If you had told 1980s me that, in the distant future, I’d see Duran Duran once and Madonna twice in a single week, I would have been mind-blowingly happy … but not totally surprised. I always promised myself that when I graduated from high school, I’d move to New York, where I would find like-minded people and have all the fun that I didn’t have during my childhood in New Jersey. I DID IT, BITCHES!
So, two days after this month’s Duran Duran show, I went to Madonna’s Rebel Heart Tour at Madison Square Garden with my concert-going friend Jessie. We had floor seats, and my inner concert-photojournalist was overjoyed to find myself closer to the Queen that I’d ever been in the 30 years since I skipped my high-school prom to catch her at Radio City Music Hall. (Sad but true: I have no memory of her opening act — a little group called the Beastie Boys.)
Jessie was impressed by the audience, which included 7′-tall drag queens in sequined evening gowns and dudes in matador and bull costumes that were inspired by the theme of Madonna’s “Living for Love” video.
There are critics who complain that Madonna is old and “irrelevant.” GTFOH. People have said that Madonna was over since her career started. (In 1985, Paul Grein, an editor at Billboard, said, “Cyndi Lauper will be around for a long time. Madonna will be out of the business in six months. Her image has completely overshadowed her music.”) And let’s see if the “relevant” stars of today can sell out a venue like the Garden 30 years from now and have the crowd on its feet for the whole show. (By the way, Pitchfork’s T. Cole Rachel wrote a nice piece on Madonna’s lasting relationship with her gay fans.)
I like that Madonna did something unusual by having comedian Amy Schumer open for her New York shows. In her highlarious routine, Amy mused, “Who better to open for Madonna than me?” and then answered herself, “LITERALLY, ANY BAND!”
A video posted by Wendy Brandes (@wendybrandes) on
Another thing that was different about Madonna during this tour was that she looked soooo happy!
Usually — and I haven’t missed a single tour — Madonna looks more determined than playful. That makes sense, because she’s working hard. Madonna puts on huge shows that are entirely unlike anyone else’s. I’ve seen plenty of the pop divas who have emerged in Madonna’s wake. Some of them clearly spend a fortune on costumes, visuals, special effects and choreography, and they still can’t match Madonna. It’s not enough to hire all the best help. The artist has to have a personal vision that brings all the elements together, and that’s what Madonna has. As Jessie said after, “That’s the best show I’ve ever seen … and you know, I’ve been to SHOWS.” (If you think I go to a lot of concerts, multiply that by a factor of 20; that’s how many shows Jessie goes to.)
At this show, everything ran perfectly, as usual, but Madonna seemed totally relaxed. I think she was enjoying her accomplishments and longevity. She mentioned several times that it had been 30 years since she first played the Garden. Later, she cooed, “It’s lonely at the top … but it ain’t crowded!”
I keep thinking of the phrase “watch the throne,” which was the title of Jay Z and Kanye West’s 2011 joint album. Don’t even bother watching Madonna’s throne, y’all. You’re never going to get close to it.
I didn’t have a matador costume available, but I still wanted to make a fashion statement for the concert, so I went with the defective G-Lish feather top that I got from Patricia Field this summer. The one good thing about having a top that’s disintegrating is that I don’t have to be all precious about wearing it.
What Wendy Wore to Madonna Concert #1
Molting feather top: G-Lish, from Patricia Field (2015)
Shorts: Castelbajac (2013)
Shoes: Prada (2011)
Leather wrist warmers: From Tae Ashida (2015)
Heart earrings: Original 1980s jewelry
I love those wrist warmers! I got them in Paris this summer. MrB and I were doing some last-minute poking around before heading for the airport and I saw these in the window of a store called Tae Ashida. I got a pair in black too, which you’ll see in my next post on Madonna at Barclays. I did say I went to two shows, you know!
You can see all my best photos of Madonna at the Garden here.