Crucifixes, Leather and Hits

Madonna's Confessions Tour kicks off in L.A.

BARRY WALTERS

Check out special set lists, tour dates, live photos and more.

The dancing queen of spectacle concerts, Madonna has the unique ability to transform garish production values into powerful autobiography. The opening Los Angeles date of Madonna's Confessions Tour wasn't a reinvention so much as it was a refinement of the elaborately choreographed, sexually provocative extravaganza she created with 1990's Blond Ambition Tour. As its title implies, Confessions is very much all about Madonna.

After making her descent to the stage in a giant disco ball, Madonna sang a medley of ''Future Lovers'' and Donna Summer's synth milestone ''I Feel Love'' in Jean-Paul Gaultier-designed equestrian drag while riding hunky male dancers similarly clad in S&M-inspired harnesses. For a ballsy, full-voiced rendition of ''Like a Virgin,'' she mounted a studded leather merry-go-round saddle as video screens flashed X-ray photos. Only Madonna could deliver a seriously hot pole dance while referencing her bone-cracking tumble from a horse on her forty-seventh birthday last August.

Less successful was her organ-laden version of ''Live to Tell,'' which found the singer strapped to a mirrored crucifix as African AIDS statistics flashed onscreen -- the show's tone darkening so suddenly that this potentially poignant image instead came across as bombast. ''Forbidden Love'' redeemed the sequence: A pair of male dancers interlocked arms in an understated, mesmerizing ritual that the singer joined.

For ''I Love New York,'' she broke out a guitar to paraphrase the slashing chords of the Stooges' ''I Wanna Be Your Dog,'' and strutted up and down her catwalk with Iggy Pop-ian abandon for ''Let It Will Be.'' Paying tribute to Saturday Night Fever, Madonna peaked the concert with an ingenious mash-up of the Trammps' classic ''Disco Inferno'' and her own ''Music.''

Throughout the show, Madonna voiced her continued dissatisfaction with fame even as she justified her own. It's an old complaint, but when Madonna celebrated her gift for substantial glitz, she seemed nearly as youthful as when her lucky star began rising a long, long time ago.

Posted Jun 01, 2006 12:00 PM


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