PRELUDE: THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
Let’s just get straight to the point and mention about the elephant in the room: Yes Madonna took to the stage a tad quite late. However its been reported all over media that she was ‘four hours late’. I don’t know where the four hours came from other than perhaps it says on the ticket 8.30 PM but more about the ticket very soon.
Madonna has in the past few years on the odd off occasion and more recently has started a show a tad quite later than usual. And yes some fans have walked away feeling pissed off about it. I can see their point and that’s a fact. Her being late, well that is her thing and most Madonna fans should already know that. She operates on ‘Madonna time’. Remember she isn’t the only artist to ever start late (yes, pointing at you Rihanna)..
So what’s the fiction? Well, since the ‘Tears of a Clown’ exclusive show that Madonna performed for 1500 of her chosen fans (who won from a social media competition of posting their excited faces of Madonna coming back to Australia) its been heavily reported on the television news and in newspapers that all of her fans were in a complete uproar of waiting for over fours hours in the “pouring rain”.
Fact: it wasn’t pouring rain at all. In actual fact it had been raining all day on and off.
I arrived there at 7.30 PM and I was pretty much in the middle of the waiting queue. Now where The Forum is there is no cover shelter. So if you’re ever there when it’s raining and you’re outside waiting in line, well, there’s a very good chance you’re going to get wet.
It slightly trickled rain on & off but there was no pouring rain happening. I would know because my hair still looked FABULOUS and was wet & fizz free even at 2.30 AM! No wet hair on this hair bun (wink!).
Now I didn’t speak with the entire 1500 fans but where I was standing, I did chat with a few people around me and we all just joked about how this was common knowledge that Madonna always starts a show later then it states on the ticket. Now she doesn’t start late on every show but unfortunately she does it every so often. I agree it’s not cool but hey she is Madonna. But whilst I spoke with quite a few other fans around me, I didn’t pick up on any fury or anger. Just little jokes like, ‘well lucky I work just five minutes down the road from here. I can go straight to work after the show!’
Now what actually states on the ticket is that the gates will open at 8.30 PM. There is no mention of an exact time of when the show is going to start. No one knew. It was never announced. Everyone I guess all assumed, as did I, it would probably start around 9.30 or 10.00 PM. The standard time of when a concert starts here in Australia.
Guy Oseary, Madonna’s long time manager, was very kind and came out and spoke with a lot of the fans and said that the show was going to start around 11.30 PM and Madonna being the ultimate obsessive perfectionist that she is) was still rehearsing. I was very lucky that I got a hug from Guy Oseary when I told him that it was my birthday today (seeing a Madonna show on my birthday and hug from her manger? Best. Birthday. Ever!)
While we were all standing in the lane way, between the hours of 9.00 PM and 11.00 PM, you definitely heard Madonna rehearsing and going over certain songs again and again and again. You have to realise that Madonna hadn’t planned or rehearsed the show when she announced this exclusive free show a week ago. She was at the time overseas performing live when it was announced live on stage that she wanted to do something special for the Australian fans as it had been 23 years since she was last here and had cancelled five previous tours.
Madonna arrived in Melbourne from New Zealand at 7.30 PM on Monday 7th March and really only had two days of proper rehearsal. So maybe, we should go a little easy on the woman. I know there are still going to be some pissed off people but seriously, if you were one of the lucky ones who won tickets to a free up close & personal show with Madonna, so honey I wouldn’t be complaining. It’s a once in a life time experience that most likely is never going to happen in Australia with Madonna again. This show was not rehearsed to death like her usual stadium shows, which are planned and rehearsed months in advance. She has never done anything like this in the world, so ease up on the woman.
The doors finally opened up at 11.30 PM and fans rushed to get through The Forum doors with everyone running to get as close to the front of the stage. Every so often the crowd chanted, ‘Madonna! Madonna! Madonna!’ But everyone inside The Forum was all cool and calm, no one appeared to be annoyed or displayed being pissed off.
