June 20, 2004
From the NY Times
Who can a star rely on to create a spiritually enlightened, Pilates - inspired, military - saluting, career - extending international road show? Jamie King has created pop spectaculars for Prince, Ricky Martin, Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez. Still, directing and choreographing Madonna's Reinvention Tour, which opened here late last month, made all his previous assignments look easy. By the time it completes its three - month run, with 55 concerts in the United States, Canada and Europe, it is expected to gross 0 million.
Mr. King, 32, has worked with Madonna since she asked him to choreograph her video for 'Human Nature' in 1996. He recently talked with Valerie Gladstone.
VALERIE GLADSTONE Describe how you and she come up with ideas.
JAMIE KING We've been working together for a long time, so we don't have to go through the whole introductory process. it's more like 'Jamie, I saw this Ninja movie, and it was cool, and it might be cool to do something like that on tour.' Or, 'My kids have been watching 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,' maybe we could do something like the dance with bamboo sticks from that as a transition into 'Get Into the Groove.' '
GLADSTONE What happens when you disagree?
KING We had one major disagreement. Only a few weeks ago, I told her I thought she should replace a song she had already relearned with "Material Girl." She'd spent a lot of time learning the other song on the guitar. She'd also said publicly that she would never sing "Material Girl" again. So I had to convince her that it was a bigger hit and worked much better at the end of a particular sequence.
GLADSTONE Were you worried that the song wouldn't go over?
KING If the audience hadn't responded enthusiastically, I'd never have heard the end of it.
GLADSTONE What did you do after choosing the 12 dancers?
KING I set up four rooms in the Culver City Studios: the band room where Madonna worked on the songs with the musical director and the musicians; the choreography room where we developed the dances; the technical room, where I had the theatrical props, like the swings for the acrobatic dances. That's also where we rehearsed the fire handling and rifle choreography and skateboarding.
In another room, I had the entire stage taped out to scale with mock screens and elements of the set, all made of wood. Madonna wants to know exactly what everything will actually look like in materials as close to the finals as possible.
GLADSTONE The show has a variety of dance styles: tango, popping, a Scottish bagpipe procession and something called the krump. What's the krump?
KING Madonna likes me to bring her the newest thing. The krump is very in - your - face, very angry and confrontational, with the arms spread wide in a threatening manner. My dancers told me about it. It looks like you're fighting. it's a way for kids in tough neighborhoods to express their aggression, without really fighting. That's what she and I like about it.
June 18, 2004
BY JAY LUSTIG
Star - Ledger Staff
NEW YORK - - Bagpipers and skateboarders. Yoga poses and a T - shirt reading "Kabbalists do it better." Rap and country music. Angry political statements and giddy party anthems.
Madonna's Wednesday night show at Madison Square Garden had all of the above, and more. A Madonna tour is, by definition, a spectacle. But she has never presented anything quite as dizzying and dazzling as her current "re - Invention Tour," which has four more dates at the Garden, as well as two at the Continental Airlines Arena.
Dancers turned into acrobats, spinning on swings high above the stage. They also breakdanced and tap - danced as images of Tarot cards flashed behind them. At two points in the show, a V - shaped ramp descended from the rafters and Madonna and the dancers ran out to the middle of the arena floor.
Without an album of new material to draw from, Madonna added new twists to some of her old songs. "Material Girl" and "Burning Up" took on a new - wave rock feel, and "Deeper and Deeper" became a jazzy ballad. Bagpipes and a filmed Missy Elliott rap were added to "Into the Groove," while "Don't Tell Me" had a strange country - techno interlude.
Madonna sang "Lament," from the rock opera "Evita," from an electric chair and added video footage of a gospel choir to "Like a Prayer." Artful film of entwined, slow - moving, near - naked bodies enhanced the yearning sentiment of the ballad "Frozen."
In general, though, sexual content was kept to a minimum. Madonna seems more interested these days in spirituality and the state of the world.
One of the show's low points came during "Express Yourself." Dancers dressed in military uniforms marched and twirled rifles with projections of tanks and planes behind them. Madonna herself held a rifle above her head as she sang the line, "What you need is a big strong hand to lift you to your higher ground."
One imagines she was making an anti - war statement, but the theatrics didn't make much sense accompanying a song about personal empowerment.
Better to be inscrutable, though, than heavy - handed.
