Madonna - The Confessions Tour (Live) 
Music Disc Reviews Audio CD
Written by K L Poore   
Thursday, 01 March 2007

format:    16-bit CD
performance:    2
sound:    2
release year:    2007
label:    Warner Bros.
reviewed by:    K L Poore

Madonna has a new live album out. Yes, I know that’s an oxymoron.

And in this instance, “live” refers to: (1) a large assembly of people trying to relive the ‘80s while sitting in a colossal stadium (wishing they hadn’t wasted a couple hundred bucks), the setting in which this quote/unquote music is recorded; and, (2) most appropriate for The Confessions Tour (Live), that some of the performers on stage were indeed living, and not soulless robots. My guess is that it was probably a couple of the dancers, or the bloke in charge of M’s pitch corrector.

What on God’s green earth possessed me to plunk down my hard-earned shillings on TCT(L)? Okay, I’ll admit … I’ve been failing in my efforts to morph into a Brit and thought maybe this little beauty would be the thing to put me over the top. I mean, Ms. Ciccone has been soooooo successful at it that something like this has to work for a minor entity like me. So here I go, plunging into the world of unthinking, unfeeling, uncomplicated music, snorting whatever they snort these days and settling into a world of tired hipness and wannabe English accents.

As I begin I’m concerned that, as with the original studio recordings, not being able to see Madonna’s performance will severely distract from the music. I know that I’m going to have to force my thoughts into parts of my brain that have been reserved for future use and …

Wow! My first virtual Madonna show. At the outset I find the audience hum that’s coming over the imaginary loudspeakers annoying because I spend too much time trying to figure out whether it’s the actual audience sound, someone ripping off the Beatles by stealing the mania of 45,000 screaming girls at Shea Stadium, or merely the backstage antics of an upset Madonna being amplified, digitized and endlessly doubled until it transforms into the ear-killing noise of a squealing jet taking off from Whiney International Airport. I can’t really tell which, but I’m ready to shake my patoot like a coot.

The show opens with “Future Lovers/I Feel Love,” and Madonna descends from above in a giant glass toilet as the Donna Summer syntho-beat whips the 40-year-old crowd into a lather. That’s not to say everyone in the audience is 40, but that’s the approximate amount of time my imagination has allowed for Madonna to get over her backstage upset and start her two hours of sick cat yodeling. It is then that one of the robots (you can’t leave something like this to a human) pulls the loo’s chain and whoosh! she washes onto the stage holding a crucifix and Warren Beatty’s career. The music is going great … thanks to the guy who turned on the sequencer. He’s a true genius. The repetitious doot doot doot whaa is really starting to stir my soul. Or is that IBS?

Not soon enough it’s over and the crowd grows antsy … M’s already been through an entire song and hasn’t performed one of the big hits that had everyone doing the Cabbage Patch during the days of yore. They’re gnashing their teeth like piranhas in a bloody beef swimming pool but it’s no problem for the Maternal, um, Material Girl ‘cause it’s time for “Like a Virgin.” And it ain’t yo mama’s “Like a Virgin”! – no, this is the new super trendy tres chic Raj loves Dwayne “Hey Hey Hey” mix, complete with M’s vocals being doubled and her Evita (the film) voice lessons trotted out to their fullest effect. I’m stunned by her full four- or five-note range. I say four or five because some seem like semi in-between notes, as in Indian music. Even pitch correctors can’t hide the genius of her raga gaga!

I’m amped up like I’ve licked a Welsh toad and barely notice that there’s a few problems during “Jump.” Some of the Robots have taken her lyrics as a direct command and have leapt into the audience and begun tearing those in the front rows to shreds. A single tear fills my eye when I realize that the front rowers (those lucky bastards) might have survived if their walkers hadn’t got all tangled up in their knee-length beads. It’s not a pretty picture … but now I’ll be able to enjoy the rest of the show from the front row!

It takes all of “Confessions” to get the robots back under control (oh, so that’s why they need the humans!) and luckily there’s a boring semi-serious film distracting the rest of the crowd from what’s going on while I sneak down front. It sounds as if the people in this artful heart attacking piece are having problems fitting in to the material world and want the layered homeless thriftstore pro-ho “Lucky Star” look to come back so they can wear skirts over leggings and torn t-shirts to cover up their jumblies or something. Or maybe they just want to be able to take nude photos and not worry about shaving their big old hair jungles. I don’t know, but whatever it is I’m gripped with a deeper realization/meaning. Did I say artful? She must be winning me over.

Now in the front row, I look up to find that the show has taken on an animal theme, with a herd of dancing three-legged goat boys and a Ronco Singing Bass churning out a series of some of the lamest techno dance songs I’ve ever heard … wait a second, that’s not a Ronco Bass, it’s Madonna herself, and suddenly the songs are meaningful and oh so super! Even the pseudo-qawwali singing on “Isaac” becomes relevant and I no longer beg the robots to swoop down and eat my face off.

And then she supplies the nipple clamps that I need, as she whips out her version of the Trampps’ “Disco Inferno,” “Music Inferno.” The line that goes “Music dum bourgeoisie dum dum dum dum” is so true I feel as giddy as a guy on snorty drugs in the front row at a vapid rehash of the ‘80s concert. That is until I realize that the song is much longer than the 15- second version on the TV commercial. This version is way over seven minutes and I’m feeling sleepy. Oh, those lights. Oh, those dancing goats. Oh, those face eating robots. I just need a nap.

And suddenly my imagination turns to dreams and I miss the rest of the show, including “Lucky Star” (oh tragedy) and her best song, “Ray of Light.” I sure hope one of the imaginary blokes or birds who’ve joined me in
the front row will watch out for me during my monotony-induced sleep and leave enough money in my wallet for me to catch one of those neat red double-decker buses back to my ... um, what slang do they use in England for house?

And soon enough I awake and I’m back home with all mod cons, content in knowing that at any time I can flip on my CD player and travel back to my imaginary England and enjoy the music of Madonna’s The Confessions Tour (Live). Music. Madonna. I guess that’s an oxymoron as well.

Sound
Beware! The standard has been set for all future recordings. We reached the bottom with Rod Stewart’s last gas bag and we may never smell the likes of it again. Even this, as bad as it is, cannot glimpse the depth’s of Rod’s Still the Same – GRCOOT. On the GRCOOT scale this only sinks to a two.

The Confessions Tour (Live) was monstrous in its ability to make money and promote the star. And I guess that somewhere out there someone really believes that this is music. I’m not one of those someones.

I tried everything I could think of to elicit some kind of emotional response
out of myself with this stuff, including turning my neato Sony sound system up to 50. At 45 our wine glasses began to dance off of their perch. At 48 I had a metaphysical experience that involved Jesus’ image appearing on the refrigerator and the crying baby next door, and at 50 I realized that Rod’s secret message from last month’s review is on this Madonna CD.

I can’t really talk about the way the music sounds on TCT(L) because I didn’t hear any. There’s an hour’s worth repetitive sequenced phrases with the aforementioned cat yodeling laid over them, but they have the dynamic range of a kitten that’s fallen into a sewer. I would swear there’s a guitar on “Ray of Light” … but write that off to wishful thinking. In my head, it makes a chugga chugga noise. Angus Young has crapped better guitar sounds.

Here’s to Madonna and her ability to make the dosh. That’s the only thing to applaud on this release







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