The show finally started at 12.45 AM with the crowd erupting into massive screams at the sight of the curtain going up and Madonna riding a miniature tricycle down the centre of stage.
It’s been a long overdue wait but Madonna finally returned back to Australia after 23 years. Madonna had announced a week ago that she wanted to give back to her fans who have waiting so patiently for her return and gave a free show to chosen fans through a competition on social media.
You had to have been a member of her fan club, Icon, prior to the 1st March 2016 but also Telstra were a part of it too. The very intimate show was billed as “Tears of a Clown” at the Forum Theatre. I was one of the lucky ones who won a ticket to witness this extremely very exclusive show that most likely Australia will never experience again. The show was billed as a “night of performance art, comedy, story telling and music.”
The doors finally opened up at 11.30 PM and at 12.45 AM Madonna finally took to the stage. Yes she was late but I was one of those people who just didn’t care. I was blessed (and grateful) that I won a ticket to see this legendary artist live, up front and personal. And this was a show that was going to be different to the ‘Rebel Heart’ tour.
It was going to be a a once in a life time experience that most likely was never going to be repeated and just like the very elusive Prince after show parties that he throws at the last minute. the later the show starts the more f**king brilliant and special it is. Artists like Madonna bring out that impressionable teenage self in you again. Rediscovering that joy of pop music (when pop music used to be actually quite good and memorable).
Hands down, ‘Tears of a Clown’ was magical and surreal. If you were expecting a pop greatest hits intimate show, then you’re a definite fool. I’m sorry, it’s true.
“I want to make a disclaimer,” she said. “If anyone thinks they came here to see a finished final show, there’s the door. This is some brand spanking new shit. I don’t know if you like it raw.
The title, ‘Tears of a Clown’ pretty much says it all. Her state of mind. Dissect it. Read into it. It was to be a show of eclectic music, her bad but ever so cute joke telling and story telling but ever so intimate, is what dreams are made of from artists as legendary as Madonna.
The moment Madonna walked out or should I say, road on her tricycle, you could feel it in the air that the energy of the show was going to be emotional. We all know about the saga of the custody battle with he ex-husband, Guy Ritchie over their son Rocco. The woman is missing her son terribly. The painful heartbreak is written all over her face and spirit.
Madonna making her grand entrance is pure classic Madonna: on a miniature tricycle.
Seeing the woman in the flesh was so hard to process. I felt like I was dreaming. I couldn’t believe that I finally was seeing this iconic artist right in front of me, whom I have grown up listening to, dancing to and trying to mimic. It was hilarious seeing her ride onstage on the miniature tricycle bike, dressed head to toe in a clown outfit but obviously down in classic Madonna style (suspenders and you could see her bodice outfit underneath. Classic) with a pink top hat, wig, and in full clown makeup. It was a Madonna unlike no other.
She opened the show with trip-hop version of ‘Send in the Clowns’ and from that moment she took everyone’s breath away. There was no choreographed routines, no back-up dancers and her usual band had been stripped down. Madonna played many songs she’s never ever performed live before. It was incredible.
The crowd had never heard her sing so painfully and beautifully as she did that night. Madonna doesn’t get enough credit as a singer. She may not be Mariah Carey or Kelly Clarkson, but her vocals are extraordinary. She had all of us in the palm of her hands and we never wanted to let go. Throughout the night, Madonna being Madonna flashed the crowd (if I didn’t get a bit flashing from her I would have been actually been really disappointed, honest truth!) and threw peanuts at the crowd. We lapped it all up.
The most rawest moment I found to be when Madonna dedicated the song ‘Intervention’ from the American Life album, to her estranged son, Rocco. There were two large photos screened of Rocco, one including a baby photo, behind her.
“There’s no end to the mistakes I’ve made. Everybody knows the saga of me and my son Rocco. It’s not a fun story to tell or think about. I probably could have enjoyed myself a little bit more on this tour if he hadn’t disappeared so suddenly and also if I knew when I would see him again. I want to dedicate this next song to Rocco.”
