On Sunday night, Madonna performed a four-song set at New York’s WorldPride. I think it was one of the most punk-rock things she’s ever done. And I could teach a college course on Madonna history, TBH. Seriously, challenge me to Madonna trivia, and you will know defeat.
Anyway, the set opened with Vogue, Madonna dressed as secret agent Madame X, hovering over a typewriter before breaking out into an elaborate dance routine, her backup dancers dressed just as she was.
The second song was the biggest surprise: “American Life.” From Madonna’s widely-derided album of the same name (Madge has said it’s one of her favorites though), the fiery track even kept the rap bridge intact, which the massive audience seemed to know word-for-word.
Following “American Life,” Madonna spoke to the crowd about the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, and said that she was honored to be a part of the festivities. This led into “God Control,” with impressive choreography and a resounding message about gun control. The set concluded with “I Rise.” The curtain call saw a rainbow flag backdrop with “Resist” written across it.
Madonna was confident, angry, loving, and fun. This wasn’t her most musically impressive set, but it’s among her most politicized, anti-establishment and unvarnished. “American Life” took on new life as a punk track here. The rap thing just didn’t work in 2003–but here, fully aware that many people don’t like the song, Madonna made it into even more of a statement than before. Some of the intricate choreography involved Madonna and her backup dancers waving the middle finger in unison over the “F*ck It” bridge.
This was an intriguing, unexpected and highly spirited set from Madonna. It makes one even more curious about what the Madame X Tour is going to look like.