May 3, 1985
By David Huff
Madonna - The "Virgin" Tour
Madonna shows crowd she can be Crazy For You
I am not going to say that I haven't had my reservations about Madonna since she came onto the music scene a couple of years ago. Let’s be real here. Is this really the face of a global icon in the making? With the advent of her first arena tour of North America, we’re about to find out.
Madonna Louise Ciccone has been blessed by seductive good looks and incredible timing. I say timing because there’s a very good chance the singer / actress is smart enough to take advantage of the upstart MTV and make the fledgling network her own. Yes, Michael Jackson ruled it last year, and aside from a tour with his brother’s last year, that’s all you’re going to get out of him. With Madonna, however, the cable station is literally becoming her own network. Music videos like “Borderline,” “Lucky Star” and “Holiday” made her an instant hit on dance club floors across the country. The video to the title track of her new album, Like a Virgin, and its follow-up which debuted in January, “Material Girl”, have pushed this 27-year old entertainer over the top.
What this tour was either going to disprove, or validate was one thing. You can manufacture a look on video, but you can’t mimic true talent when it’s performed live. If Madonna was the real deal, then her first tour of America was going to prove it. The current group of impressionable teens, let’s call them the MTV generation, adore Madonna for her trend setting ways. In a sense, she’s the bad girl they want to be, now they have an excuse to do it without offending their parents. They adopt in their everyday wardrobe just about everything this fashion plate throws at them. At an accelerated rate these days, you are seeing young female teens and adults sporting fishnet stockings, lace tops, skirts over pants, an assortment of bracelets and complimentary jewelry that adorns Madonna both publicly and who knows, maybe privately. Throw in the fact Miss Ciccone was formerly a brunette now turned bleached blonde, and you have young women everywhere rushing to the nearest drug or discount store to purchase the hair care product that will give them the platinum look. Such is the effect of great music and video combined.
I’m not going to lie and say I wasn’t looking forward to the Big D debut of the ‘material girl’. The crowd was going to be just as entertaining as the artist herself, and I knew that before I ever parked the car. There was also the added benefit of the controversy has been swirling for months about the video and song “Like a Virgin”. Add the over-the-top homage to Marilyn Monroe in the video “Material Girl” and you have media frenzy and parental angst at an all-time high. This show was definitely going to be enlightening and funny at the same time.
Unfortunately, there was no hilarity in the opening act called the Beastie Boys. For lack of a more eloquent way to say it, these three white trailer trash jokers were pathetic. They were dubbed hip-hop stars from New York. The city can keep them. These guys were terrible, so bad in fact, that reinvented what that term now means. It gives me a headache just saying their name out loud. Seriously, what in the hell was Madonna thinking bringing these trash talking fools on the road with her.
If you look up the word ‘horrible’ in a Thesaurus, the following descriptions aptly describe the aberration 10,000 folks were subjected to. That would include the adjectives dreadful, appalling, horrendous, revolting and abominable. You could throw in the word loathing as well. This crowd felt as much contempt for the Beastie Boys as they did for the crowd they were performing in front of. Unbelievable!
The three fast-talking morons vocabulary pretty much focused on a single work - Fuck! That’s it! That is the key word that literally sums up this trio of trash talking numb-nuts. They could have cared less that they audience they were yacking too was predominantly youthful females. “F--- this!” and “F--- that!” were tossed around on stage like candy. Apparently this type of communication skill is necessary to survive in the hustle and bustle of New York City boroughs. I didn’t know, and frankly, I really didn’t care.
The only amusing thing that came out of the mouths of Adam Yauch, Mike Diamond and Adam Horowitz during their 30-minutes of dribble, was the rant that they were looking for a record label to sign them up. I cracked up for five minutes on that one. These three spent more time telling the Dallas crowd to “F--- off” than they did to try and entertain them. If Madonna thought it was hilarious to unleash this as her warm-up act, then the joke was on her. And now that I’ve said that, why do I get a gnawing, terrible feeling the Beastie Boys will go on to be famous one day just to spite me!
The first time I ever paid any attention to Madonna was when I heard the song "Borderline." It was a very catchy tune that once it got stuck in your head, the words and tune would not leave. As the lights went down at 9 PM sharp, I was hoping Madonna had done a better job hand-picking her stage band than she did her opening act. Fortunately, she did.
The medium age of the crowd for this show was 16, (give or take a year either way) and predominantly excitable females. But that shouldn't be an indication of the type of people who gobble up Madonna's music. This is the same crowd that’s been eating up MTV ever since it debuted. The one thing that did set Miss Ciccone apart from her videos was the actual fact she was a damn good singer. This concert was starting to become a surprise a minute as the action on stage continued.
The show started out rather subdued. I had never really heard of the first four songs outside of maybe "Holiday," which jogged something in the back of my mind. But something that did fuel the imagination was the way Madonna could move on stage. She was the perfect model for Don Henley's hit single, "All She Wants to Do is Dance." This Michigan native could shake, rattle and roll with the best of them. Backed by two dancers, the trio would slither, slide and shimmy in the most seductive of ways with the thrust of a hip here, or the baring of a mid-drift there. It was much more entertaining than anything she could have done on her videos. Well, almost. Who knows what Madonna has in store in the future when it comes to music videos!
The stage was triangular in shape with an assortment of ramps. Four giant screens lined the outside of the stage. The set list consisted of songs from Madonna and Like a Virgin. The singer collaborated with her designer friend named Maripol on clothing designs, jewelry, you name it. Apparently Madonna frequented her shop in Greenwich Village, New York and fell in love with her work.
After a mediocre beginning to the show, the fireworks went off in rapid succession starting with the third single off the current album, “Angel.” It was followed by "Gambler," "Borderline," "Lucky Star," and "Crazy For You." It’s hard to believe Madonna has this many hits off of two albums, and you actually don’t realize it until you hear them performed live. There is definitely something fascinating lurking beneath her blonde mane that I’m sure will reveal itself as she moves forward in her career.
Madonna ended her show with another song I was not aware of. “Burning Up”, before she came back with her much anticipated encores. The first was "Material Girl," which this week just blew past the "We Are the World" recording to claim the No. 1 spot on the Billboard singles charts. The giant screens on stage helped Madonna recreated her video montage of the song quite admirably. She retreated backstage for a quick costume change and reappeared onstage in a shocking white wedding dress for “Like a Virgin.” The noise inside the convention center was deafening.
It was kind of amusing to listen to the mouths of babes – the predominant 14 thru 16 females scattered throughout – sing the touching lyrics, “Like a virgin, touched for the very first time!” ' But, this is what they had come to the concert dressed up to hear, and they were able to relive the video with their heroine. Madonna's 13-song show lasted just over an hour, but that was quite understandable considering her songs all fall in the three to four minute category. Her band director and The Jackson’s Victory Tour music director Patrick Leonard, led an excellent band that played the music record perfect. There were no guitar blazing solos here, nor any extended drum solos. The ‘flashdance’ by Madonna and her supporting cast was the only thing moving and grooving besides the audience.
All in all, this was a relatively short, yet entertaining show. The onstage activity was almost surpassed by the activity watching it. I'm sure Madonna will get slammed by media critics for what they will perceive as a lackluster show, but the fact she’s playing to sold-out arenas around the country on just her second album speaks volumes. It's easy to be an armchair quarterback when you don't have to pay to get in. the bottom line tonight was the music. The stage production was excellent and the main attraction indeed sparkled like a diamond.