Madonna starts to sing the song:
“I got to save my baby
Because he makes me cry
I got to make him happy
I got to teach him how to fly I want to take him higher
Way up like a bird in the sky
I got to calm him down now … I know that love will keep us together.”
Her voice was painfully emotional and had many fans, including myself in tears and with other fans shouting out messages of support and at this point, Madonna breaks down and cries. It’s so obvious this is tearing her apart. You need to remember she not just an artist, one of the worlds most famous living entertainers, she is also a parent, a mother and her heart is breaking into a million shattered pieces at what is happening in her own private life, which really unfortunately is being played out in the public eye.
Send in the Clowns
Drowned World/Substitute for Love
X-Static Process (first time live since 2003)
Between the Bars (Elliott Smith cover)
Nobody’s Perfect (first time live since 2001)
Easy Ride (Premiere: first time ever)
Intervention (Premiere: first time ever)
I’m So Stupid (Premiere: first time ever)
Paradise (Not for Me) (first time live since 2006)
Joan of Arc
Don’t Tell Me
Mer Girl (first time live since 2001)
Borderline (acoustic, first time live since 2008)
Take a BowEncore:
Throughout the show, Madonna would tell a lot of good and bad jokes but it was her cheeky charm that had the crowd laughing along with her. Her keyboard player would sound off effects from canned laughter to drum rolls after the jokes and Madonna just couldn’t get enough of that damn clown horn, honking it far too often (sorry M. Haha!).
Many media news outlets have reported that she appeared a little unsteady and slurry at times. I can most certainly tell you she was not drunk however she did request alcohol on stage.
“One thing I want to do that I haven’t done before is drink on stage,” she said. At that moment two of her back up dancers came out on stage and delivered a Cosmopolitan.
Madonna further added that she never drinks during her extreme high performance tight choreographed shows. If you’ve ever watched the woman live in concert you would know how she never stops dancing and the choreography is so on cue and so tight, there is no room whatsoever for stuff ups. This woman is a control freak.
It seems to be OK for male artists such as Jimmy Barnes (Australian rock artist) who used to preform on stage drunk and drink full bottle of alcohol in front of the audience, other like Mick Jagger, AC/DC, Jimmy Page the list goes on and on… artists like them get applauded and called ‘legends but because this one female artist drinks one or two glasses… well slap me Annie, I think that means she’s an alcoholic!!
Seriously, that is completely wrong. Double standards! While there are other artists out there who cancel the shows because they would rather have that holiday in Mexico than perform for their devoted fans or have serious drug addictions, they don’t get the negative headlines but because Madonna had two Cosmopolitans, headlines around the world all screamed, “Madonna’s public meltdown on stage!” “Madonna’s losing the plot!” “Madonna’s a drunk!”
“You think I could get through my big show drunk? Hell no!”
“You think I could get through my big show drunk? Hell no!”
This Madonna show is one that will be memorable. One because we have never seen this side of the Queen of Pop so raw and emotional. Her guard was down but so was her spirit.
Throughout the show, you would see the classic witty cheeky Madonna that we have all loved but the selection of songs pretty much showed that this is a woman, a mother like any other, who is suffering. Except with this mother her life is public.
Many judge the woman because she is confronting about political, human rights and artistic integrity. This is the woman that has paved the way for all female performers, to perform at high levels and compete against men in an ever growing sexist entertainment industry.
During an introduction of one song, ‘Don’t Tell Me’. Madonna talks about how people always ask the most unusual question, ”You’ve done everything. What else is there for you to do? Why don’t you stop?’ She said she always finds that question stupid and a little offensive.
“Did anybody ever asked Picasso why doesn’t he stop? No. Has anybody ever asked Hugh Hefner why doesn’t he stop? Fuck no. Why? Because they’re men. So why should I? I am never… ever… ever going to stop..”
The crowd went wild knowing she would not ever be stopping and this led into the song, ‘Don’t Tell Me’.
