto Rican government by putting the island's flag between her legs during a concert there.
But now the hot mama is mama to 7-year-old Lourdes, whose father is Madonna's former fitness trainer Carlos Leon, and 3-year-old Rocco, with British director Ritchie, whom she married in 2000. And the Catholic girl is heavily into the Hollywood-embraced Kabbalah spiritualism; during her entire performance, she wore a red Kabbalah string around her left wrist that the Jewish philosophy claims wards off the evil eye.
On the video screen, untranslated Hebrew text flashed for a couple songs. During Papa Don't Preach, Madonna twirled in her kilt and wore a black T-shirt with white letters that read, "Kabbalists Do It Better." She dedicated her single, Crazy For You, to all her fans "who have stuck by me for 20 years," then ripped off the Kabbalah T-shirt (she had a white tank top underneath) and threw it to the screaming fans.
That's about as crazy as she got interacting with the little people. At times, she seemed detached, and when she occasionally spoke, it was the pat stuff ("Are you having a good time?" "You guys are great.")
Maybe that's because Madonna was busy dancing, bouncing and sprawling her fine-toned bod all over the special "turntable" stage – when she wasn't sitting back mellow-like and strumming the acoustic guitar. All that yoga, Pilates and workouts paid off, because she looks in incredible shape.
In Madonna's opening number, she sang Vogue, dressed in a 19th-century-inspired, champagne-colored, bejeweled corset created by French designer Christian Lacroix and made flexible enough for her to do her moves. Later, she performed some of her classics, including Like A Prayer and Into The Groove.
But she disappointed some fans by not singing her 1984 hit, Like A Virgin. And when the less than two-hour show ended with Holiday, it seemed a bit abrupt. Red and white confetti rained down on the audience as Madonna and dancers rocked the crowd and strutted over a suspended catwalk above the floor.
"Thank you, good night," she said to the fans who, for most of the evening, were on their feet. Two large, overhead panels closed over the stage that in lights spelled out "Reinvent Yourself." The audience stayed for a while and wildly applauded, expecting an encore. There was none.
"No encore. I'm pissed. I want my money back," a sweat-drenched fan said as she left.
Others are plagued with Madonna fever. "I love her artistic drive," said Madiva, 31, the Madonna impersonator who has a seven-room Madonna "museum" in his New York City home and plans to attend 35 of her tour concerts. "I've maxed out my credit cards – it's the American way, baby."
Travis Goul, 32, who has tickets for 14 U.S. and European concerts, had six rhinestones stuck to his forehead and a jewel in each corner of his eye. The HMO case manager from L.A. and four friends wore T-shirts that read, "Madonna Cult Member."
Before entering The Forum, he predicted one inevitable part of her live show. "I have floor seats in the third row," he enthused. "I'll be able to feel her sweat." (source: SignOnSanDiego)

LA - 24 May - Madonna touches millions of hearts with "Imagine"
Pop diva Madonna touched the hearts of millions of fans when she performed John Lennon's moving number, Imagine during her Re-invention Tour. The singer wants to focus the world's attention towards children in war ravaged countries and while she sang the song, images of suffering children appeared on a huge screen behind her. "I wanted to make a statement. I feel that song is the ultimate peace song. I wish I wrote it, but it's the s**t and I wanted to do it, so I tried to do it my best, give it my best," the Frozen star was quoted as saying by "It was really important to have this stuff going on behind me - the pictures and stuff - and really hit home that it's children involved in all this chaos and destruction," she added. (source: WebIndia123)

LA - 24 May - Queen Madonna leaves her audience shocked and awed!
At the beginning of her Re-Invention Tour, Madonna had promised that the show would be like nothing ever seen before and with her first concert, Madonna seems to have silenced all her critics who said she was over the hill.
Nobody Knows Me According to The Sun, the concert which kicked off in Los Angeles this week re-established her as the queen of pop as she gave a high voltage performance which had her audience shocked and awed.
The concert opened with her song Vogue and she went all to perform all her hits from the 80's to her latest American life, including Papa Don't Preach, Holiday, Material Girl and the Bond song Die Another Day.
The most popular part of the concert, according to The Sun critic was the Army combat uniform wearing rendition of her song American Life, which was accompanied by a video of child war victims in Iraq.
The other song which is reported to have gone down well with the audience was her version of John Lennon's classic Imagine against a backdrop of a video footage of war victims.
The rest of the evening saw her strapped to an electric chair to sing the Bond song Die Another Day and donning a pin-stripped suit to sing, Don't Tell Me. She also wore her full kabalah clothes to perform Frozen with a homo-erotic video backdrop of naked men seemingly having sex.
Husband director Guy Ritchie is reported to have watched from the VIP seats with other kabalah followers as she strutted her stuff on the stage. (source: WebIndia123)

