Band: Jai Winding, Michael Bearden, Mike McKnight, keyboards; Victor Bailey, bass; Omar Hakim, drums; Paul Pesco, guitar; Luis Conte, percussion; Donna DeLory, Nicki Harris, vocals.
Dancers: Ungela Brockman, Chris Childers, Michael Gregory, Carrie Ann Inaba, Jill Nicklaus, Ruth Taveras, Luca Tommassini, Carlton Wilborn.
Madonna danced, sang and, more specifically, entertained her way through this two-hour live broadcast from Australia. Part Broadway play, part music, part titillation, it was one piquant performance: “The Girlie Show.”
HBO started its broadcast from New York’s CLUB USA with comments from fans. The show then moved to Sydney, where a topless dancer slinked down a 20-foot pole before Madonna rose from below the stage, whip in hand and other places, looking like Catwoman singing “Erotica.” One of her more complex yet subdued songs, it proved a rather anticlimactic opening, but it soon picked up speed with “Fever” followed by her smash “Vogue.”
More than halfway through the show, in what was only her second acknowledgment that she was performing in front of a stadium crowd, Madonna apologized for the inconvenience of the cameras, stating that they bugged her, too. “Every time I have snot flying out of my nose, they zoom in for a close-up, ” she said, humorously turning the observation into a metaphor for life.
Her comments aside, this show was purely for the cameras and the viewing audience at home. Expertly shot with multi-cameras including a crane and an onstage SteadiCam, the show was shot close quarters with just an occasional pan of the vast audience. The event could have been performed in a theater with little or no difference.
Pity the audience members beyond the first 20 rows — all they had was sidestage big screens to admire the intricate dancing and expressions expertly choreographed by Alex Magno.
They all performed flawlessly on a stage that included two hydraulic risers that rose from beneath the stage to elevated platforms and a catwalk that led out toward the audience.
After a slow start, the show, which included nine costume changes, never once let up. Madonna showed energy and amazing stamina throughout. With all the dancing and performing, the music — although just one part of this extravaganza — never suffered. Vocalists/dancers Donna DeLory and Nicki Harris deserve some of this credit, as does audio director Keith Cohen.
Throughout her career, Madonna has consistently challenged herself, and in doing so she’s constantly evolving.
She has irked the P.C. Police many times, and “The Girlie Show” is no exception — having caused quite a storm in many countries, even garnering a special mention from the Pope. This doesn’t seem like the kind of show he’d be attending, considering it includes nudity, sexual reenactments and a “prayer” asking God to hold off on forecasted rain.
With a limited U.S. tour already completed, this was many fans’ only chance to see “The Girlie Show.”