Madonna @ American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

Words and photos by Duane Clawson
It may have been a while since you have thought about the name, Madonna. I did not think about the name Madonna until I saw she was coming the American Airlines Center in Dallas. When MTC MAG was approved to review the show, I really thought about Madonna and the illustrious career she has had! But it truly didn’t hit me until I entered AAC and saw the massive stage that was needed for this living legend! Reflecting on her past there was a time when there was no bigger name than Madonna. A fashion icon, an activist, a pop star, an actress, hell she even has studies named after her, an academic mini subdiscipline called Madonna studies! But one does not merely walk in and see such royalty immediately, first one must wait.

Looking at some of the things being said online about Madonna’s 2024 show were less than kind. First and foremost, the wait. And wait we did. The show did start at the suggested 8:30 start time, but it would be two hours before anyone saw the “Queen of Pop.” One hour and fifteen minutes of DJ Mary Mac 5 Star became a bit repetitious and had many retreating to the lobby for merch and beverages. Finally, at 10:30 the stage goes dark. A crowd full of Madonna look-a-likes lets out a mighty roar as Bob the Drag Queen outlines the night’s agenda, “this is not just a party, it’s a celebration, bitches!”

As Bob sinks into the stage a giant illuminated ring hovers above a revolving stage and just like that, Madonna spins into view! Opening with “Nothing Really Matters”, her voice sounds good, not quite the voice one would expect coming from a nearly sixty-six year-old entertainer. At the song’s conclusion, she quickly disappears, trading in her big black robe and halo for a catholic girl skirt, bustier, and boots. A dance crew joins the songstress for a rousing version of 1982’s, “Everybody.” One thing becomes clear immediately, this night will be a celebration of all things Madonna!

And if may say something right now, this woman looked great! Strangely, as the night progresses it is evident full versions of her biggest hits from the 80's are not present. Now mind you, the fans knew every song, but it almost felt like one those “essential collection” CD's you would find at Wal-Mart. I did appreciate Madonna taking everyone back the beginning of her career with the first song she wrote, “Burning Up”.

Madonna makes it a family affair as her daughter Mercy James plays piano during “Bad Girl” while the singer sat atop it. For a moment she sits on the piano bench with her daughter as a faint smoke fills the air, creating a misty nightclub styled scene. One of the night’s bigger productions came during “Vogue”. Dancers walked the runway dressed in vintage styles while her 11-year-old daughter, Estere, danced like a pro close to her mother.

The Celebration Tour is broken down into acts, each having their high and low points, some leading nowhere. This is most noticeable in act five, where Madonna is missing from the stage for five minutes. During those moments a video plays, while dancers dance to prerecorded Bible verses. This gives way to Madonna re-emerging performing, “Die Another Day”. All very strange but again one must consider this aging star is out there for two plus hours, giving it her all, she needs a break every now and then.

This show would have probably received an R-rating if it were a movie, with a wide variety of simulated sex acts, and shirtless dancers. But her entire career has been built around controversy, and no one should have been appalled by this. This two-night extravaganza is more like a night in a large dance club, with many versions of her songs that are pumped up remixes. There are moments where Madonna bares it all, musically. Sporting an acoustic guitar, she engages with the audience before a solo recital of “Express Yourself.”

Flying over the stage in an illuminated box for “Ray of Light” the material girl gently lands. A cloaked figure covers her cracked mirror skin suit with a black robe. Closing out the sixth act pop’s elder stateswoman fittingly sings “Take a Bow”. The audience is still as she sings the opening line, “Take a bow, the night is over. This masquerade is getting older”, maybe realizing this may be the last they see her live. Not leaving fans on a somber note, Madonna returns for act seven in the form of a shadow. Paired with a silhouette of Michael Jackson, the two dance to “Billy Jean / Like a Virgin” while a montage of still pictures of the couple flash on the side screens.

A series of period correct Madonna’s line the stage’s catwalks, while the legend herself rises center stage for “Bitch I’m Madonna”. The forty year's worth of Madonna dance frantically around the real Madonna, eventually clearing the stage leaving the one and only to say her goodbyes. Two and a half hours and twenty-six songs later, she veils herself, she sinks into the stage, leaving just as mystically as she came in. This was by far one of the more interesting evenings I’ve spent reviewing a show but I can now say I’ve seen Madonna live.

Thanks to American Airlines Center and Madonna for allowing MTC MAG to be front and center for this extravagant production!

Photos of the show are below:

Contributed by Duane Clawson
Madonna @ American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX Madonna @ American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on March 25, 2024 Rating: 5
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