Madonna Kicks Off U.S. Dates for MDNA Tour

Madonna at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia

On Tuesday, August 28, Madonna brought her MDNA Tour to Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center; it was the premiere US date for the production that comes on the heels of her twelfth studio album, also called MDNA. The tour schedule includes over 40 shows in North America.

The concert opened with church-themed imagery that led to "Girls Gone Wild", then segued into more tracks from Madonna's MDNA album presented with a surprisingly dark tone and hyper-processed vocals. The first few numbers utilized guns and graphic violence, most notably during "Gang Bang", with Madonna "killing" a dancer while singing “Bang bang shot you dead, shot my lover in the head, now my lover is dead and I have no regrets”, while blood splattered on a huge video screen behind the live action.

Madonna and dancers as majorettes
The show took a lighter turn when a baton twirling Madonna sang "Express Yourself" in majorette number backed by a drumline, some of whom were suspended high above the stage. To the crowd's delight, she threw in a few lines of Lady Gaga's "Born this Way" - a song that allegedly borrows from "Express Yourself" in both melody and message - and summed up the Madonna vs. Gaga debate with a title from her 2008 Hard Candy album: "She's Not Me".

At the mid-point of the concert Madonna paused to talk to the crowd about the show's late 10:25 pm start (citing last minute changes and stating that she and the audience “deserved perfection”), and serious topics including homophobia and the incarceration of punk band Pussy Riot in Russia. She also talked about meeting the Basque vocal trio Kalakan at her recent birthday party. Their lush harmonies were featured throughout the night during numbers including "Open Your Heart", and on "Masterpiece", the song from Madonna’s film W.E. that famously inspired a rivalry with Elton John after it beat his "Hello, Hello" from Gnomeo & Juliet at the Golden Globe Awards in 2012. That number was the evening’s best showcase for the pop icon's vocal chops and songwriting talent.

Special guests performed with Madonna via video: M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj on “Give Me all Your Luvin’”, Lil Wayne on “Revolver”, and Minaj on “I Don’t Give A”, in which she delivers the line, “There's only one queen and that's Madonna, bitch!”

Although there were obviously some younger fans in the crowd, most of the audience seemed to be in the 40-and-over age group. While they were predictably more enthusiastic during classic Madonna hits such as “Vogue” and “Like a Virgin”, they were also on their feet singing along to new material like "Turn Up the Radio", a testament to both her musical legacy and her ongoing career as a hit-maker. Madonna herself appeared ageless as she sang, danced and played guitar like there’s no tomorrow, at least not one without her. Long live the queen.

Photos ©Scott Weiner 2012

Posted on Wednesday, August 29, 2012 3:22 PM