City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Madonna flaunts her assets at Philips Arena

Madonna still has sass. Photo: Robb D. Cohen/

Madonna still has sass. Photo: Robb D. Cohen/

Overheard in the ladies room near the end of the Madonna show: “She used to be good. Now she’s just so…weird.”

That one of the most polarizing figures in pop music history is being classified as unconventional is hardly news. Madonna became Madonna not because of her limited vocal ability or creative dance moves – she did it based on an unparalleled ability to provoke, a shrewd business mind and smart songwriting collaborations that helped her create dozens of ageless pop nuggets.

Now she’s 54, keenly aware that she won’t be able to perform a two-hour equivalent of a Broadway spectacle nearly nightly for six months – this “MDNA” tour launched overseas in May and wraps Tuesday after two nights in Miami – or that stripping down to a black bra and underwear, as she did toward the end of Saturday’s Philips Arena show, isn’t going to be met with catcalls and cheers for her impressively taut assets forever.

Those obvious realizations explain the throw-it-all-at-the-wall grandiosity in this show, a tremendous production that, at times, featured drummers suspended over the stage, super-cool see-sawing lighted cubes, 15 dancers in various forms of gaudy costumes and bare-chested muscles (the men, that is) and a gleefully nutso fashion show during “Vogue.” Ringmaster Madonna barely had time to sip from her bottle of water, and, while she can be criticized for many things – such as the rampant Auto-Tune and questionable singing during high-octane dance numbers – she always exhausts herself onstage for the benefit of a top-notch show.

The extravaganza was divided into four sections/themes that initially contained a stupid amount of violence. “Revolver” and “Gang Bang” featured her brandishing an assault weapon, waves of blood cascading across the seemingly mile-high video screens behind her every time she knocked off a bad guy like a black-clad Bond villainess.

In fact, much of the first quarter of the show was like watching a Cirque du Soleil production. You stood there with your brows furrowed in puzzlement, but didn’t want to look away for fear of missing that one meaningful second. Then again, judging by the number of people nearby who spent most of the show texting and flipping through photos on their phones, maybe this time Madonna veered so far off course, not even she could temper our technological ADD tendencies.

Hey, Tommy Lee, check this out! Photo: Robb D. Cohen/

Hey, Tommy Lee, check this out! Photo: Robb D. Cohen/

But if there is a legitimate gripe about this tour, it isn’t that she played songs from “MDNA” – it’s her latest album, what did you expect? –- but that only a handful of those songs are good enough to warrant the spotlight.

The stripped, lovely “Masterpiece,” performed with Basque trio Kalakan, was a highlight of the tour de pomp (which began at 10:30 p.m. – a fact mentioned frequently since the tour began), and her snarky playground chant, “I Don’t Give A,” which featured Nicki Minaj on video, might have been a hit in another era of music.

But many others – “I’m Addicted,” “Girl Gone Wild” – are forgettable efforts while “Gang Bang” is merely an annoying refrain over a throbbing beat and screaming guitars.

Of course there will be fans from Saturday’s sold-out event who will grouse that Madonna didn’t perform enough of her “hits,” and they wouldn’t be wrong. But for the past decade, no Madonna tour has included more than a handful of ‘80s radio fare, and most of those songs were recast into unrecognizability.

At least on Saturday, fans received a mostly faithful “Papa Don’t Preach,” a rousing “Vogue” and a traditional roots version of “Open Your Heart” (again with Kalakan). The one true misstep was turning “Like a Virgin” into a supposedly sultry torch song, which Madonna performed in the aforementioned bra and panties, first flat on her stomach at the edge of the catwalk and then atop a piano, “Fabulous Baker Boys”-style. Of course it would sound ridiculous if she sang the song in its original incarnation, but turning it into sludge wasn’t the way to go.

Madonna shakes her pom poms. Photo: Robb D. Cohen/

Madonna shakes her pom poms. Photo: Robb D. Cohen/

For those yearning for vintage Madonna, she made an appearance early in the show, when, clad in her drum majorette outfit and offering some pom-pom routines not likely to be seen on the sidelines of any Friday night high school football game, she dove into “Express Yourself.” In the middle of the song, Madonna snuck in the chorus of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” proving how it swipes the same melody line, then twisted the knife in that perfectly Madonna way by adding the chorus of her own “She’s Not Me.”

Point taken. And the point is, even when Madonna is creating and performing a show that is more in her own self-interest than placating fans who still wear lace gloves and bows to her concerts, it’s a necessary evolution.

We might not always agree with her direction, but, as Minaj reminds at the end of “I Don’t Give A”: “There’s only one queen – and that’s Madonna.”

Check out our gallery for more photos from the show.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

By Melissa Ruggieri, Atlanta Music Scene

67 comments Add your comment

peira o

November 18th, 2012
6:45 am

madonna has been around since 1982 starting with the single everybody (great track)
she will always be around, lady gaga will be long gone and madonna will still be here
gaga is just a copy cat why cant she get her own style like madonna always has

reinvention is madonna`s middle name
a fan for 30 years and will always be loyal to madonna
love her or hate her you cant ignore her!!!!!


