Review: Madonna at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin

Original article posted on the Hot Press website.

It rained but still, she came. What started as drizzle quickly turned into a sustained shower and it was with wrinkled fingers and drenched to the bone that fans greeted the long awaited First Lady of Pop. And she meant business.

Toting guns and blowing out the brains of acrobatic dancers-turned-killers while swigging whiskey, it was clear Madonna is neither too old nor too tame to want to shock. If the gloopy brain matter splattered on screen wasn’t gross enough, the sustained sound of shattering limbs accompanying her posse of contortionists later on in the show was sure to repulse even the most unfazed.

Madonna did it all first. Long before the Lady Gagas and Beyonces of this world, she wove a myth around her personality, sustaining it with mega-shows at which fans could worship at the altar of her greatness. She may be coming up on 54 but she’s jumped on the modern thumping electro bandwagon with gusto.

A master of the workout choreography, she’s down with the backside flashing and the sexual innuendo. Hell, she invented it and she’s not about to let the young pups of today forget it, cleverly weaving in Lady Gaga’s ‘Born this way’ and ‘She’s Not Me’ into ‘Express Yourself’ to prove she was doing it all already when her competition was hardly out of nappies.

Madonna’s secret is hard work. She’s a very average singer, a dismal actor and a terribly wooden dancer. Most of her moves, especially in heels, ranged from the awkward to the downright embarrassing: when you’ve got the body of an olympic athlete, mincing while thrusting looks like you’re lining up to throw the discus and writhing on the floor looks more like a tragic accident than foreplay.

Worse, her couple of attempts to fool the public into thinking she is a guitar playing rock chick were brazenly fake: she could just about pluck the one string at the right time.

But she put her back into it, concentrating hard on each step, leaping, twirling, crawling in the rain, never slipping up or slacking, never slowing the pace and somehow managed to outshine the incredible talent she surrounds herself with just by being Madonna.

Not even the gargantuan stage show – all moving parts that just kept coming as though emerging from the bottom of Mary Poppins’ bag – or the fact that the venue was not to capacity (with fans on the ground bizarrely categorised into the ‘Chosen Few’, a big empty space and then the commoners) could upstage her steely determination and her commanding presence.

Her audience was secretly hoping for classic hits, of which there were thankfully a handful. A stellar rendition of ‘Like a Prayer’, all choirs and lights and fans dancing in the rain, was pure stadium performance gold. But it was Madonna’s night and she is more into keeping herself relevant than basking in the glory of yesteryear.

She’s the ultimate professional: comes in, does the job to perfection and leaves without wasting anyone’s time, above all her own. And if it’s warmth and affection you’re looking for, I suggest you adopt a kitten.

And just for fun:

We caught the epic moment when a fan butchered the chorus to Like a Prayer. Sorry for laughing mate, but I’d stick with the day job if I were you:

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About monicaheck
Monica Heck is a bilingual freelance writer and journalist based in Dublin, Ireland.

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