LA - 24 May - Many mixed messages, come see my show again
So how does Madonna reinvent herself on her Re-Invention Tour? It's nearly impossible to count the ways. Actually, "re-inflame" might be the better word, as seemingly every second of her extravagant two-hour performance features something rousing, whether in the elaborate sets, the stunning choreography, the massive video screens or the music itself.
Frozen One minute she's provocatively vogueing with her male dancers while homoerotic images flash behind her, the next she's in fatigues, twirling a rifle to the sounds of explosions and helicopters. In the blink of an eye she goes from being strapped in an electric chair to pulling up her kilt to spell the word "FREEDOM" with glitter letters on her and her dancers' underpants.
"There's a lot of mixed messages," Madonna admitted Monday backstage at the sold-out Great Western Forum, where she launched the tour. "It would take me hours to explain them. Come back and see the show again."
At $315 for a decent seat (plus $20 to $60 for parking, $45 to $60 for a T-shirt and $10 to $18 for a drink), that's a luxury few can afford, but there's certainly enough to the show that seeing it several times would make for different experiences. Like the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy with more sex.
Monday's show was divided into five segments, beginning with what resembled a Renaissance-era ball, until Madonna and her dancers walked on their hands and feet the arched-back way (ouch!) during a breakdown in the opening number, Vogue.
The band, tucked away in the back corners for most of the show, seamlessly transitioned from Nobody Knows Me to Frozen before a giant catwalk lowered from the ceiling and a circular section of the stage turned to reveal stacks of TVs.
Dancers dressed as soldiers, as well as nuns and other religious figures, joined Madge for a rendition of American Life made extra stark by images of war flashing on the various screens.
Livening up the mood, Madonna asked, "Come on, boys, do you believe in love?" as she launched into Express Yourself. After donning a guitar for Burning Up, she segued into an almost hard-rock version of Material Girl.
While Madonna exited for her third costume change, the stage turned again to reveal a circuslike atmosphere complete with a half-pipe and mohawked skateboarder. Various dancers, from a breakdancer to a tap dancer, strutted their stuff to the music of Hollywood, setting the tone for lighthearted, showgirl-like performances of Hanky Panky and Deeper And Deeper.
With Madonna still in her sexy corset, the mood suddenly turned for Die Another Day, which included imagery of an old man on his deathbed and ended with Madonna singing on an electric chair as it raised high above the stage.
"That's my favorite part," Madonna said later. "I like the idea of being restrained. I'm singing about all the things I could have had, but my ego got in the way and I destroyed all my happiness."
Swings dropped from the ceiling and three acrobatic dancers got their slither on for the next transition, which found Madonna in a black Stella McCartney suit to sing Nothing Fails and a funked-up Don't Tell Me.
"That was just a warm-up," she announced. "I don't want to see anyone sitting down the rest of the show. I'm giving my all and that's what I want back."
With that, she launched into Like A Prayer, accentuated by footage of a gospel choir. Images of Jesus and Mary faded away only to be replaced by impoverished kids. To accompany the heartbreaking photos, Madonna covered John Lennon's Imagine.
"I wanted to make a statement," Madonna said after the show. "I feel like that song is the ultimate peace song. ... And it was important to have the stuff going on behind me, the pictures, and really hit home that children are involved in all this chaos and destruction. I don't think people remember that all the time."
Frozen As she sang the words "We can live as one," Madonna held up one finger and was lowered beneath the stage for her final costume change.
A bagpipe player and a drumline, all decked out in kilts, took the stage playing a beat that morphed into Into The Groove. As Missy Elliott (also in Scottish attire) appeared on the screens to rap her part of the remix, Madonna and her dancers used wooden posts to enhance their hopscotch-style routine.
After donning a "Kabbalahists Do It Better" T-shirt for Papa Don't Preach (a play off the "Italians Do It Better" shirt she wore in the 1986 video), she slowed it down with Crazy For You."This is for all my fans who've stuck by me the last 20 years," she said.
The stage made one last turn, this time revealing lighted staircases surrounding a DJ, who mixed and scratched through Music while Madonna and her dancers transformed the arena into a steamy nightclub.
For the finale, the catwalk lowered again and Madonna danced to the front, singing Holiday as confetti exploded from all corners of the building, covering the enthusiastic audience.
Christina Aguilera, who had watched quietly from her seat most of the show, even cheered. And why not? All that excitement and she didn't even have to make out with Madonna.
The Re-Invention Tour plays the Forum again Tuesday (May 25) and Wednesday before moving on through the rest of the United States and then Canada and Europe before ending in September. (source: MTV)

