Saturday, May 1, 2010

Eye Candy: Madonna’s Sticky and Sweet Tour Comes Out on DVD

Still justifying our love on stage and off for nearly 30 years, Madonna's latest tour, The Sticky and Sweet Tour, broke records around the world. Now the material girl is giving her fans some more material to taste. Finally out on DVD, The Sticky and Sweet Tour DVD sweetens up any day.

In the concerts four themes: Pimp, Old School, Gypsy, and Rave, Madonna once again adds her own special brand of flavor to the concept of a conventional tour. Though some classics, such as “Erotica,” “Express Yourself,” and “Deeper and Deeper,” were omitted, the show remains a sweet sensation. When it comes to her raw vocals, never well-praised for her voice, Madonna’s concert performances are getting better. Of course, anything would be better, considering the hoarse and off-keyness of the 1987’s Who’s That Girl Tour vocals.

In the beginning, Madonna, the candy pimp, comes out on her throne, surrounded by swirly sweets as she gives the first flavor of the show, Hard Candy’s “Candy Shop.” The song is fitting, as it invites the audience to come into her store and try some of her sugar, and yes, it is sticky and sweet. She pushes cars in “Beat Goes On” and out-dances her dancers that are half her age, and this is only the beginning of the show.

The “Britney Spears-going-crazy-while-trapped-in-an-enclosed-elevator” bit during “Human Nature” serves the song’s message appropriately, but you cannot help but wonder if Ms. Spears even knew she was being recorded.
As always, Madonna’s performance of “Vogue” is memorizing. The rendition meshes art with dance, at the same time the song is moshed with “4 Minutes” effectively, but the best moment is house-piano breakdown, making you miss the Madonna-Pettitone days.

Madonna goes deep into the groove with her Old School section. Heavy on the aerobics, Madonna double-dutches along to a disco version of “Into the Groove,” and seeing Madonna singing “She’s Not Me” aside drag queens dressed up like the icon from her “Material Girl,” “Vogue,” “Open Your Heart” and “Like a Virgin” videos is divalicious highlight of the show.

With all the dazzle and pizzazz, the show isn’t just eye candy. “Get Stupid,” a mix of Hard Candy tracks, makes Madonna’s political commentary abundantly clear in a video montage. The montage, which compares the likes of Hitler with John McCain, as well as putting Gahandi and Obama in the same series of those who make a positive difference in this world, received its share of controversy.

The most laid-back section of the show, the Gypsy-themed portion, lets Madonna calm things down and get back to earth. The rendition of her classic “La Isla Bonita,” along with “Miles Away” and “You Must Love Me” show Madonna at her most sincere and honest as a performer. Perhaps the most beautiful portion of the show, “Devil Wouldn’t Recognize You” has Madonna surrounded by digitalizing gushes of pouring water as the singer performs the emotional tapestry.

The queen of re-invention, Madonna updates most her classics for the show. “Like a Prayer” gets the 2008 techno makeover as it’s part of the Rave section, and while the mix is a success in turning the pop classic into a club anthem, the truth is Madonna hasn’t done the song justice in a live performance since Blond Ambition. This is one of the best songs of all time, by Madonna or not, and deserves a more conceptual treatment.

Both “Ray of Light” and “Borderline” get the “rock” makeover, something she has been doing since her Drowned World Tour days, and if anything, it just shows Madonna may have wanted to follow the rock route she started during her pre-fame Emmy and the Emmys days. When it comes to “Ray of Light,” it’s a shame Madonna picked this track over “Frozen” to perform at all stops . Having been part of her line up since 2001, “Ray of Light” has done worn out its welcome.

By request of the Argentinean audience, the queen sings one of her signature tracks “Like a Virgin,” and while Madonna openly hates the songs, she still sells the song like it’s 1984. Like “ Holiday ,” “La Isla Bonita,” “Vogue,” Like a Prayer,” and many others, Madonna’s classics never age. If there was a sour piece of the show, it would be “4 Minutes.” There is just too much going on in the song production-wise to translate to a stage show convincingly. Putting back the dulce flavor, the tour’s closer, “Give It 2 Me” takes Madonna back to the clubs, the rave rendition heats things up as only Madonna can.

A bit too heavy on the reliance of projection screens, the show loses just a bit of the personal feel you had with The Girlie Show and The Drowned World Tour And the “cameos” via pre-recorded video of Kayne West and Justin Timberlake are nothing, if useless. This is a Madonna show, and including them, even on screen, is like having the peasants on the side of the queen. And on the topic of downers, it’s time for Madonna to bring Donna De Lory and Nikki Harris back on stage. While her dancers have talent, the connection between the diva and them is virtually non-existent.

The actual DVD captures every second of the deliciousness, even enhancing some scenes at times, making the show look more like a music video than a concert, but that’s no complaint. The behind-the-scenes documentary has the same feel as her legendary film Truth or Dare, but other than that, there are no noteworthy bonus features. The bonus audio disc makes you miss the show, as even Madonna fans will admit her vocals are not the main draw. Kudos to her though, for including the live version of “Like a Prayer,” a fan-favorite, to the disc.

When the curtain closes, this tour may be sweet, but it’s not as satisfying as past shows Blond Ambition and The Girlie Show. Even with that said, Madonna puts on a show like no other. With her mix of unstoppable energy, classic songs with updated arrangements, musical theatrics, and designer duds, Madonna remains queen of the concert. Now if only M would released Blond Ambition and The Re-Invention Tour on DVD.

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