Madonna dazzles the audience on her all-over-the-place “Madame X” tour. (Courtesy Stufish)

Madonna dazzles the audience on her all-over-the-place “Madame X” tour. (Courtesy Stufish)

Madonna’s Madame X comes alive, rises

Pop diva takes control in ‘intimate’ Golden Gate Theatre

Madonna’s been using the word paradox to describe her adventurous 2019 studio album “Madame X” and so indeed is her current concert tour, which closed a three-night engagement at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Theatre on Tuesday.

Although the show’s setting was smaller than the arenas she’s filled during her decades as the world’s biggest pop star, it was hardly an intimate or casual affair. True, she chatted with the audience a bit, got a guy named Brad (a drill sergeant from Kansas City in the front) to give her a swig of warm beer and took a single Polaroid selfie, which she sold to another fellow for $4,000, with the money going to charity.

In a welcome nod to theater tradition, photos were not allowed; fans had to lock their phones into bags provided at the entry which were opened upon departure.

Paradoxically both charming and offputting, Madame X made demands of her audience. She asked if they were paying attention, told them to sit the f— down, and, after being distracted by doors at the back of the theater opening, queried, “Did you enjoy this fado club, those who stayed in the room?”

The fado café, her re-creation of her time spent as a soccer mom in Portugal, where she met local musicians and fell in love with their artistry, was a highlight in the middle of the two-and-a-half hour show (which started a half-hour late), a sometimes murky mix of performance art, politics and song.

The segment included the evening’s most joyous number, the call-and-response “Batuka,” featuring the gorgeous, dynamic, singing and hand-drumming, all-woman ensemble Orquestra Batukadeiras from Cape Verde.

“Killers Who Are Partying,” a solemn ode to those who are disenfranchised or facing discrimination, had some Portuguese lyrics, as did the pop-flavored “Crazy,” with accordion.

Singing “Sodade” and accompanying herself on guitar, Madonna explained that the song, popularized by Cesária Évora and sung in Creole, was about longing. Moving to Colombia, Madonna and company performed the catchy dance tune “Medellin,” then closed the club section with the introspective “Extreme Occident.”

The easygoing café was a big contrast to the jam-packed, high-concept start: a silhouetted character typing out James Baldwin’s credo “Artists are here to disturb the peace” as shots were fired, followed by the anti-gun disco-y “God Control,” a wild set piece with Madonna dressed as a founding father facing off with cops wearing riot gear, images of the American flag and video of gun violence. Whew!

“Dark Ballet,” the second number, was even more out there, with Joan of Arc references, religious garb and battles with dancers in gas masks reminiscent of the mice in “Nutcracker,” complete with an electronic alteration of Tchaikovsky’s familiar melody.

A jazzy, percussive version of “Human Nature” from 1994, one of a handful of non-“Madame X” tunes, had shadow images on the back wall and a throng of girls, including Madonna’s young daughters Stella, Estere and Mercy James, serving up MeToo era sentiments as Madge stated, “I’m not your bitch.”

There was an a cappella sing-along of “Express Yourself,” a too short rendition of “Papa Don’t Preach” and a noir-themed version of “Vogue,” with Madonna and dancers in blond wigs and trench coats.

Derided on its 2003 release, the busy rap-filled, social statement “American Life” — wearing her Madame X eye-patch, Madonna played guitar — sounded great and urgent.

“Frozen” was simple and beautiful, sung solo in front of a striking black-and-white video of her daughter Lourdes dancing that filled the theater’s back screen. Next, Madonna’s whole congregation, dressed in colorful flowing robes, convened for the positively upbeat “Come Alive.”

Back in a black robe studded with crosses for the penultimate “Like a Prayer,” Madonna had the audience singing along with religious fervor, before closing with the inspirational “I Rise.”

The tune began, accompanied by powerful video of Parkland demonstrators, and closed as fans on one side of the theater basked in their idol’s glow as Madame X herself exited down an aisle (letting people touch her!), with markedly minimal fanfare.

Pop MusicTheater

 

Madonna plays piano on the tune “Future” in her “Madame X” show. (Courtesy Stufish)

Madonna plays piano on the tune “Future” in her “Madame X” show. (Courtesy Stufish)

Just Posted

A collaborative workspace for a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) in Coordinape is pictured at a recent blockchain meet up at Atlas Cafe. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Business without bosses: San Francisco innovators battle bureaucracy with blockchain

‘The next generation will work for three DAOs at the same time’

Plan Bay Area 2050 is an expansive plan guiding the region’s growth and development over the next three decades. The regional plan addresses progressive policy priorities like a universal basic income and a region-wide rent cap, alongside massive new spending on affordable housing and transportation infrastructure. (Shutterstock)
Plan Bay Area 2050: Analyzing an extensive regional plan that covers the next 30 years

Here are the big ticket proposals in the $1.4 trillion proposal

Pregnant women are in the high-risk category currently prioritized for booster shots in San Francisco. (Unai Huizi/Shutterstock)
What pregnant women need to know about COVID and booster shots

Inoculations for immunosuppressed individuals are recommended in the second trimester

Examiner reporter Ben Schneider drives an Arcimoto Fun Utility Vehicle along Beach Street in Fisherman’s Wharf on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Could San Francisco’s tiny tourist cruisers become the cars of the future?

‘Fun Utility Vehicles’ have arrived in The City

Most Read