LA - 24 May - New package for old themes
We've come to expect a few things from Madonna's live stage shows: energetic dance routines, quick changes of breathtaking costumes, more than a whiff of sexual innuendo, startling imagery ­ in short, a whole sound-and-light spectacle.
All the elements were in place as the 45-year-old happily married mother-of-two kicked off her first world tour in three years. Madonna strutted her stuff for two hours before a sell-out crowd at the Forum in Los Angeles on Monday night, thumping her way through 22 numbers that spanned her 20-year back catalogue.
Vogue Re-Invention, the show was called. But really, it was more of a re-tooling, a restatement of familiar themes and ideas in a glossy new package.
In an obvious nod to world events, she donned combat fatigues, and had dancers dressed up as soldiers doing push-ups and calisthenics to a video backdrop of whirring helicopters and explosions. This, though, was little more than a stage rendition of the much-discussed video she produced for last year's album, American Life.
Still, she pushed the theme as far as it would go. At one point, she offered a cover of John Lennon's Imagine, with images of sick and injured children projected behind her. In another sequence, she used footage of two boys, one Israeli, the other Palestinian, walking arm in arm. A world gone half-crazy was only one element of an eclectic show, however. Madonna stepped out at the beginning in a jewel-encrusted corset. Later on, she performed a suggestive tango with one of her female dancers. Her song Like A Prayer was given the gospel treatment, while Papa Don't Preach was given a distinctively Scottish flavour, complete with kilts and a bagpiper.
The singer's interest in the spiritual philosophy of the Jewish Kabbalah also received an airing, with untranslated Hebrew text scrolled behind her.
The Los Angeles debut is the start of a 50-date tour of North America and Europe, including six nights in London in August. Rumours were swirling yesterday over her decision to cancel three planned stops in Israel, with various newspapers suggesting she had received specific threats against her and her two children Lourdes, seven, and Rocco, three. That, though, appeared to be an overheated interpretation of events. Madonna told the US programme Access Hollywood that her managers had been overwhelmed by the security implications. Asked if she had been personally threatened, she answered: "No. If I had my way, I'd go. My manager wouldn't let me."
Putting together a Madonna tour is no mean feat, which might explain why there hasn't been one since the Drowned World extravaganza in 2001. This time around, she has five on-stage musicians, a dozen dancers and more than 100 other roadies, managers, publicity staff and personal assistants. Designers commissioned to produce her wardrobe include Jean-Paul Gaultier, plus Stella McCartney, Christian Lacroix, Prada and Chanel. (source: Independant)

LA - 24 May - Madonna re-invents but cancels Israel
The queen of pop, Madonna, has kicked off her new world tour in Los Angeles in a show peppered with anti-war images as she cancelled her Israeli concert dates amid fears of terror attacks. The musical icon launched her 50-concert tour in energetic style before a capacity crowd at the Inglewood Forum late Monday, switching seamlessly from jewelled costumes to military fatigues that evoked war in the Middle East.
But as the queen of the revamp began her Re-Invention Tour, the mother of two announced she had been forced to pull the plug on her Israeli tour as violence racks the West Bank and Gaza. "It's not a good idea to go there and do concerts," she told the US television entertainment show "Access Hollywood" in an exclusive interview aired late Monday. The British tabloid newspaper The Sun reported Monday that Madonna had cancelled her three Israeli dates after she received threats against her and her children, seven-year-old Lourdes and three-year-old Rocco. But Madonna denied she or her brood had been threatened, saying: "No, if I had my way, I'd go. My manager wouldn't let me." She said her manager scrapped the Israeli concerts scheduled for September because of the "attack on the leader of Hamas." Israeli forces killed the Hamas founder, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, in March and his successor, Abdelaziz Rantissi, in April amid an escalation of violence in the region.
Under the shadow of Middle East violence and the war in Iraq, the 45-year-old Madonna kicked off her politically fuelled Re-Invention Tour with the energy that made her world famous more than two decades ago. A video backdrop showing tough images of US soldiers at war and injured children popped up during her camouflage-clad rendition of American Life, drawing ire from some members of the audience. Images of a Palestinian boy walking arm in arm with an Israeli were shown, and pictures of ill or injured children formed the backdrop as Madonna sang John Lennon's Imagine.
She belted out both new and classic songs, including Vogue, Into The Groove, Crazy For You and Papa Don't Preach, as well as her mega-hit Material Girl. But some fans, who paid up to 200 dollars for their tickets, were bitterly disappointed that she did not perform one of her trademark numbers, Like A Virgin.
While there were around 12 costume changes, gone were the conical bras of her 1980s heyday, replaced by more sober and less sexually provocative duds.
Over the next four months, some 750,000 fans are expected to see Madonna perform in concert in venues including London, New York, Paris and Toronto. (source: AFP)

