pop culture


When last we spoke, I was headed to see Margaret Cho at Radio City Music Hall! Well, that was an incredible, fun experience. It was great to finally see the inside of Radio City, and I’ve just got to say that is one big mofo theater. Margaret Cho and her opening act were hilarious. The first words out of Margaret’s mouth: “I fucking hate Sarah Palin!” So you kinda know you’re not in Alaska at this point! She touched on politics for a little bit, but Margaret’s favorite topic is most definitely sex. Sex sex sex. Did I say sex? Because if I didn’t, well, Sex! Hilarious though. Not for the easily offended, for sure. But the venue was packed and everyone was laughing their ass off.

The next day, Larry and I were going to go see ‘Rachel Getting Married’, but discovered that at the theater it was playing (out of two in the city), there was a ginormous line around the corner. I had no motivation for that kind of packed experience, so I suggested it was time to do something else, so we headed to South Street Seaport. It’s a touristy area right down by Wall Street in the downtown area of Manhattan. It was pretty cool though, and a decent way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Then it was back home for me and time to watch The Amazing Race that evening because I do have my extracurricular job where I write about the extra video clips on the CBS website! The racers this year are for the most part, idiots. It’s still entertaining though. Crazily enough, I haven’t been watching Survivor this year. I’ve DVR’d it and am ready to watch it, but so far, I haven’t. What the hell?

Yet the most exciting and awesome thing this week has to be the fact that this past Tuesday evening, I saw Madonna in concert!!!!! Redonkulous. I’ve wanted to actually see her in concert for so long, but typically, I’ve never been with people who would be willing to go see her and pay for the privilege too. Luckily I now have such a person: Larry! A few weeks ago I picked up two tickets for not too horrendous of a price because I just couldn’t NOT go to her concert yet again. So Larry & I headed to Madison Square Garden and well, basically got blown away by her amazing show. Madonna knows how to put on a fantastic and entertaining concert. She has so much material to draw from, and while she definitely focused this concert heavily off of her most recent album, Hard Candy, she mixed it with many of her previous songs. Better yet, she doesn’t just sing cover versions of the songs as heard in the albums. Instead, she always reinterprets the songs so that you’re never sure what to expect. Here was the setlist:

Candy Shop: From Hard Candy, and not my favorite song, but a good song to get the crowd on its feet, which it would pretty much be for the whole rest of the concert. That was one thing I noticed throughout the show – her entire audience was completely into the show and dancing and just having a blast. It made for a very fun concert.
Beat Goes On: She kept the energy up with this next song from Hard Candy, and it featured huge video screens of Kanye West singing along with Madonna. The video screens she used in this concert were mind-blowing, because they were so huge and vivid, and were always transforming into different placements.
Human Nature: Here she rocked it out a little. Awesome song from the 90s album, Bedtime Stories. “I’m not your bitch, don’t hang your shit on me!”
Vogue: A definite highlight of the show for me. She remixed the song and spliced it with the music and band sounds from her recent hit, ‘4 Minutes’. Amazing. It is always cool to hear this song though.
– The first act ended and Madonna disappeared and so in the meantime, Die Another Day played while two of her dancers did a boxing number out in the extended stage.
Into The Groove: This song signaled the progression in to the next Act, and she started the Act off with this very remixed and disco-riffic take on ‘Into the Groove’, accompanied by a lot of jump-roping. When she and her dancers were all in sync while jump-roping, it was pretty damn cool.
Heartbeat: A great song from Hard Candy, and I can’t really remember how it was staged, but it turned the energy down a little bit, but not in a bad way.
Borderline: She tossed out Holiday and Like A Virgin in this tour and replaced the ‘Really Old Song Slot’ with Borderline, which was just fine by me. And in this version, it wasn’t some synthesizer’d version but her doing a hard-rock version while playing guitar. Excellent.
She’s Not Me: One of my favorite songs from Hard Candy, and the beat on this was pretty sweet as she also got to beat up on ‘imposters’ of her earlier incarnations. These imposters were her dancers in drag, which was pretty funny, as one was dressed as Material Girl, one as Like A Virgin Bride, one as Erotica, and another as Human Nature girl (I think…)
Music: This was a relatively uninspired version of what I consider to be one of her best dance songs. It was of course entertaining, but in her previous concerts, she has made this song one of the more fantastic and exciting parts of her concert. Here, it was of course still good, but just not the highlight.
– After Music finished, a bit of Rain was played amidst a lot of stormy visuals and sounds, but then it subsided as act 3 began…
Devil Wouldn’t Recognize You: A ballad from Hard Candy, and this signaled the start of Act III. It definitely turned the energy way down but again, it wasn’t unwelcome to sit down a little bit. We also got to see another part of the amazing stage transform, as over the extended catwalk part of the stage, a huge cylindrical screen lowered itself down to completely envelop the end of the catwalk. You could still see through it, but the screen would get completely enveloped in video graphics too. It was very impressive.
Spanish Lesson: The energy level picked up here in this very latin-flavored song from Hard Candy, as she danced amongst her dancers draped in creepy robes and video of beautiful flamenco folks. Of course, if there’s a latin flavor in the air, you KNOW that means one thing is coming….
Miles Away: …but first, she then mellowed the energy again as she introduced this song for those of you out there having intimacy issues. It’s a sad song from Hard Candy about being with someone who can only tell you they love you when you’re ‘miles away’ and never to you directly. Good song.
La Isla Bonita: This was of course the inevitable climax to a latin section, and I don’t know if any concert of hers hasn’t had this song in it! Wow – this song was another definite highlight of the show though, as she brought the house down with the powerful latin vibes. Surprisingly though, it also showcased a very ‘Yiddish’ section with a part where I would swear the song evolved into the Hava Nagila’s first cousin. Which of course means I LOVED it. I seriously hope this concert is released on DVD because I will watch this section again and again.
You Must Love Me: From the movie Evita that she starred in, this was actually a very touching version of the song and amazingly well done. It’s by no means an easy song to sing and hearing her belt it out as well as she did was great. A low key number after such a rousing previous song, but it was a wonderful conclusion to this act with her singing alone and basically singing to her fans the obvious: You Must Love Me.
4 Minutes: Yay! I began to think it was possible that all we’d hear of this song was the music mixed in with Vogue earlier, but nope, a very interactive video screen segment combined with her rocking this song was an amazing way to start her final act. The energy level pegged out at this point and didn’t let up until the end of the show – how does she do it? The woman is 50 and has energy girls (or guys) half her age don’t.
Like A Prayer:  Before this song was the infamous video montage of political figures, both bad and good.  But when she sings this song, holy crap, it was incredible.  THIS WAS THE MOST INCREDIBLE PART OF THE SHOW.  It’s not only an awesome song in it’s own right, but Madonna rocked this mother out!  The energy was unreal in this performance, and the audience was electrified.  And she took the song definitely toward it’s more spiritual meaning as opposed to the more sexual interpretation of the lyrics.  It was to put it simply: Awesome.
Ray of Light:  After such a crescendo, you’d think it would be hard to keep the energy up, but Ray of Light is no slouch in the energy
department.  Here was when the laser show began (no kidding).  It was incredible.
– At this point, there was a pause as Madonna asked for requests – since it was New York, someone shouted for her to sing ‘I Love New York‘ from her Confessions on a Dance Floor album. It was more a clap-and-sing-along but it was still pretty damn cool as pretty much the entire audience was able to sing along with her, and she and the crowd took alternating turns singing the lyrics.
Hung Up:  Another fantastic song in Madonna’s catalog and one of her most danceable.  It was certainly entertaining and maintained the energy, but compared to the previous staging of it in her previous concert (which I’ve seen on DVD), it wasn’t a show-stopper.  I was afraid this was going to be the end of the show, and started feeling a little like…’she can’t end it on this!’  Luckily I was wrong.
Give It 2 Me:  Probably the best song on Hard Candy, it’s funky and just a fun dance song.  And while it started off a bit ‘sedate’, by the end, the stage lights were going nuts, the dancers and her were in complete overdrive, and the audience was going crazy. It was a fantastic end to a show I’ve been waiting most of my life for.

There was no encore, but there was kind of a tease because after she disappeared backstage, the same volume of music started pumping out Holiday, but alas, it was just music to get usher us the hell out of there.  🙂  Overall thoughts:  I went in expecting to be disappointed, which I’m embarrassed to admit.  I figured it just couldn’t live up to my ridiculously high expectations.  I was proved completely wrong.  Madonna puts on one helluva concert and even though she’s 50, I don’t see any signs of her slowing down.  Rock on, Madonna!

And that brings me to today!  I’m still kinda sleepy because I just haven’t been getting to sleep until midnight or so every night.  This week has been hectic and crazy, but also because of writing about those Amazing Race videos, I stay up late.  Whatever, you only live once!

In upcoming news, it looks like I’ll be heading down to the DC area with Larry to go visit Jeff Crepeau for the Columbus Day weekend.  Yay!!!!

And in a few short weeks, we’ll be heading to Vegas to finally see Mom and help her celebrate her birthday!!!  Yay!!!!!!!!!!

Peace out, NBC style.

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