Madonna’s Hits-Filled Celebration Tour, Dissected


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The videos for “Don’t Tell Me” and “Hung Up” feature my favorite Madonna choreography, and while I was extremely happy to get them both live on this tour, they were both abbreviated! (So were a lot of other songs, but these felt especially egregious.) Still: I love this one’s stubborn message, and it was a blast to see the group number recreated on the Celebration stage — and a reminder that Madonna, always ahead of the curve, went cowboy chic back in 2000.

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The section of the show dedicated to Madonna’s early days in New York and her first hits underscored the grit it took to get noticed and the glee she took in escaping on the dance floor. “Everybody” and “Holiday” were delightful, but her live performance of “Open Your Heart” made me discover the song anew: beautifully constructed, simple and still dramatic in the best ways, a real piece of pop perfection.

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OK, now for the requests: This 2000 song joined the set list for the finale in Rio, but it should have been there the whole time! It’s a statement of purpose that encapsulates Madonna’s entire career. It is electrifying heard over the speakers of an arena — we know this, because it was the centerpiece of her Confessions Tour, when she performed it as an ecstatic roller disco in a crisp white suit.

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Personally, I would have traded “Human Nature” for this “Bedtime Stories” single, which has one of the more unusual chord progressions in the Madonna catalog — a satisfying blend of major and minor that actually sounds mysterious and alluring.

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Motherhood was the defining theme of the Celebration show, a thread that ran from the opener “Nother Really Matters” through the many moments featuring Madonna’s children (four of them went on the road and appeared each night). She performed “Mother and Father,” a song about loss from her 2003 album “American Life,” with her son David, and it did grow on me as a result. (I would have preferred “Hollywood,” but that’s a whole other mood.) Still, I missed “Oh Father,” the dramatic ballad from “Like a Prayer” that was a highlight of Blond Ambition.

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We had a lot of early hits in the show, so I get why it didn’t make the cut, but I will say this: Someone was playing this 1985 smash on a sound system outside of Barclays Center after the second show I saw in Brooklyn, and watching the crowd dance and shout along, I realized I missed this moment during the concert. Still a certified banger!



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