November 18th, 2012
7:00 am

If you ask her fans why Madonna is Madonna they will say her music. If you ask her non fans they say everything else. I love Madonna’s music and beautiful soothing voice.

jonathan drakeley

November 18th, 2012
7:17 am

couldnt agree more piera….. madonna is a LEGEND unsupassed in our lifetime and if anyone ever does Gaga wont be the one to do it … least of all by copying madonna

Pretentious Hairdresser

November 18th, 2012
7:34 am

Time to call it a day Madonna


November 18th, 2012
8:16 am

Actually, I liked the way she did ‘Like A Virgin’ and how she mixed it with ‘Love Spent’. From a theatrical perspective, she was doing performing it in way that an older woman looks back on her past and mixing in ‘Love Spent’ was the perfect way to do it. Over all it was a great show!!! When you go to a Madonna show you can bet that you are never going to get a greatest hits show. She’s never done that and probably never will.


November 18th, 2012
8:23 am

3rd time I’ve seen her show over the years. What used to be fun and sexy has become strange and kinda sad.


November 18th, 2012
8:27 am

Oh Pretentious Hairdresser……..your name says it all. I would venture to say it’s actually time for u to hang it up, and there is a bit of envy and jealousy there……green is not a nice color on anyone, especially when it relates to celebrating someone else’s career and unforgettable and unsurpassed success in the industry


November 18th, 2012
8:44 am

Enter your comments here


November 18th, 2012
9:05 am

The show was spectacular and Madonna was on fire last night! No one puts on a show like Madonna, NO ONE. I was left energized and inspired on my way home and a little awestruck. What a legend, what a show! I love u Madonna!

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]


November 18th, 2012
9:34 am

Madonna looked great and can still move and when she sang without the synthesizer her voice was still good. Ok, there is the good. Now the bad. You would think at a Madonna concert energy would be high with everyone up dancing throughout the concert. I have never, ever been to a concert where the majority of the crowd just looked bored. I would say no more than 1/3 of the audience were into what she was performing. The only time I saw or felt any energy was during Like a Prayer and by then it was just too late. Mark her off my bucket list and thank God I don’t have to see her again.

H Kerr

November 18th, 2012
9:58 am

Every madonna show I have been to has been a let down and half way through you get bored and fed up. So again I thought give her the benefit of a doubt and I paid to see her 1st ever show in Scotland.. Again another let down, people were bored, she was late coming on, she cut her show due to being late.. I wrote and asked for my money back as it was that bad. The swipe at lady gaga just goes to show how jealous madonna must be of her gaga has had 2 albums out and can play to 50,000 per show ohh and she sings live during her shows. Maybe madonna needs to take a gaga master class.


November 18th, 2012
10:30 am

saw the show in New York and will see it again tomorrow in Miami. Such a Phenomenal experience and a truly a tour like no other. Madonna fans have learned to expect the unexpected and most embrace and respect her for her artistic integrity and fearlessness. .Her shows a more of a theatrical event intended to entertain and inspire and at oftentimes to provoke a reaction rather than your traditional balls to the wall hit driven rock/pop concert . For her the music is the soundtrack , integral and important……. but so is the message and how it is conveyed . We should continue to expect no compromise or regrets…..she is nobody’s b#tch and will continue to inspire and entertain and also pave the way for those acts that follow her as long as she has something to say and has the stamina.


November 18th, 2012
11:11 am

PLEASE Madonna is the Queen, she continues to make great art. SHe gies you more than a conventional rock concert and because she continues to be such and amazing artist, she doesnt have to rely on her oldies to get the crowd going. I went twice and saw nothing but people going off and having fun. Maybe you were in the nosebleeds, cause nobody was texting where i was sitting

Timothy Marrs

November 18th, 2012
11:21 am

You are one tired writer. Most of the negative comments came from white trash.


November 18th, 2012
11:42 am

So many of the positive comments are true. However, I don’t think anyone is so talented and famous on their own. She owes a lot to her fans / followers and last night showed very little respect or graditude towards them. She was 3 hours late and complained that we weren’t energetic enough. Fans wanting to enjoy her performance were subjected to everything from political opinion to jealous rants about other singers. No doubt this woman is in incredible shape but, she was way too proud of herself which was evident by her exposed ass and Madonna cheer.


November 18th, 2012
11:42 am

Lady Gaga is currently enjoying the kind of success that Madonna had at that point in her career. Can Lady Gaga keep up that kind of reinvention like Madonna has been able to do? Hopefully.

Since Madonna doesn’t “need” the money at this point, I assume that she is doing it for the adoration of the fans?


November 18th, 2012
12:29 pm



November 18th, 2012
12:50 pm

The slow ballad version on Like A Virgin was amazing. As was the beautiful “love spent” that followed. There aren’t a lot of pop singers who could have pulled that off. That’s the kind of perfomance only a legend can get away with….anyone else would look foolish. She does need to drop candy shop and human nature….really weak songs, being out deeper and deeper instead. Fun concert overall.


