City: Barcelona, Spain.
Venue: Palau Sant Jordi.
01. Act of Contrition Intro
02. Girl Gone Wild
04. Gang Bang
05. Papa Don’t Preach
06. Hung Up
07. I Don’t Give A
08. Best Friend (Interlude)
09. Express Yourself/Born This Way
10. Give Me All Your Luvin’
11. Turn Up the Radio
12. Open Your Heart
14. Justify My Love (Interlude)
16. Candy Shop
17. Human Nature
18. Like a Virgin
19. Nobody Knows Me (Interlude)
20. I’m Addicted
21. I’m a Sinner
22. Like a Prayer
It’s Madonna madness again! It’s been three years since I saw Madonna for the first time and as always, she leaves you wanting more and more. Finally a new studio album was about to be released but instead of waiting for it’s release, promote it and THEN go on tour like artists usually do, LiveNation (her new record label) hurried everything up and started selling concert tickets right after her SuperBowl performance, which was brilliant by the way! So that meant no promotion at all and not enough time to plan and save money to see her. It was all very rushed up.
After the concert dates were announced, I began to think where I might go because obviously she wasn’t coming to Venezuela. Europe was the first leg of the tour and it was in summer so the timing was perfect for me, since the North American dates were in the fall and South American dates in winter which were impossible for me to attend, plus USA tickets are always more expensive since they have assigned seats. One more advantage for me was that one of my best friends, Alicia, was living in Spain and it happens that Madonna had two shows in Barcelona! So, to make long story short, I made several arrangements to travel to Spain, visit my friend and go to the MDNA Tour! (that’s how the album and the tour is called).
Finally I arrived to Barcelona, I went to my hotel and there I met with my friend who drove all the way from Valencia to meet me and go to the concert with me. Just to check out where the Palau Sant Jordi Arena was and how to get there, we decided to go one day before the concert and see how was the overall mood. When we arrived around 3 pm, for our surprise there were already a line of 20 people in the Early Access door (which was our ticket for the first show) =O we asked around and everyone were staying and sleeping there until the next day, in fact, each one of them had a number in line written on their hands… crazy! One guy asked us if we were going to get in the queue and we were like: Hell no! I love Madonna but this is too much sacrifice; and actually, we were right: the next day when we got into the Arena, we were in the third row around the end of the V-shaped catwalk, two meters away from the Queen!
I wanted to go very early to the Arena on the day of the show, but I still had jet-lag and I just couldn’t make it. Alicia and I had to take a taxi in “Plaza Espanya” because there were no buses available to go the Arena because the Police had closed several streets around, and the taxi took few shortcuts and left us pretty close! It was 2 pm when we got there and there were already like 150 people in the Early Access line… damn! Many fans had these funny Madonna shirts and one guy had a Madonna/Gaga “Drive Bitch” montage. A couple of hours later, a lady from the management approached to us and told us that soon the “iPad Lady” would come to us for a chance to win the “Golden Triangle” tickets (which allows you to enter the pit inside the V catwalk, and of course, it was a fan’s ultimate dream). Sadly, the iPad went nuts and gave away every ticket at the beginning of the line and it never reached us, oh well.
It was 30 minutes before the Early Access doors would open and we were still in the line. We were standing in front of the Arena’s parking lot entrance when suddenly, a car approached and began to honk so we would move for it to enter. As we were moving to the sides and the car passed right in front of me, I recognized the co-pilot: it was Martin Solveig! The French DJ and one of MDNA’s producers who was the opening act for Madonna in Europe. Missed to take a picture, though.
The doors for Early Access opened and we all began to enter the Arena. The excitement was overcoming me and as we were getting closer to our door, I was feeling more nervous and excited! Finally we went through the last door and there it was, the MDNA stage! No time to mesmerize, we had to run down the stairs to get to the floor and grab the hottest spot around the stage. We managed to be in front of the tip the V catwalk with only 2 rows of people in front of us (which some of them were the people who slept outside doing the line). Since we had half an house advantage before the General admission ticket-holders to enter, I went to the washroom; as I was on my way back, unexpectedly the general doors opened and everyone were running like crazy to the stage… OMG! I ran so fast so I would be able to get back inside where I was, the people were just piling up around! I approached and people already didn’t want to let me in even though I was screaming saying that I was there earlier with my friend, thank God a guy who was beside us when we enter saw me and he helped me to get in, whew!!!
