I’m a girl of the 80s. Sky high bangs, the heady scent of Aquanet, and over-sized Coca-Cola sweatshirts all hold a special little place in my neon pink heart. Everything about that time seems airy and sugar-coated. Yes, I know we still had the Cold War and nuclear annihilation as real threats during most of those years but they almost seem quaint in the face of today’s war on terrorism, global warming, and Honey Boo Boo. The movies, the tv shows, the clothes…it was just all so fun. And of course, there was the music. I can’t tell you what I had for lunch yesterday but I can recite the lyrics to George Michael’s Faith almost verbatim. So when I heard the Queen of Pop herself, Madonna, was coming to St Paul after a 25 year absence from the Minnesota tour circuit, I knew I had to get tickets.
In anticipation of what I was sure would be an epic event, my girlfriends and I booked a hotel room in St Paul so that we wouldn’t have to worry about driving home that evening in a less than completely sober state (read: tequila shots!). We joined forces with other friends attending the concert and made dinner reservations at a restaurant in downtown St Paul. We texted, emailed, and re-texted each other over what to wear. I spent the week prior to the show listening to Madonna on my iPod. I did everything short of donning a Boy Toy belt buckle and a cone bra to prepare for the big night.
The concert was this past Saturday night and although the tickets stated an 8pm start time, we knew she wouldn’t come on till later. We enjoyed a very leisurely dinner where I mixed alcoholic beverages (martinis! wines! beers!) with careless abandon. Buzzed and happy, we headed over to the arena around 9:30, where we amused ourselves with some excellent people watching:
9:30 turned to 10pm. And 10pm turned to 10:30pm. Still no Madge. 10:45, the lights finally dimmed and while the tipsy-trying-to-recapture-my-youth-Jane was excited for the concert to start, the 37-year-old-mother-of-two-curmudgeon was a tad bit annoyed by the overly late start. My annoyance turned into shock though when one of Madonna’s first numbers, “Gang Bang,” featured her in a “motel” onstage in all her leather-clad glory shooting her male dancers with a gun, complete with larger than life blood splatters on the video screen behind her. Hmmm…talk about a buzz kill. What happened to the happy, peppy songs like “Cherish” or “Holiday?” This may not be the concert I had anticipated in my head.
And it was not. Madonna “sang” a disproportionate amount of songs from her latest album, MDNA, which to me all sounded like garbled, synthesized noise. And yes, I completely acknowledge that this last statement makes me sound like a disgruntled senior citizen without enough fiber in her diet. I was hoping for at least a good chunk of songs from her glory days….Material Girl, Papa Don’t Preach, Crazy for You, Into the Groove, Borderline. I even would have been happy with her later 90s stuff where she reinvented herself as some Mother Earth Yoga goddess dressed inexplicably in a kimono. Instead, she sang a handful of her older material but never in their entirety or in their original format. Her slow, cabaret version of “Like a Virgin” elicited a polite golf clap from most of the people around us. And when she was writhing slowly on the stage floor, licking her mike in a pantomimed act of fellatio, I wanted to yell out, “You’re 54 for goodness sakes! Have some dignity!” Yup, I know– I’m adding Metamucil to my grocery list…right…now.
When it became apparent that this wouldn’t be the dance-a-thon that I was hoping for, I sat down in my seat and began to check my emails. Then, as the night grew later, I found myself trying not to fall asleep. Lest you think I was the sole lame-o in the arena, the 6 gay guys in our row also spent a majority of the concert sitting down. Gay men! Seated! At a Madonna concert! Sad but true.
So the concert, was for me, a big let down. Sure there were some positive points….I did marvel at the fact that she danced her ass off for 2 hours at 54 years of age. But I certainly didn’t spend $190 on my ticket to ooh and ahh over her stamina. And sure, I understand that as an artist, she wanted to showcase her newer songs instead of living in the past. Maybe if I had been younger and didn’t have so many emotional ties to her music, I would have appreciated that more. But I didn’t and I don’t think I was the only one that felt that way. Because if she had taken a look at her audience, she would have seen that the vast majority of people there were like me…men and women who came of age in the 80s and early 90s, desperately seeking their youth.