"Madonna: Sticky and Sweet Tour" is a DVD and CD release which captures Madonna onstage in Buenos Aires, Argentina during her tour in 2008. This has a release date of 29/03/10 but as I pre-ordered mine from Amazon I was lucky enough to receive my copy today and having just spent two hours immersed in the world of Madonna on tour I wanted to write a review while the experience was still fresh in my mind.
"Sticky and Sweet" was Madonna's eighth tour which began in 2008, due to its popularity and demand for tickets Madonna announced that she was taking the show back on the road in 2009 where additional European dates were added to the schedule. Over the course of 42 shows in 32 countries she played to an estimated 3.5 million people and after its conclusion in 2009 had grossed a total of $408 million making it the highest ever grossing tour by a solo artist and the second highest grossing tour in history.
Madonna has in the past released DVD's of the majority of her tours (Blonde Ambition and Reinvention being the only two that never gained a commercial release) and for fans of the singer they provide an opportunity to see just how much she has developed and changed over the years. I was fortunate enough to see her live on 2 occasions back in 1987 during the "Who's that Girl" tour and later in 1990 during "Blonde Ambition" but due to ticket prices and other factors I have been unable to attend the later ones. DVDs therefore are the only way I have managed to keep up to date with her live performances and this "Sticky and Sweet" live DVD ranks as one of my favourite shows that I have seen of hers.
Drawing heavily from her 2008 number one album "Hard Candy" and including some oldies Madonna produced a breathtaking show packed with amazing dance routines, pyrotechnics and visual treats that are captured here. The show is broken down into 4 segments which each have their own theme and for the purpose of this review I will outline each segment and what songs were performed:
Opening the show with an animated 3D representation of a pinball machine Madonna appears on an elaborate "M" emblazoned throne singing "Candy Shop" and gives a faithful version of the track with strong, clear vocals and featuring her dancers in bondage gear this is a strong opening to the show and Madonna looks fabulous. Fading into "Beat Goes On" Madonna and her dancers play around on a vintage car whilst Pharrell Williams and Kanye West appear behind them on giant screens.
"Human Nature" is next and features a video of Britney Spears in an elevator banging the walls and becoming agitated, as Madonna gets towards the end of the song Britney is heard exclaiming "It's Britney, Bitch" over Madonna's lyrics and the crowd goes wild. Dressed to kill with a tall, silver top hat on Madonna looks resplendent and completely at home on stage and the crowd gets louder as the opening bars to "4 minutes" are played. Teasing us though Madonna launches into "Vogue" and uses the hook of "4 minutes" to breathe new life into one of her classic songs, this makes it sound exciting and different. The crowd again responds with cheers as the stage is plunged into darkness while Madonna leaves to get ready for the next segment.
During this period the screens display Madonna dressed in boxing gear while "Die Another Day" is played over the speakers, her dancers entertain the crowd with a choreographed boxing match and before you know it, she's back!
Standing on top of what appears to be gigantic speakers "Into the Groove" begins and Madonna skips with a rope while singing live, always a crowd pleaser this song Madonna encourages the audience to sing along with her as she skips up and down the stage. Flashing cartoon artwork, strobe lighting and a general sense of fun seem to encourage the audience to be even louder than before and this is one of the best performances of this song that I have ever seen her perform live.
Slowing the tempo down slightly sees the screens behind rhythmically mimic a beating heart as Madonna performs "Heartbeat" a track from the "Hard Candy" album before strapping on an electric guitar and begins to belt out a rock interpretation of the 1980's classic ballad "Borderline". This is the first time (to my knowledge) since "The Virgin Tour" back in 1985 that "Borderline" has been performed live on tour and its rock treatment gives it an edge that was never there before, Madonna snarls her way through the song and not since she did a similar rock treatment to "Material Girl" back on the "Reinvention Tour" has a classic Madonna song sounded so different.
A favourite track of mine from "Hard Candy" is next; "She's not me" featuring images from past videos playing out on the screens behind Madonna while four of her female dancers dressed in iconic outfits from Madonna's past are posed like mannequins. The black cone bra and blonde curly hair from "Vogue" the Marilyn Monroe inspired red dress from "Material Girl" the black, pointy Basque from "Open your Heart" and the attention-grabbing white wedding dress from "Like a Virgin" are all there and Madonna ridicules them all declaring that even though they look like her they are not the real deal.
Concluding this segment is "Music" featuring elements of "Put your hands up for Detroit" and "Last night a DJ saved my life" and sees Madonna deliver another faithful performance of another fan favourite which features another energetic dance routine.
Whilst Madonna is offstage we have an interlude in which a mash-up of "Rain" and The Eurhythmics "Here comes the rain again" accompany an animated video on the big screens, when that ends the third act begins:
A circular tube-like video screen is surrounding a piano centre stage which Madonna is sat on top of wearing a black cape "Devil Wouldn't recognise you" begins and while she is performing the song the video plays images of crashing waves and rainfall. A no-frills performance of this song, just Madonna and the piano and its haunting lyrics and music is a gentle introduction to this section of the show. "Spanish Lessons" follows with Madonna being accompanied by male flamenco dancer before she takes centre stage, alone with a classical guitar and sings "Miles Away". The crowd loves "Miles Away" as she delivers a note-perfect, faultless version of the "Hard Candy" album track, her voice fills the arena she is playing in and the crowd sings along with the chorus. This is another standout performance of the whole show for me and one that I really enjoyed.