"American Life" was accompanied by a video that showed, among other things, footage of a President Bush lookalike kissing a Saddam Hussein lookalike, and lovingly laying his head on the dictator's shoulder.
Shots of children suffering from malnutrition or violence were projected behind Madonna during her earnest cover of John Lennon's "Imagine." Toward the end of the song, though, happy children were shown, and a Jewish boy and an Arab boy walked off together, arm in arm.
Madonna made her longest speech of the night before this number, encouraging fans to see Michael Moore's upcoming documentary, "Fahrenheit 9/11," which explores links between the families of President Bush and Osama bin Laden.
"I don't think I ever cried so hard at a movie in my life," she said before thanking Moore, who was in the audience.
Later, she offered a more conventional thank - you, dedicating "Crazy for You" to the fans who have stuck by her through her entire career. She then sang a warm, relaxed version of the song. This was the concert's calmest moment, by far.
Then it was back to business as usual, with a manic "Music," featuring hip - hop record scratching, dancers gliding around the stage on conveyor belts, and the word F - R - E - E - D - O - M spelled out on the dancers' butts. The show ended with "Holiday," a celebratory dance - pop tune with prancing on the V - ramp, a blast of confetti, and a final video message: "Reinvent Yourself."
June 18, 2004
See the Material Girl in concert in the city of your choice! Party in the pit and be front and center for Madonna's shocking new tour. Enter now
June 17, 2004
By GLENN GAMBOA
For Madonna, necessity is the mother of "Re - Invention."
Super - savvy culture vulture that she is, the Material Mom knows that if she doesn't re - assert her relevance soon, she could quickly become a fringe best known for writing children's books and being Britney's gal - pal.
On the heels of disappointing sales for her "American Life" album and a hostile reception to her last movie, "Swept Away," the 45 - year - old entertainer has her back against the wall for the first time in her career.
"The Re - Invention Tour" is her way of proving she is not ready to retire to the London mansion with hubby Guy Ritchie and the kids just yet. At Madison Square Garden last night, the first of eight sold - out shows in New York in the next two weeks, she definitely made that point.
Many sing better. Others write better songs. But no one performs better than Madonna especially when she has something to prove.
In the nearly two - hour set, Madonna takes the audience on a whirlwind tour through her 20 - year career. Some songs get shaken up the disco jam "Deeper and Deeper" gets jazzy, "Like a Prayer" gets an electro - country twang and "Material Girl" becomes a pop - punk rave - up. But what is even more impressive is how her elaborate performance art pieces enhance many of the songs. The athletic swinging of her dancers during "Bedtime Story" provides the song a grace that it never would have seen in a straight performance. The intricate moves of her 16 - member dance troupe turned "Into the Groove" into a powerful dance piece instead of simply a dance - pop trifle. "Papa Don't Preach" was filled with playfulness and innocence, even including a ring - around - the - rosie dance.
This is a side of Madonna that she hasn't shown very often, the one that has fun, the one that enjoys the roar of the crowd. She offered genuine appreciation for the cheers much like her decision to bring back songs from her past that she has tired of.
Making peace with her past doesn't mean she's ready to give up on the interests of her present. Kabbala is present in the Hebrew letters that swirl on the big screens behind her and she even sports a t - shirt that says "Kabbalists Do It Better." Her anti - war, anti - Bush beliefs are clearly on display during "American Life," as well as her overwhelming endorsement of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," which she said had her in tears. With this tour, Madonna can give the song her full support unlike last year, when she yanked the video to avoid controversy about complaining about Middle East policies in the middle of the Iraqi war. She was rightfully worried about getting Dixie - Chicked if she proceeded, but as it turned out, her album was basically blacklisted anyway.
If anyone could have waged a successful media campaign to get her anti - war, pro - troops point across, it would be Team Madonna. The Material Mom, however, plays things a little safer, which is also evident on "The Re - Invention Tour."
When Madonna dedicated her ballad "Crazy For You" to all her fans who have "stuck with me through thick and thin for the past 20 years," she short - circuited all the critiques of her 2001 "Drowned World" tour, which was high on drama and production but low on fun and any sort of crowd interaction.
Madonna's latest reinvention may be her best one yet. She has not only become a champion of the underdogs but somehow an underdog herself. And as long as she offers amazing performances like this one, she will have an army of fans backing her up.