All this introduction story is getting long, right? Well, a concert is not a concert without the Pre and Post show moments and anecdotes 🙂 But to resume, we had to stand four more hours for the show to begin so we made some friends that were around us, two of them were a little drunk since they had the “Party” package (which included a Pre-show party with food & drinks and General admission entrance, but they managed to sneak in with the Early Access people). So one of these guys really wanted to go to the washroom but now that deal was that you absolutely COULDN’T GET OUT, if you did, you wouldn’t be able to get in… people just wouldn’t let you; So, this guy had to pee in cups around us… disgusting and kinda funny at the same time haha. The other fan, she really needed to go to the washroom and after hesitating whether to go or not, she did, I thought I would never see her again. An hour later, she surprisingly came back… barely! She told us that several people even tried to hit her (literally) to not let her get to the front. Crazy Spanish Fans. That didn’t happen in Madrid…
The MDNA curtain fell off (a courtain with the album cover printed on it) and Martin Solveig began his opening show at 9:30 pm playing a remix of Madonna’s “Music” and then went onwards with his set-list and ended with his recent hit single “Hello” with Dragonette <3. During his act, he made the fans to chant “L-U-V Madonna” followed up by a remix of Into the Groove 😀 After he went off stage, it was about thirty minutes more when the technicians began to take their places and the prop people lowered down the candle. We all knew the show was about to begin.
THE LIGHTS WENT OFF and every single person in the Arena began to scream, cheer and applaud. I had my camera ready. Unlike previous Madonna tours, the opening wasn’t introduced with high-energy backdrop videos on the screens (nor moving screens like in Sticky & Sweet); but rather with a mystic slow religious theme where several monks in red robes lit up the candle, lift it up and bounce it from one side to another. Dark creatures appeared crawling from the side and three men (The Kalakan Trio) appeared on stage dressed up as monks and began to chant a prayer which included a repeated chant of “Madonna… Madonna… Madonna…” which I only realized days later when I was watching my videos, haha.
Madonna emerged out from a flying confessional and bam! The with the sound of broken glasses she began to perform her newest single “Girl Gone Wild” with her male dancers on heels. Halfway through the song, one thing I found really amazing: the center floor of the stage lifts divided in several cubes and their sides have video screens on them too, that was totally insane! During her performance of Revolver, Madonna finally began to walk through the catwalk and she stood JUST RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME and began to dance the breakdown part during Lil’ Wayne’s rap. This was the first time that I had Madonna so close to me, she was literally like 2 meters from me! It was very surreal. Just wanted to point out that when I saw her that close, I told myself “she’s very impressive and energetic, but time has affected her” and she also looked a little bit tired… it’s not easy to keep up with such a massive global world tour, dance her ass off and sing at that age. Admirable!
After the violent performance of “Gang Bang”, Madonna sang just a part of “Papa Don’t Preach” in front of us again and then was taken by the dancers back to the main stage to perform a fully vocoderized version of “Hung Up” which apart from her slacklining, I totally disliked… and also it contained some really creepy satanic backdrop videos… Anyways, “I Don’t Give A” was next and she sang it with her guitar in front of us, Nicki Minaj was featured in the backdrop screens which was a totally highlight for me (yeah, I admit, now I kinda like her :/) and the ending of this performance was very epic! There’s only one queen and that’s Madonna… Bitch! And then she just lays on the floor while she’s been lifted on one of those cubes and a red cross appears from the screens. Insane!