And it’s true what she says: as soon as a female entertainer (mainly singers) hits a certain age (over the age of 40) apparently she’s meant to leave the public eye and I don’t know… go knit scarves on the patio or go into a retirement village.
But yet it’s applauded when wrinkly old male rock stars still perform the stage well into their 60’s and 70’s. It’s 2016 and things still haven’t changed for women around the world. Extremely sad.
The fans absolutely loved interacting with Madonna and joined in on the fun when she asked fans to shout back back repeatedly, “f**k f**k f**k yeah!” when things were totally spot on and true.
Also another life lesson we learnt from Madonna was: “sorry, you’re right”. Madonna said it was a life lesson that she’s starting to use now to keep the peace in any type of relationship and would ask us to repeat it back to her. We loved all the banter and lapped it all up.
It was reported again in the news media (or should I saw gossip media) that Madonna was taking shade at stars such as Celine Dion (who actually is a distant relative of Madonna’s, fourth or fifth cousin on Madonna’s mum side), Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears and every other singer that, “I would rather die than work at Vegas.” It was no way a shade.
When Madonna takes shade, she actually has the balls to mention the persons name, not hide behind some innuendo. She has every right to state how she feels. It’s just not her type of thing. Just like you and I have most likely have some thought on certain jobs we definitely would not ever want to do.
Obviously ‘Tears of a Clown’ is nothing at all like the stadium shows she does.
This was a different Madonna that rarely is ever seen and when an artist of that calibre reveals apart of their soul in such a way, you truly see their persona on another level and and fall in love with them all over again.
Like in the case with Prince at his recent Piano and A Microphone Tour. That show was also quite raw and revealing. With this Madonna show, it explains why die hard fans were prepared to wait to see something that most likely I’m sorry to say, will never happen again in Australia. I truly do hope I’m wrong.
The songs that Madonna sang at this show actually took me to another dimension and made me see them in a different light. It’s a lot more profound and revealing than I really ever thought them to be at the time when I used to just ‘sing along’ to them.
Again, Madonna isn’t celebrated enough for the brilliant song writing talent that she has. Since she first started out in the entertainment industry over 35 years ago, she has written 99% of all of her songs and has also written a lot for other artists too.
This is a woman who has always been totally obsessively in control of her career and at this moment, we watched a legendary artist speak and show raw emotions that is so rare to see in public as she normally has an icy demeanor, reflecting and opening up her heart to what’s been going on in her very public personal life.
This show was completely and utterly out of her comfort zone and uncharacteristically unplanned. Remember she arrived late Monday on 7th March and had two rehearsal days. She even still made two mistakes on two songs, starting either to early or too fast and had the band restart again. Again, she said: “See I told you that this would be a work in progress. I’ve only had two rehearsal days.”
If you were at the show and you weren’t a die hard fan and you expected a different type of show (i.e. greatest hits) and you felt let down and pissed off, well honey you wasted a ticket that really should have gone to someone else who would have walked on a tightrope over Niagra Falls for.
“I’ve had this idea in my head for this show ‘Tears of a Clown’ which is a combination of music and storytelling. Because at the end of the day, I do think of myself as a story teller. But it’s rough as fuck, so bear with me and give me all the support you can. It’s from the heart. I chose to debut this work in progress, this rough rehearsal, here in Australia because I feel so bad about cancelling on you guys the last time. I’m sorry. You’ve been so patient, you’ve waited for so long, I feel like I owe you a present, so this is your present.”
“I’ve had this idea in my head for this show ‘Tears of a Clown’ which is a combination of music and storytelling. Because at the end of the day, I do think of myself as a story teller. But it’s rough as fuck, so bear with me and give me all the support you can. It’s from the heart.
I chose to debut this work in progress, this rough rehearsal, here in Australia because I feel so bad about cancelling on you guys the last time. I’m sorry. You’ve been so patient, you’ve waited for so long, I feel like I owe you a present, so this is your present.”
We all loved and adored your present, Madonna.
One that will be forever kept in our memory and in our rebel hearts.
location: The Forum, Melbourne - Australia