MADONNA at Air Canada Centre, Wednesday, September 12. Rating: NNN
Few pop stars play the role of villain as convincingly as Madonna. Reclining with a bottle of hooch in a mini-motel room set during the first of two gigs at the Air Canada Centre this week, the 54-year-old gleefully gunned down a series of masked male assailants as ear-splitting shots of Gang Bang rang out and bloody brain matter splattered across giant video screens.
Guns and God - two of America's favourite preoccupations - were big themes in the opening moments of the Material Girl's MDNA tour, which nicely balanced the elaborate art direction with unfettered fun. While Madonna can be counted on to bounce across a series of hydraulic video screens flanked by thunder-thigh-ed back-up dancers in Gregorian monk get-ups and sparkly stilettos, she's equally captivating at the foot of the stage leading fans in a sing a long of Holiday.
Where she gets in trouble is tinkering with her older hits. Minus the ABBA sample, dance floor anthem Hung Up sounded dried up and watching Like A Virgin performed as a sultry torch ballad from atop a piano was tantamount to cruel and unusual pop star punishment.
On the up side, the jubilant drumline reworking of Express Yourself and high-octane majorette dance routine was a charming, as was a percussive re-arrangement of Open Your Heart by Basque trio group Kalakan.