LA - 24 May - Supple, not subtle
Vogue She may be supple, but Madonna was anything but subtle when she kicked off her 50-date Re-Invention Tour in Los Angeles last night. In a show that sometimes resembled a workout for the Olympic gymnastic team, she bent and birled, did backflips and pirouettes ... and still proved that she was still the undisputed queen of pop. The Material Girl may be a 45-year-old mother of two now, but she still has the body and moves of a woman half her age. She looked sensational as she showed off her physique toned by arduous sessions of Ashtanga yoga. The audience gasped as she appeared in five eye-popping costumes by designers Chanel, John Paul Gaultier, Stella McCartney and Christian Lacroix. These are Madonna's first live dates since 2001, when she embarked on the Drowned World Tour. Having embraced marriage, motherhood and spiritual awakening, she's now out to show fans that she's still at the top of her game. Madonna will take a 110-strong entourage on the tour, which will make its way across North America and Europe. More than 750,000 fans are expected to see the show which she will use to showcase music from her 20-year career. She arrives in London in August for six dates at Wembley Stadium. (source: Evening Times)

LA - 24 May - Images of war and suffering
The Re-Invention Tour began in Los Angeles last night and featured the Material Girl dancing in Army fatigues while images of war accompanied her songs. Fans had paid more than £100 to watch the show, which was set to the sounds of dropping bombs and military helicopters. Images of a Palestinian boy walking arm in arm with an Israeli were shown, and pictures of ill or injured children formed the backdrop as Madonna sang John Lennon’s Imagine. Despite the political statements, Madonna still pleased the fans with renditions of her most famous hits like [Holiday] and Vogue.
In another throwback to the past, the 45-year-old mother also donned a trademark cone-bra. Around three quarters of a million fans are expected to see the 39 shows scheduled for the United States and Canada. There will be more performances in Paris, Manchester and London.
Meanwhile, Madonna told a US television show that she wanted to perform in Israel but explained why plans to go there were dropped. She told Access Hollywood that her manager said she should not travel to Israel because of the “attack on the leader of Hamas”. “It’s not a good idea to go there and do concerts,” she told the syndicated entertainment TV show. She said: “If I had my way, I’d go. My manager wouldn’t let me.” Israel killed the founder of Hamas, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, in March and the group’s Gaza leader, Abdul-Aziz Rantisi, in April. (source: The Scotsman)

LA - 24 May - Mixed reactions
Madonna has launched her world tour in Los Angeles with a politically-charged and highly energetic show. A capacity crowd turned out to see the pop icon take to the stage at The Forum in the LA suburb of Inglewood. Looking more toned than ever, the 45-year old performer belted out a string of her greatest hits including Into The Groove, Holiday, Vogue and Material Girl. Like A Prayer was a given a gospel treatment while Papa Don't Preach was reinvented with a Scottish lilt - complete with bagpipes and Madonna decked out in a swirling plaid kilt.
"It was fun, I loved it, it was awesome," said Oro Cro, a Madonna fan who travelled to LA from Mexico for the concert. "I love Madonna, anywhere she goes, I'll go."
Nobody Knows Me "She's in great shape, it was a great concert," added Kira Carstensen, from Los Angeles.
Madonna has toned down her sexually provocative performances of previous tours. There were no conical bra outfits or overt expressions of sexuality. In fact, much to the disappointment of many fans she did not perform one of the best-known songs, Like a Virgin. Madonna has attempted to reinvent herself into a sober, thoughtful singer who takes time out during the frantic performance to strum a guitar and act all grown up.
"We are so disappointed - what happened to the cool energetic Madonna?' asked Meda Namdar, a fan from Orange County in California. "I mean come on dude, get out there, start dancing," she urged Madonna.
Politically, the concert hit a number of raw nerves with the audience. Madonna's use of video images of war - bombs being dropped and injured children - distracted the eye from the singer's own performance. The powerful footage dominated long sections of the show - including during Madonna's cover of John Lennon's Imagine. When Lennon's photo was flashed on the screen, the audience erupted. At times the political imagery prompted the audience to the raise the roof, but afterwards many expressed doubts and disappointment about the anti-war message.
"Nobody cares about her political views," said Ms Namdar. "Who is Madonna to be offering her political views - she's just an entertainer. It's like the Pope starting a rock band."
Other audience members said they felt the political theme was inappropriate for the times. "There are political leaders that make political decisions and there are entertainers that should entertain," said Vahid Berdjis, a physician originally from Iran who now works and lives in LA. "I can understand that both can be intermixed and intertwined but this is not the arena," he explained. "Especially in the state of emergency that this world is in where for just for one time we wanted to get out and have a good time and clear our minds."
"She's going into a different era with her music - she's trying to become very political and she's trying to appeal to the gentle side of people," suggested another fan - James McKowen from Liverpool, now living in LA. Others took the evening less seriously. In the car park after the event, one fan was boasting that he had managed to catch a sweaty T-shirt discarded into the crowd by Madonna. "We'll be on eBay tomorrow, look for us,' he screamed at fellow fans. (source: BBC News)

