Madonna shoots late at the Pepsi Center, but still kills 10/18/12 (photos and review)

Madonna has reached a point in her spun-out career where it doesn’t matter what she does in the arena as long as she eventually shows up. The diva could make a bologna sandwich on stage and probably get a standing ovation just for adding mayonnaise.

Her image is frozen. She’s sung, done and shocked so much that anything left at age 54, a new album or tour, can only be a small piece of her long history: fun, nostalgic – a blast even — but not crucial.

Thursday’s show at the Pepsi Center was somewhere between blast and baloney. It did feel like a commercial for the latest album, “MDNA,” but the album hasn’t been received so well and that makes for deflated circumstances, a feel that the best is not yet to come and everybody in the room is getting older. When you’re a middle-aged gal who has taken the time to dress up “Like a Virgin” a lack of enthusiasm can easily to turn you from life of the party to washed up. I’m talking about the audience here, not the performer.


Madonna, of course, treats her fans badly. Her 8 p.m. show doesn’t start until 10:40. Experienced concertgoers who know she will do this time their alcohol accordingly. Those who don’t, and these are the folks who have stayed loyal despite the “MDNA” dip, get irritated. In the men’s room, away from their “Like a Virgin” dates, the men are full of “BTCH, FCK, SHT” about the situation. Judge them harshly, but they do have to work in the morning.

That Madonna can turn the situation around soon after the music starts is testimony to just how much presence she brings to the room. The first song is new “Girl Gone Wild,” but it comes with that old feeling, the sexy dancers, the costumes, the irreverence, and it gives people what they paid for in minutes. She looks great, of course, in tight, black everything.

It was nonstop from there, and full of moments stupid and amusing at the same time. Madonna dressed like a majorette for “Turn Up the Radio” “Express Yourself,” Madonna turning “Open Your Heart” into a village folk dance, Madonna dancing with guns and shooting up bad guys during “Revolver.” It was a bloody scene, particularly tasteless in Colorado these days, but all cartoon; if folks got upset, they were supposed to.

Audiences got a mix of what they expected. Pointy bras and drag queens doing “Vogue;” dancers in gas masks and graveyards. A gospel choir appeared for “Like a Prayer.” AccuWeather could have predicted that one.

But there were nice surprises, too. A slowed-down, bass-pumped “Human Nature” made a decent song better. “Like a Virgin” arrived as a waltz, with only a pianist and violinist as backup. Madonna made an overly sincere, non-partisan plea for people to vote, but then turned the moment slinky and revealing by showing off an “Obama” tattoo on her back. There were cheers and some boos.

The singing was what it was, but the dancing wowed. The sets, scenes, lights and projections were as good as these things get. Everything reached its peak at the end during “I’m a Sinner.” With the help of bouncing, hydraulic boxes and projections, the stage suddenly morphed into three trains barreling down a track. Dancers hopped, rolled and flung across the moving cars.

In the middle of the action was Madonna. She might have showed up late, but she showed up big. At 54, packing the Pepsi Center. Frozen for sure, but still hot.

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Ray Mark Rinaldi is an arts reporter at The Denver Post and a regular contributor to Reverb.

Seth McConnell is a member of YourHub at The Denver Post and a new contributor to Reverb.

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