Madonna: Sticky & Sweet Tour
[Three and a half stars]
Directed by Nathan Rissman
Madonna’s immensely successful 2008-2009 Sticky & Sweet tour in promotion of her last studio album Hard Candy covered an exhaustive list of eighty five locations through North America, South America, Europe, finally ending in Israel. For the DVD, Madonna chose to showcase her performance in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she performed after a gap of 13 years. Watching this film, it is clear as to why she might have chosen Buenos Aires of so many destinations. The audience – an ardent gathering of Madonna worshippers – are unconditional in their love for her and she likewise reciprocates with one of her most scintillating performances.
The incredible Jamie King directed this show for the stage, and he delivers what could easily be Madonna’s live magnum opus. With an opulent set to work with – a maze of dazzling screens that moved and changed shape – an impeccable and enthusiastic dance crew (which sometimes even steals the show from the pop diva herself) and spectacular choreography, King rolls out a grandiloquent musical, fit for a queen. The show frames Madonna’s musings with theatrical zeal and exquisite aesthetics and even while it gets pretty steamy it never comes across as vulgar or tacky. With a well toned figure at 50 years of age, Madonna, forever the trendsetter, struts her stuff in S&M chic – spandex, fish net stockings, pantyhose, bedroom lingerie and what have you. Erotica, as always, is the key here and Madonna plays the provocateur perfectly; you’ll never see throngs of men gush and squeal in the audience as you do on this film. It’s a time far removed from her controversial ‘Like a Virgin’– but she still pushes the envelope further, even further than her much younger peers would. There’s still the grind, the pelvic thrusts, the wielding of anything and everything as a phallic symbol – all of it is an essential part of her choreography. Then, of course, she has to replay the famous girl on girl kiss, though for lack of Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera she just plants a kiss on one of her female crew members.
The first segment of this show, dubbed the “Pimp” sequence, continues its parade of erotica through ‘Hard Candy,’ ‘Human Nature’ and the cult classic ‘Vogue.’ The next segment rolls like a hip cardio workout in colourful street fashion, which displays work of deceased graffiti artist (and Madonna’s close friend) Keith Haring as the back drop. Madonna’s collaborators on her latest songs Kanye West and Pharrel Williams (‘Hard make an The gigantic screens also feature larger than life video snippets from collaborative artists – ‘Hard Candy’ (Kanye West and Pharrel Williams) and 4 Minutes (Timbaland and Justin Timberlake) – which add a dimension of star power to the setting.
Moving on Madonna gets colourful, soulful and dark. The setting switches through oriental/eastern influences on ‘Rain,’ to a boxing sequence on ‘Die Another Day’ and funereal gloom on ‘Devil Wouldn’t Recognise You’ eventually finishing up with a Spanish fiesta. With ‘La Isla Bonita’ Madonna’s cheery utopian island is recreated as the show turns into a riotous celebration. There is a splendid interlude where a professional Spanish dancer engages with a saraband, while Madonna steps aside to let a few Spanish singers cover a traditional number.
Madonna gets in touch with her activist side on ‘Time is Right Now,’ a subtle tribute to America’s new face of change in Barack Obama and other world leaders/peace brokers. And the most predictable moment of the show follows with Madonna’s felicitous dedication ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.’ It’s a dramatic high for this ecstatic reunion – as though the song were written solely for this occasion. Madonna closes this thrilling set with her new-age pop on ‘Give it 2 Me’ – unstoppable, inimitable, she sets the stage alight with her untiring fervor and untamable ferocity. The show keeps one enthralled through the compelling treatment of every song and Madonna’s high-energy performances and staying power – it’s a film that purely entertains. These two hours of song and dance is a striking celebration of an unchallenged star.