Friday, April 2, 2010


How much you like Madonna's Sticky and Sweet Tour CD/DVD set is very much dependent on how much you liked her Hard Candy album.  I didn't particularly find the 2008 album memorable, hence the thirteen track audio disc in this set didn't leave much of an impression on me even after seeing the show live.  Although musically is it interesting to hear some of the more sparse album edits amped-up with a full band, it's still not enough to save the weaker material.  

Madonna has a few interesting tricks up her sleeve here though including the not-often performed enough Human Nature where she randomly blurts out statements like "Fuck the rain!!!" and "I'm so not sorry!!!", seeming a little out of context without the visual pairing.  She takes her 1990 classic Vogue and skilfully mashes it together with more recent 4 Minutes, which proves very entertaining.  She's Not Me not-so-subtly targets a woman whom Madonna expresses feelings of being threatened by, asking the audience "Ladies, have you ever had a best friend that wanted to do everything you wanted to do?  Including fuck your boyfriend?!?".  God bless Her Madgesty.  How embarassing.

Massive 2000 hit Music is given a few updates with a new electro bass line thrown into the mix, along with some theatrics and moments of moaning.  She finally hits her best stride half-way through the show with Justin Timerlake-penned Devil Wouldn't Recognize You as her voice is warmed-up after straining a bit to reach the notes on some of the earlier numbers like Vogue.   From here the show steps-up to a new level of theatrical with misguided Spanish Lesson aptly being performed in Argentina, where these recordings were taken from.  La Isla Bonita interestingly gets mashed-up with Lela Pala Tutu, a Romanian Gypsy number and the band finally gets to join in on the festivities.  It seems odd at this point though because the show has gone from urban to Romanian.

You Must Love Me from Evita admittedly sounds much better than her rendition of it in Toronto's Air Canada Centre, which was very pitchy.  The disc's finest moment comes late in the show with an updated version of Like a Prayer, mashed together with Meck's Feels Like Home. You had to have been at the show to fully experience this number with the lasers being projected into the audience and everybody on their feet.  The disc is completed with Pharrell Williams-produced Give it 2 Me, adding elements of record scratching and a boost of velocity.  The track really should have been a bigger hit than it was.  She ends the show defiantly yelling, "Nobody's gonna stop  me!".  Yes, indeed.

Sadly, recordings of Miles Away and Ray of Light, which were very well done live, are not on this audio disc.  I recall her giving a scathing shout-out to ex-husband Guy Ritchie at her Toronto show on the former, "This song is dedicated to the emotionally retarded", just as she was going through her divorce. Loved that. 

The set comes with a gorgeous booklet of tour photos and we haven't even touched upon the DVD portion of the set yet which features the full experience, and it is a visual spectacle of LED wonder, whereas the audio disc contains highlights only.  On the DVD disc, you also get Bonus Footage including a cover of Katy Perry's I Kissed a Girl and Dance 2Night, which I thought was one of the few listenable tracks on Hard Candy.  If I had the choice though as a consumer, I would much rather opt for Madonna's beyond excellent Celebration: The Video Collection two-disc DVD set over this, although the Sticky and Sweet Tour CD/DVD set surely is entertaining enough for its value pricing.   Even if it is tardy in its arrival.  Grade: B+

To view some of my pics from Madonna's Sticky and Sweet Tour from Toronto October 2008, click here.

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