Going back to another classic "La Isla Bonita" begins and Madonna is accompanied onstage by a Ukrainian Gypsy group who all together give an energetic, folk version of the song peppered with Spanish style and lyrics. The folk group then give a performance of "Doli Doli" before ending their performance and leaving Madonna to talk to the audience.
Being in Buenos Aries where Evita was filmed Madonna references this to the crowd and declares her love for the Argentinean audience before she sings "You must Love Me" and "Don't Cry for me Argentina" to them which the crowd go completely wild for. Gypsy segment is over and Madonna leaves the stage and we watch a damning video montage featuring global disasters and world leaders whilst "Get Stupid" plays. This is the first time Madonna has been overly controversial in the show and the audience react accordingly with cheers and boos, for me it was a bit of a preachy moment which is typically Madonna but a bit of an odd inclusion if I'm being honest.
Anyway, that over and the final segment begins, and if the audience hadn't been treated to a spectacular already then they were in for a treat with the final six songs:
The opening bars of "4 Minutes" begin and on screen Timbaland and Justin Timberlake appear while Madonna delivers her lyrics to their pre-recorded ones. Another energetic number with Madonna swirling round the stage on large speakers on wheels, the pace does not let up for a minute when a brand new, rave version of "Like a Prayer" begins. Another reinvention of a classic Madonna song, this is nearly unrecognisable in its new form with strobe lighting flooding the arena and electronic beats pounding in the audiences ears. Donning an electric guitar again Madonna then introduces "Ray of Light" and delivers a dazzling performance of the song which always goes down well with any audience.
After asking for audience participation and suggestions for the next song ("an oldie but a goodie") Madonna agrees to perform a verse and a single chorus of "Like a Virgin" before launching into a rock version of "Hung Up" which certainly gets the crowd on their feet and rocking along to. Finally, after nearly 2 hours on stage Madonna closes the show with "Give it 2 Me" and encourages the audience to sing along with her.
Throughout the show you can't help but notice just how at ease Madonna is on stage and how comfortable she is performing, I wouldn't like to say if all the vocals are truly live all of the time believing that a few of the songs are lip-synched to live backing tracks (especially the more energetic, intense dance numbers), but this does not in any way detract from the spectacular that you are witnessing.
The whole show appears polished, technically brilliant and Madonna, her dancers and band all appear to be having a great time which in turn translates to the audience who are in raptures at some points throughout the show. By including some classic fan favourites in the track listing Madonna ensures that old fans and new ones alike all get a show that is memorable for all the right reasons. I personally wasn't keen on the messages featured during the "Get Stupid" Medley as Madonna can come across as a bit too self-righteous at times despite her best intentions and whereas this is nothing new for Madonna (The "Safe Sex Saves Lives" mantra that came with the AIDS scare back in the 80's appeared on the screens frequently during her 1987 world tour) I do feel that Madonna opens herself up to a level of criticism that sometimes she could prevent.
That said, this is still a remarkable show from Madonna that shows her at her best when she is performing to an audience, her fans have always been loyal to her and long standing ones such as myself can see just how far she has come from the early days where her live voice was weak and breathless during "The Virgin Tour" of 1985.
I realise that this has been a long review, and I thank you if you have had the patience to read it up to now but I felt I had to give an idea of what to expect if you are thinking of buying this CD and DVD collection. A live pop concert really needs to be experienced rather than read about and this DVD gives you the chance to see Madonna at her best when on stage performing her songs in front of thousands of people who love her and the energy that is produced from both sides is electrifying.
As mentioned this is a CD and DVD collection, the CD lifts 13 live tracks from the DVD so would be perfect to transfer to an IPod or to be listened to in the car. The DVD also features a 30 minute special featuring Behind-the-Scenes footage of the show and together they make for a fantastic collection that is sure to be a must-have item for all fans and followers alike.
For me the package gets a perfect 5/5 dooyoo star rating and comes highly recommended, this will be in the shops on Monday and is available online from Amazon for £11.93 but the price may vary on its official release date. Thank you once again for reading my longest ever review; I do hope it has been of benefit to anyone considering buying this CD and DVD collection.
Please also note that this review may appear on Ciao under the same user-name.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Candy Shop Medley
2 Beat Goes On Medley
3 Human Nature
5 She's Not Me
7 Devil Wouldn't Recognize You
8 Spanish Lesson
9 La Isla Bonita
10 You Must Love Me
11 Get Stupid Medley
12 Like A Prayer
13 Give It 2 Me
Disc #2 Tracklisting
1 Sweet Machine, The
2 Candy Shop Medley
3 Beat Goes On Medley
4 Human Nature
6 Die Another Day
7 Into The Groove
10 She's Not Me
12 Rain/Here Comes The Rain Again
13 Devil Wouldn't Recognize You
14 Spanish Lesson
15 Miles Away
16 La Isla Bonita
17 Me Darava/Doli Doli
18 You Must Love Me
19 Don't Cry For Me Argentina
20 Get Stupid Medley
21 4 Minutes
22 Like A Prayer
23 Ray Of Light
24 Like A Virgin
25 Hung Up Medley
26 Give It 2 Me
27 Behind The Scenes