The Truth about Madonna, MDNA at Hyde Park @mdna @MadonnaWorld #MDNA #Madonna
For the first time in a long time I actually paid for a concert ticket. Yeah, that’s right, my own money!
Working in the media, concert tickets and Access All Areas passes become the norm. It’s been a little while since my last event, although I do recall spending most of it avoiding the mud, hob knobbing in the catering tent back stage.
SO why did I pay? Well here is the thing, my other half is a big Madonna fan, and she always has been. With her birthday coming up I thought it would be nice to get a couple of tickets, leave the camera at home and let my hair down a bit.
Obtaining tickets was actually a bit of an obstacle. Having watched the Panorama exposé on Seatwave and Viagogo I guess I should have known better than to think I could simply buy a ticket from Ticketmaster!
Like a million more before me I took to eBay armed only with a paypal account and the fastest bidding finger in the west. Many of the listings smelled funny. They could well have been genuine but with such inflated prices it was a big gamble. Would you buy a ticket from a seller that can’t spell Ticket?
I continued to search and found a company trading on eBay as Number 63 Events. They had a lot of positive feedback from ticket sales for various events and a company registration number. I stuck the number into companieshouse.gov.uk, they all looked legit. If it was a scam they had worked very hard to masquerade as a legitimate business and therefore probably deserve my cash!
2 Gold Circle tickets for Hyde Park now acquired at the cost of around £400 (Face Value £137 each) I was happy with that amount, ok they were marked up but they were on the ball come release date, and I wasn’t. Plus they were cheaper than Seatwave and ViaGoGo.
Like I said before, my other half is an avid fan of the Queen Of Pop, I however don’t share these views. I’m one of those “I like their first album better” people! Seriously though, in my opinion Madonna’s best tunes come in the form of “Like a Prayer”, “Express Yourself”, “Vogue”, “Take a Bow” and “Human Nature”. I haven’t actually liked anything after “Ray of Light”.
So as the concert date drew nearer Moniques excitement was growing, MDNA was piped through my house while I was trying to get some work done in the office! What I was hearing wasn’t particularly to my liking. I’m a big supporter of Dubstep and have been since the early radio one sessions around 2006. It has pained me to see a very underground genre of music that I held so personally and close to my heart become part of the commercial hit factory. For me, dupstep was such a raw, all encompassing sound that has polished and made to sound ever more “professional”, always detracting from its roots. A particular low point for Dubstep (in my opinion) was the Weetabix advert. Dancing teddy bears using Dubstep to hock cereal. True commercialism. Dubstep step fans know you cannot dance to Dubstep, you shuffle around in the dark nodding your head and twisting up your face to tortured synths. Teddies don’t dance to Dubstep.
I say this because MDNA does feature some Dubstep breakdowns and synth production. This concert was not looking promising for me. To compound my misery I was driving to the event and couldn’t drink and even though we have decent tickets and the acts weren’t starting till late in the afternoon. Moniques OCD meant that we needed to be the first to arrive at Hyde park or we would miss out completely.
The big day arrived, children suitably sat, we drove down to my studio, abandoned the car and a couple of underground stops later arrived at Hyde Park. We had a quick drink and rushed to queue.
The Gold circle had a much smaller space for queuing (since there were far fewer gold circle tickets available) we queued for what I think was about 1 million hours… OK, 3 hours, but usually I’m the guy that walks past the queue with a kit bag and lanyard so sympathise, we queued for a while. After we had queued for 3 hours the event staff opened another section and brought to the front all the people from the very back of the queue. The 1500 or so people that had been queuing with us were not amused. Sensing another London riot the staff promptly started to filter us through.
One thing I have neglected to mention was the MUD! Early in the week Kylie and Jason had cancelled their reunion concert here due to the site being so muddy and “Unsafe”. Wireless was the week before and Bruce Springsteen a few days after the K&J cancellation. Those concerts went ahead… We were sporting wellies as we have had an incredible amount of rain this month and if the site was so bad Kylie and Jason could even perform, well I’m sure wellies would be a must!
Now in the site there was no mud to be seen. A sea of woodchip lay before us, and pretty deep too. The site manager made a good call here, although I wouldn’t fancy the bill for clearing the lot away and re-turfing one of London’s most famous Royal Parks!
We were in early so we grabbed a program, 25 quid, a burger, 9 quid and a pork roll, another 9 quid. We rammed those into or grids (not the program) and set upon the circle of gold.
The gold circle was a decent size, only about 3000 people in there, during the support acts many of the 3000 were still sitting and milling around.