The cheerleader segment was a really fun one. Madonna pulling off the cheerleader costume and her pom-poms was totally amazing and she was more fun and cheerful than the first “dark” segment. The Express Yourself/Born This Way mash-up made everyone scream and root for MDNA obviously (Reductive, eh?); and I didn’t expect at all that all her band and male dancers would hang from the ceiling playing the drums during “Give Me All Your Luvin'”! Few songs later, she performed “Open Your Heart”! Finally! After years of teasing us with bits of it (Instrumental sample in “Drowned World Tour” and some verses in “Frozen” in the second round of “Sticky and Sweet”). I really liked that acoustic-drum-like version of it, the Kalakan Trio (which were introduced by Madonna in that song) sang along with her and her son Rocco got on stage as a dancer! So cool! Nevertheless, I found this act to be quite similar to Sticky’s “La Isla Bonita/Doli Doli” segment with the Kolpakov Trio but with the only difference that Open Your Heart ended up with an energetic mash-up of a traditional Basque song called “Sagarra Jo”. Fun thing was that there was a guy next to me that was also from the Basque Country, so he lost his shit when he heard that song and he was just screaming and dancing like crazy, haha.
Now it was the chill down part of the concert where Madonna speaks to the audience and performs a ballad. She talked about the meaning of Sagarra Jo which means smashing apples but actually is about smashing prejudices, love one another and all that stuff. After performing “Masterpiece”, another interlude was coming and a video began to play on the screens, Oh my god… it was a 2012 version of “Justify My Love” (new remixed version by William Orbit), I was loving every second of the video interlude, it is so sexy, Madonna looked hot and I absolutely loved the “Film Noir” style, oh and some clowns were dancing on stage. The next segment opened with her classic hit “Vogue” and Madonna was wearing the 2012 version of her iconic point-bra designed by Jean Paul Gaultier himself! Too bad Vogue wasn’t performed in its entirety and after the “celebrities rap” she mixed it with “Candy Shop”, and while I LOVE that song and it’s actually still stuck in my head, that was a really odd song choice for the set-list, she could’ve performed another rare hit but what can ya’ do? Her sugar is Raw! P.D.: This version contained verses from “Erotica” 😀 Please do the full song in the next tour!
Finally Madonna gave justice to “Human Nature”, after the horrible version of Sticky and Sweet and the terrible cowboy-esque rendition in Drowned World, she sang this almost-album version 😀 And while performing, she began to take off her clothes which led her to perform another classic hit: “Like a Virgin”, but this time, it was a very very different version. Madonna was laying down half naked on the floor singing her 80’s song mixed with a piano music piece that was featured in her movie “W.E.”; during the performance, Madonna got a corset wrapped around her by a dancer and after a while he began to tight her really hard that made her do some painful-erotic fake-screaming hehe.
The last segment was about to begin and it started with a social-awareness interlude, just like her two previous tours; this time was with a remix of “Nobody Knows Me”. I didn’t realized that during the whole show, I was slowly getting further back from the stage 😦 Now I was like two rows further, but I was already getting tired and people were so intense that I didn’t bother to push myself back to the front row, I still could see everything perfect! Madonna emerged from under the stage dressed as Joan of Arc (and barefoot!) singing “I’m Addicted”, one of my very favorite tracks from MDNA. It’s was a totally high-energetic performance that made the Arena jump around. After singing “I’m a Sinner” mixed with the surprisingly selected song “Cyberraga” (a B-side from her singles “Music” and “Don’t Tell Me”), she proceeded to the encore with “Like a Prayer”. Again, the whole crown went wild! And unlike the rave remix of Sticky & Sweet (which I adore), this was more like the SuperBowl version and Madonna went on touching people’s hands. One of the friends that was with us early that day got to touch Madonna! Lucky bastard! hahaha.
The show ended with “Celebration”, a cool ending for the MDNA Tour. All the backdrop screens featured CGI flying cubes making them look as if they were really 3D, impressive effect! Rocco was on stage again dancing with all the crew and Madonna giving her everything for the last performance. When it ended, the Arena emptied very fast. Our new friends invited us to the Madonna Party that the official Spanish Club was making in the downtown, but Alicia and I were so exhausted that it would’ve been a suicide to go, Lol. We chilled down a while outside the Arena and began to make our way back to the hotel; but surprise! Don’t know what happened but seemed like we went on walking on another direction and it was not only just ONE HOUR later, filled with despair and pain, that we finally managed to get to our bus stop in “Plaza Espanya”. All we wanted is to get back to the hotel as soon as possible and regain our strength for the next day. But it was totally worthy, not every time you can see Madonna so close!
Here’s the video I recorded for “Revolver”, that’s how close I was 😀