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Madonna’s Concert in Hyde Park Cements Her Reputation as One of the Greats

Posted on the 18 July 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost
Madonna at Hyde Park Madonna: Cover of her MDNA album

The background

Madonna played at Hyde Park this week, in front of 65,000 fans. She was following on from Paul Simon and Bruce Springsteen. It’s part of her  MDNA tour; she’s already caused trouble by flashing a breast in Istanbul, and she’s facing legal action in France. She’s 53. So what was this show like? Well, she managed to finish before the local council curfew (unlike Springsteen). But can the superannuated songstress keep her crown against younger pretenders such as Lady Gaga? Most certainly, say (most) reviewers. And there wasn’t even any mud to spoil the show. And she flashed her bottom whilst mixing in a Lady Gaga song and singing “She’s not me!”

Typically sensationalist

Neil McCormick on The Telegraph said it was “typically sensationalist and schizophrenic,” with a mix of “sex, ultra violence, religion, kitsch and politics to bizarre but entertaining effect.” She had “lights, dancers, giant video screens, hydraulics, costume changes, flying drummers, tightrope walking, cheerleaders, a basque folk trio … And music too.” Like a Virgin was a “highlight”. MDNA has been a “flop”, because she’s “trying too hard.” The aggressive opening bits of the show really suit her, as she stamps around “in black leather like an aging dominatrix.” She’s not consistent, but for “sheer wacky mass pop entertainment,” she’s “more than equal to the challenge of all her young pretenders.”

Her message is inclusion and unity

Harriet Walker on The Independent said the show wasn’t “lacking in punch.” The audience mostly “came alive for some of the older hits.” She kicked off proceedings with “a batch of claret-clad monks”, and followed it with some “suitably sacrilegious” stuff – emerging “from a confessional booth with a machine gun.” She “gave the crowd just what they wanted.” Her message is, really, “inclusion and unity.” Though the show was spoiled by her shouting: “We love you, Poland.” Ultimately, seeing her live “is a privilege, whether or not she keeps her clothes on or knows what country she is in.”

Her energy levels sagged

There were moments when “energy levels sagged,” said Adrian Thrills on The Daily Mail, and the new stuff is “hard to digest.” But even so, she’s still “one of the greats.”

She played to her strengths, but the sound was bad

Alexis Petridis on The Guardian said that it wasn’t so much the weather, but the “sound, or rather lack of it.” The volume was “so feeble it sounds less like a live performance than something being sodcasted through the internal speaker on a mobile phone.” It wasn’t her fault, but it was “compounded by her choice of material.” She relies too heavily on the “so-so” MDNA, and she performed Like a Virgin as “an agonisingly slow torch ballad.” (In this he disagreed with McCormick, who thought that this ballady version showed Madonna had potential new strengths.) Ultimately, though, it was the sound “of Madonna playing to her own strengths.”

She was almost a disaster

The tour, said Natalie Shaw on Arts Desk, was “even more disconnected from the fans than the album.” She “sapped” joy out of “even her most triumphant choruses.” The whole thing felt like “a gathering of fans watching a rarities DVD: there was a dry lack of atmopshere and connection.” Will “an acoustic album” be “the next sorry step?”

Watch the opening sequence below

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