Martin Solveig had the difficult job of entertaining the venue as it filled. He threw some nice square bass at us and some arpeggiated electo melodies, the volume was good and overall I think he done a good job. Naturally he got more attention when sliding a Madonna tune into his set, other than that the crowd didn’t seem too enthralled.
Next came the support act LMFAO, I don’t know too much about these guys. A few “Big” chart hits that go down well in the clubs and a video on YouTube that a fan made which simply loops a segment of “I’m Sexy And I Know It” for an entire hour.
The set was certainly energetic, a few cliché Dubstep synth sounds but that is to be expected from any dance act these days right? The sound was good, the visual was limited to dancers but that wasn’t such a bad thing. The guys (and girls) looked like they were having a good time on stage and that was echoed by the crowd.
By this point we had started our assent on the stage. From the back of the gold circle we had made it to about 6 people in from the stage. We however could not move. It was a case of breathing out when the people around you breathed in and breathing in when they breathed out. An ill-timed breath and someone was going to get pushed out! This was simply not comfortable at all there was space at the back of the gold circle but that was only because the front was packed so tight.
To make matters worse, although I am a statuesque 5’10 Monique is a mere 5’1. Amongst the tall Madonna fans neither of us could see a thing. Monique was unhappy, I was unhappy. I suggested we stand strong until Madonna come on stage, see if we have any view at all then reassess our position.
The show started and through bodies I could just about see what was happening, Monique found it much more difficult. It seems the brutal reality of going to a concert is that you wait around for ages to see someone that you then cant see at all and to tease you just a bit more, everyone else is having a great time while we of diminutive stature watch screens.
I suggested we head back and regain our personal space with the crowd pushing forward there was sure to be respite towards the back of the gold circle. We walked back and thankfully found a much better vantage point. Monique could now not only see but she could dance! Ever the strong silent type I stood strong and busted out an occasional foot tap.
Now Monique could actually see the stage she was having a much better time and you know what, I was enjoying myself too. The music critic in me had gone for a walk and I could appreciate the new album for its artistic merit. Visually the show was very good. I especially liked the Justify My Love Interlude. There were dancers on stage during this but I was captivated by the black and white/film noir esq production on the large centre screen. This was fantastic. My job dictates that I view varying media productions objectively while trying to create pieces of indulgent beauty. This short was inspirational and constructed magnificently. My entry fee was justified with this short alone.
Reworked versions of a few of the classics were thrown in and “Vogue” was another highlight. I couldn’t fault the acoustics, the performers, the grounds staff or the stage management. In my eyes they had all performed as expected.
After the show we exited and made our way out of the venue. This was the first time I heard criticism of the event. It wouldn’t be the last either. I heard first hand how people, “Couldn’t believe she treated us like that”. I also heard that “She left early”.
Much has been made of the poor venue choice by Live Nation, the curfews imposed by the councils etc but you have to remember… Venues in London at the start of the Olympics don’t grow on trees. Personally, yes I agree, it wasn’t the best venue in the World, or even the best in England but the best available in London given the constraints. Quite probably. Live Nation aren’t exactly amateurs, they know what they are doing and I think they did well. Can you think of a better venue? If so why didn’t Wireless, Kylie, Jason and Bruce Springsteen perform there? The alternative of course would have been to cancel the London dates.
You will never please all of the people all of the time. I believe the show ended at 10:28, Madonna did finish early. Her mic wouldn’t have been pulled for another two minutes! We could maybe have had an intro to another song in that time…
Other criticisms in the press highlighted a particular fans distain for the burlesque elements of the show. Madonna, stripping to her underwear and writhing around on stage with muscular, scantily clad male dancers. Did this person understand that at the point of purchasing their ticket that it was for a Madonna concert? Perhaps the same person has tickets for the Olympics and will complain that there are, “Too many foreigners taking part in the games.” A Madonna show by definition will be provocative we all know that right?
The show has been reviewed poorly in the press publishing Tweets as a basis of negative articles. People can’t believe that she didn’t play her whole back catalogue. Or at least, “All her old songs”. Well this was the MDNA tour, so doesn’t it make sense to expect songs from the latest album, MDNA?
It is nice that artists throw in the more famous singles from their past. After all, those are the songs that built the fanbase and the ones that the fans have most empathy for. Lets not forget those old much loved songs were once new songs with limited emotional attachment so give credit to the artist for having the ability to continually move forward and create new art. If you don’t like the new art then that is your prerogative but at least dislike it for the right reasons.
Anybody with such a wide appeal as Madonna will provoke criticism. Papers will print criticism and perpetuate that negative. If you are thinking of going to see MDNA I suggest you do. I paid more than double the face value of the ticket and I would do it again… and I’m not even a fan, or at least I wasn’t.
- by Damien
- posted at 7:00 pm
- July 21, 2012