It's hard to believe that tonight's show at the Aviva Stadium is Madonna's first ever concert in Dublin, and only her second in Ireland across her 30-year career. She did remind us that 'the last time I played here it rained, and tonight I ask everyone to pray that the rain will stop'. It didn't, but ever the professional she didn't let it interfere with her performance either.
Opening the show with the recent single 'Girls Gone Wild', and continuing with album track 'Gang Bang' the stage set was a room in the Paradiso Motel and looked like a scene lifted from a Tarantino movie, especially the blood splatters as she pranced around the stage waving a gun and shooting everyone in her wake.
'Papa Don't Preach' was the first taste of the classics and for this Madonna walked out to the front of the stage, unprotected from the rain, and at one stage, even took a jacket from an audience member and held it above her head without missing a note. 'Hung Up' and 'I Don't Give A' followed, before she changed into a cheerleader costume for 'Express Yourself', cleverly including snippets of Lady GaGa's 'Born This Way'. The cheerleading continued with 'Give Me All Your Luvin' and current single 'Turn Up The Radio', which sounded fantastic - much better in the live arena than on the album - while 'Open Your Heart' followed in a stripped down version almost unrecognisable from the original.
Next she introduced her three Spanish male drummers to the crowd. 'I was on holiday last year and for my birthday these guys sang for me'. They accompanied her on 'Masterpiece' which, stripped down to just percussion and acoustic guitars, sounded beautiful and was easily one of the highlights of the night. When Madonna does ballads well, they sound fantastic.
As the rain hammered down she continued with 'Vogue', but lost momentum when she inexplicably chose to follow it with the less well known 'Candy Shop' which quickly dampened the crowds enthusiasm, as if the rain wasn't enough. A strip-tease accompanied 'Human Nature/Like A Virgin' with Madonna walking to the front of the stage in the pouring rain and standing there in bra and panties, a sight which was well worth the admission price on its own. In typical Irish fashion the crowd roared 'Off! Off! Off! while one fan took the opportunity to shout 'fair play Madge you've got great tits' which had the audience in hysterics, even if she didn't bow to their demands!
With the show now nearing its conclusion we got two more new tracks, 'I'm Addicted' and 'I'm A Sinner' before another highlight in the form of 'Like A Prayer' with a choir of backing vocals and everybody dancing and singing along. Thanking the Irish crowd for their thirty years of support Madonna finally finished the show with 'Celebration' which had her whole crew in party dance mood as everyone leapt around the stage.
This was my third Madonna show and I knew what to expect: no real crowd interaction, a scripted speech and a static setlist that's the same at every show. She does need to drop the songs, like 'Revolver', that were hits in America and not this side of the water and she'd do well to finish the show with 4 or 5 classics to send the crowd home in a frenzy. Having said that, she is almost 54, still making some great pop music, and still causing a commotion with contemporaries half her age. Based on this performance she's still the Queen of Pop.
DUBLIN AVIVA STADIUM, 24/7/12
Girls Gone Wild / Revolver / Gang Bang / Papa Don't Preach / Hung Up / I Don't Give A / Express Yourself / Give Me All Your Luvin / Turn Up The Radio / Open Your Heart / Masterpiece / Vogue / Human Nature / Like A Virgin / I'm Addicted / I'm A Sinner / Like A Prayer / Celebration
See Madonna's OFFICIAL WEBSITE for the full list.
Review and photograph by Mick Lynch.
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