She took her time but finally the MDNA tour, which finished at the end of last year, has been released on DVD. It’s over a year since I had seen the show in person (my review), and while in theory I had a great position, I didn’t have a great view and I think a lot of the spectacular visuals were lost on me a bit.
Unfortunately I still feel that way a bit, after the headache-inducing direction and editing on this one. For most of the first half, the transitions between shots are so rapid-fire that I felt like I was having a seizure. Far from capturing the energy of the show, it just made it so hard to tell what was going on. I found that a great shame considering how much goes into the choreography and visuals.
Given a nice stable shot of the stage, the view is obscured anyway by more visuals superimposed over the screen. Then there is the endless parade of Madonna loons, the freakier and more flamboyant the better, it seems. Cringey.
Now I’m not going to say I didn’t enjoy the DVD, but I just felt like it squandered a lot of the highlights. The weaker parts (Candy Shop/Erotica, Hung Up) saw me checking my phone wearily. The vocals were something else … after the first three songs – Girl Gone Wild, Revolver and Gang Bang – I wondered if she was only going to use the vocoder, it really was beyond a joke. That improved towards the end, though I think that autotuner never quite got tuned out. Nor did the constant dull roar of the audience that quickly became irritating white noise.
Oddly the Basque section seemed to work quite well, I didn’t remember enjoying it that much at the time. Open your heart and Masterpiece both got decent airings out of this. The tour was as strong as the new material I think, and while I really like MDNA, few moments really did the business. Girl Gone Wild and I’m Addicted in particular were pretty great. But that left a reliance on the back catalogue moments, fine if she could leave well enough alone.
Hung Up was sucked dry of fun and energy, and even Vogue felt a bit flat. But the torch-song reimagining of Like a Virgin, and the straight-up original mixes of Like a Prayer and Express yourself (complete with Gaga twist) stood up well.
It’s Madonna, so I will always enjoy her stuff, but for me this just fell a bit flat. The editing and vocals only amplified what I felt about the tour already I think. I watch the Confessions Tour DVD and think “how did we get from there to here?”. Watch that instead if you haven’t already.