LA - 24 May - Politics and religion on stage
Madonna kicked off her worldwide Re-Invention Tour on Monday with an extravagant and politically charged show that featured the diva singing in Army fatigues against a video backdrop of a war-torn nation. Madonna opened the show wearing a jewel-encrusted corset but changed into combat gear when she sang American Life backed up by the sounds of dropping bombs. On stage, dancers dressed like soldiers did push-ups and calisthenics as helicopters and infernos blazed on the video screens behind them. The 45-year-old Material Girl did not disappoint her longtime fans, many of whom paid upward of $200 per ticket, by relying on many of her old hits like [Holiday] and Vogue punctuated by spectacular choreography.
"I knew there would be a lot of politics and religion tonight. It's kind of like she's grown up, but she's still hot," said Dee Dee Kennedy, 36, a saleswoman for Kettel One Vodka, who saw Madonna 20 years ago when she was a college student. Kennedy, who paid about $150 for her seat, also bought tickets for another Los Angeles show as well as one in Las Vegas this weekend.
Skirting her trademark cone-bra bustiers, Madonna aimed to shock the crowd with video shots of nudity and apocalyptic imagery. In one number, male dancers pranced around in plaid skirts. Spirituality and her passion for Kabbalah, an ancient practice of Jewish mysticism, also took center stage with untranslated Hebrew text often displayed in the background of her performances. Another high point for many concertgoers was Madonna's rendition of John Lennon's Imagine, which was accompanied by a video of sick and injured children from around the world.
An estimated 750,000 people are expected to see 39 shows scheduled for the U.S. and Canadian leg of her tour. Madonna's publicist declined to comment earlier on reports the performer canceled shows in Israel due to death threats directed at the singer and her family. Madonna's Drowned World Tour in 2001 grossed $55 million from 28 shows in 12 cities, ranking No. 6 on top U.S. tours for that year, according to concert trade magazine Pollstar. (source: Reuters)

