My friends and I waited most of the afternoon yesterday to catch the Madonna concert on TV. Clever of her to conceal it in a worldwide series of concerts designed to raise awareness about — and presumably money to help combat — global warming.
We streamed it online live from London and displayed it on my friend’s wide screen TV. After some downloading and installing and rudimentary hacking, he got it set up just in time for the announcer to say, “Ladies and gentlemen… Madonna!”
She started with her new song, “Hey You,” which I’m not entirely sure I like a whole lot. But she was stunning and angelic in that simple black dress, her platinum-colored hair flowing in waves, her voice fine, soft and strong. With that children’s choir backing her up and the the arms of thousands swaying, it was a very Michael-Jackson-Heal-the-World moment. But better, because it was Madonna. Or maybe, to be more precise, because it was not Michael Jackson.
Then she sent the kids off and got down the business. She strapped on a guitar, took a wide stance, and called out to the cheering masses:
“If you wanna save the planet, let me see you jumping up and down! Come on, motherfuckers!“
Maybe not the message Al Gore had in mind, but it was easy advice for the obliging audience to follow. But who cares about messages? Madonna probably has one of the largest carbon footprints of the performers on the bill.
What was essentially the Confessions Tour version of “Ray of Light” was followed by the strangest version of “La Isla Bonita” I have ever witnessed in my life. The Romani Gypsies she called out to tear up the joint were totally weird and wild and crazy … and an absolutely perfect accompaniment to the song. My friends and I shot quizzical glances at each other at first, but then it suddenly seemed OK. Madonna wills it, and it is so.
She wrapped it up with “Hung Up,” just like her last tour. Countless performers and celebrities had taken that London stage throughout the day. They had all occupied the space and put in their time, and said kind and sometimes inspirational words and made pretty music. But when Madonna took that stage, she owned it. Duran Duran, Genesis, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Snow Patrol, Keane, Back Eyed Peas, Foo Fighters — all an elaborate opening act for one person.
Madonna brought the party that closed that show. I don’t know if it did much to stop global warming, but it sent the spectators out of Wembley feeling pretty darn good. Maybe it’s just what they needed after a day full of bad news.