Madonna Reinvents Herself Yet Again with Madame X in San Francisco

in SF Concert Reviews by

I’m going to be honest here. I still don’t know who or what Madame X is supposed to be. Even though we spent 2 1/2 hours last night having Madonna explain it to us in great detail, her latest reincarnation remains somewhat of a mystery. But maybe that’s the point. It keeps us guessing and wanting more.

This method of self-promotion is the genius that is Madonna, and this latest tour is no different. From the limited tour dates in smaller venues to the dreadfully late show time (10:30 p.m. on a Tuesday night, but she really went on at 11 p.m.), what mattered most was not so much the artistic indulgence she was partaking in, but more seeing the pop icon in an intimate setting.

It was an attempt to connect with her audience in a way that she’d never done before. And as the first step towards that goal, all cellphones were banned from the venues. No phones or photos were allowed in the Golden Gate Theater. And while at first, this seemed obnoxious and excessive, in the end, it made for a more powerful connection between artist and spectator.

Photo by Stufish

Most of the entire set was comprised of Madame X songs, with some mega-hits peppered in for good measure. Songs like “Human Nature,” “Express Yourself,” “Papa Don’t Preach” and “Isla Bonita” received the most enthusiasm, even though they were heavily reinterpreted even played acapella at times.

The show itself was a potpourri of performance art, political manifestos and stand up comedy. It took us on a trip around the world. Leaving America at the start of the show, going to Columbia by way of Lisbon towards the end.

Madonna looked good for her age. At 61, I was impressed to see that she not only didn’t lip-sync but was also displaying some rather impressive dance moves. Not an easy task considering the talents of the much younger dance crew that swarmed around her. Mostly though, Mrs. Ciccone kept that sharp tongue, quick wit and loud mouth flowing like wine throughout the set.

The legendary singer cracked jokes about small penises (not that she’s ever seen any, according to her!) and Mozart music coming out of her private parts. She sold a Polaroid selfie to a nearby fan for $4000, which she then said she’d donate to charity. She even shared a beer with Brad, an army drill sergeant that she was flirting with, in her own domineering way.

The most visually impressive moment of the night came towards the end when daughter Lourdes appeared dancing on a video screen alongside her mother in the background for the song “Frozen.” It was a touching reminder that although the iconic performer has reached mythical status for most of us, to her family she’s really just a mom.

The other highlight came with the arrival of the awe-inducing all-female Orquestra Batukadeiras. A Portuguese group condemned by the church for drumming, an art form considered an act of rebellion back in their native land. It came as no surprise that the rebel at heart would choose to highlight these talented ladies. With Madam X we still feel that same rebellion from the queen of pop, who to this day marches to beat of her own drum.

Photos by Stufish courtesy of ID PR

An avid drummer whose discography includes albums on Digital Nations (a Steve Vai imprint), music critic Louis Raphael has always kept a pulse on the San Francisco music scene. After many years as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he decided to start Music in SF® as a way to showcase what the San Francisco music scene really has to offer.

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