LA - 24 May - I'm gonna avoid the cliché
Nobody Knows Me "I'm gonna avoid the cliche." So goes the lyric from Madonna's Die Another Day, one of her more recent songs and one she performs in her Re-Invention Tour. This kicked off last night in Inglewood, Calif. at the Forum. That sentiment is not only the hallmark of most of her career, but it is the vital component that lifts her current concert spectacle thrillingly above a mere "greatest hits" concert package. The following is a report from my man on the scene, Denis Ferrara, a Madonna fan for several decades and an astute critic observer who was in L.A.
"Does she present those familiar tunes - Vogue, Into The Groove, Crazy For You, Papa Don't Preach? You bet. She even belts a song she once swore she hated and would never sing again - Material Girl. But if you were expecting her to don a scarlet strapless gown and shimmy a la Marilyn, you don't know your Madonna. She has taken some of her vintage pop history and made it 'shiny and new ... like a virgin.' (Sorry, she doesn't reinvent that one this time.) The arrangements are forcefully driven or sensually slowed down - who knew her Deeper And Deeper dance hit had such erotic/romance resonance?
"Madonna presents herself as a vital, joyfully relevant and committed artist. She is giving her fans a taste of the past, washed with her refusal to compromise or to condescend. Or even to pretend for the sake of entertainment that she hasn't changed. She has changed. And she hopes you have, too, or will. In other words, although there are no naked, pregnant dancing girls or 'plenty of lesbian love,' as has been erroneously reported, the envelope still gets pushed. Madonna and director Jamie King offer dazzling video images as Madonna performs - beautiful, disturbing, over the top, political, mystical, mysterious, religious. During Mother And Father, the Catholic images presented will wow even Mel Gibson - unless he objects to the lack of violence. Kabbalah, the spiritual philosophy that has so influenced Madonna, comes in for some recognition, but she does not belabor her beliefs. If controversy erupts, it will be because of how some of these images are interpreted not because of anything Madonna says or does onstage.
"There's no crotch-grabbing, pointed bosoms or pointless profanity from the star. In powerful voice, with much improved guitar skills, her athletic dance style denying the years, she needs nothing up her sleeve. She is still an artist who wants to provoke, to spark an idea, to amuse and engage. She seems, however, to have put Shock - for so long her random companion - to bed. She never really needed him.
"Unlike 2001's Drowned World Tour, which was dark, often hostile, Re-Invention returns Madonna to the light. She looks as if she is having a good time. Like A Prayer is an invocation of divine inspiration. Papa Don't Preach is rendered as a joyous celebration of nature, with Madonna girlishly whirling in a long plaid kilt and a white wife-beater tee. Hanky Panky is simply giddy fun. Her cover of John Lennon's Imagine - backed with the show's most moving visuals - is profound and resonant.
"Costuming is elegant and not fussy, except for a few leggy, showgirly getups. And even Madonna wanted a few more sequins, but Cher's two- year farewell tour depleted the world supply.
"Madonna performed for friends and family at Sunday's final rehearsal. There was some celeb glitz with the presence of Demi Moore and Ashton Kutchner. Lots of children, lots of Kabbalah pals. After the show, she called one of her spiritual advisers up on stage to give his blessing. He offered a homey tribute to everybody's dedication, power and faith, promising that the best was yet to be. This was nice but not enough for Madonna. 'Ooh, give us a blessing, please?' she asked winsomely. And so he did.
"Coming off after singing 22 songs live and dancing like a mad thing, Madonna looked remarkably fresh, if damp from exertion. Her body is petite, toned but not as muscular as it appears under the dramatic stage lighting. Complimented, she said, 'I hope you liked it. It came from the heart.' And then she inquired, with a kind of childlike hopelessness, 'When it was over, did you feel uplifted?' Assured, she shrugged delicately, beamed, and said, 'OK then, I've done my job.'"
And Denis, you did your job for all Madonna fans out there! (source: Liz Smith, New York Post)

LA - 24 May - In bend with Madonna
Vogue Madonna vaulted around the stage on the first night of her Re-Invention World Tour in Los Angeles more like her 22-year old new best friend Britney Spears than a 45-year-old who has been in the business for a quarter of a century. These extraordinary pictures taken at the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles show just how flexible Madonna's devotion to yoga has made her.
In fact, much of the opening of the concert was taken up by Madonna showing off her latest moves - the crab position is instantly recognisable, then maybe... the lobster? It was starting to look like Madonna had gone all moderate on us with less flesh, sex and little mention of her antiwar stance. But an hour-and-a-half into the show, out came Old Sparky, the electric chair.
But even that though was a little of an anti-climax when, instead of sparks, the chair was simply lowered below stage.
A white bandage on her right arm and a black knee support showed signs that the superstar is getting older and she wore her red Kabbalah bracelet throughout.
Husband Guy Ritchie bounced and screamed from his seat on the sidelines. Tom Cruise and Christina Aguilera were among the celebrities in the audience. Madonna started in a glittery basque for Vogue then changed into a vest and kilt for Into The Groove and army gear for the Bush-bashing American Life. The tour, Madonna's first for three years, comes to the Wembley Arena in London in August. (source: This Is London)

LA - 24 May - Madonna in sparkling form
Pop star Madonna was on sparkling form last night for the launch of her world tour. The singer showed herself to be in peak fitness at a packed concert in the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles. The date was the first of 50 for the Re-Invention Tour which will see the singer perform in the US, Canada and Europe. Her entourage includes more than 100 people travelling on the road, 56 security guards working backstage and 12 dancers. A truck houses her wardrobe and make-up and she has also made provision for a children's playroom backstage. An estimated 750,000 fans are expected to see the show, which arrives in the UK in August. (source: Ananova)