November 18th, 2012
1:00 pm

This could be her last tour and she pulled out all the stops. Comparred to the snooze factor of a Mariah Carey or Beyonce concert, its amazing she still commands the world stage. A reported billion dollar seven year Las Vegas contract is on the backburner for the Queen Of Pop.Lets just face it, everybody else in the last quarter of a century has coasted on her mighty wake.


November 18th, 2012
1:10 pm

this was my 5th time seeing her in concert, so there is no doubt that I love her. Her last tour (Sticky & Sweet tour) was very, very good. Last night was a let down. There were major sound issues. She used tons of auto tune, and there were very few highlights. I think the biggest issue, ouside of the sound problems, was the source material itself. The new CD is one of my least favorite of hers, where as Hard Candy had some great songs to pull from for that tour. The stage was beautiful, however. Thank goodness for the opening DJ set from Paul Oakenfold. That was Awesome!


November 18th, 2012
1:22 pm

Madonna is not a “queen”, she’s a JOKER! The biggest waste of perfectly good human skin there is, well, other than Lady Gag Gag. The only people with less credibility are those who would pay to go see this garbage. Any entertainer who would strip down almost naked just to get contributions for the Sandy victims, has to be lower than the lowest. I have heard she did this unashamedly at a recent concert. She and LGG both would come in 9th and 10th in a 5 woman beauty and talent contest.


November 18th, 2012
2:00 pm

I’ve followed Madonna since the very beginning. I feel privileged to have seen her on tour 99 times plus Live Aid, Live 8, Live Earth, movies, plays in NY and London, album promos, some tv shows etc etc. Far from being bored I find her an inspiration. I accept she has faults but don’t we all? There simply is no-one else like her. She has always been so focused and what I love is she pushes peoples’ buttons. I met someone in the late 80’s who was a friend of hers at Uni. She told me Madonna then was exactly the same. She was incredibly hard working and insisted her goal was to wake up the world
and to do that you “I need to make people pay attention to me. That I will do, you watch!” . In fact she has done just that in her way , and 33 years on we are still talking about her. She can still get people to donate $60,000 to a disaster fund by just throwing money at her on stage. She provokes you but she gives you so much in return. Yes … I guess I am a little biased now but at least I have seen other artists so can measure my bias with some accuracy. . Having seen Beyonce, Kylie, Katie P once I’m happy with that. Lady Gaga I walked out of half way through as I found it boring, shabby and badly put together. The only other artist I have on repeat is Pink. Seen her twice and enjoyed it immensely. But no other artist gives me the experience of a Madonna show. I know what to expect, a spectacle of energy and innovation which will leave me buzzing ( and thinking). . I have my favourite tours obviously but I am never disappointed. Don’t think for one minute that this is her last tour! If you don’t like her brand then just stay at home. She’s not changing it for anything – Thank God!


November 18th, 2012
2:02 pm

Was there and at Charlotte… the show was amazing, Mypatootie that is a sad comment she was far from being a Joker Lady and her raising money to help people who lost so much was wonderful she is bring awareness to a very important cause! Plus she gives millions of her own money to these causes.


November 18th, 2012
2:07 pm

Lady Gaga isn’t currently enjoying the kind of success that Madonna had at that point in her career. In 1987 Madonna did the Who’s that Girl tour and she filled stadiums in all the world. This year Lady Gaga only after 4 years was obliged to cancel some stadiums in Europe and she sang in small arena because she couldn’t sell tickets (Nice in France, Bulgaria, flop in Tallin, in Romania etc ect) in south America her tour is a huge flop. Lady gaga is only a doll manufactured by the media, her real succes isn’t so big. Madonna is a real legend and an ICON. And please Lady Gaga doesn’t sing all live, she has a lot of playback and pre.recorded


November 18th, 2012
2:16 pm

What I loved the most about last night’s show; people watching(girls being girls, boys being girls, Europeans being Europeans, South Americans being fun), Madonna doing Madonna along with the two large bags of cinnamon almonds my girls and I devoured. I’ll never look Like a Virgin again with my sweet tooth. And all those vodka and cranberry juices


November 18th, 2012
2:38 pm

Indeed, she may never do a “greatest hits” tour, but she is an entertainer. That is what last night was for me…..a show (albeit one weird freakin show). Yes, there was the freak show prior with so many in “costume.” but, I sorta expected that. However, I have to say that at 54, while she looked great, the tendency to just try to shock has worn thin. I will say that about any performer. Look, Eminem will look pretty damn silly if he keeps that “I hate my mother and everybody else” schtick going on in his forties. People paid BIG (and I mean LOTS) of money to see her last night and expected to witness HITS. I heard so many people pissed that she didn’t perform many of her hits. At $400 a ticket on the floor and lower bowl, they have a legit beef. As Gene Simmons recently said in an interview, not to quote, there is a reason KISS does all its hits…..that is fans want. Otherwise, you will eventually fade into obscurity. My fear is that the schtick Madonna is pushing is inching her closer to that direction.


November 18th, 2012
2:51 pm

Piera, the only “reinvention” in Madonna’s routine now is the plastic surgery and 21 year old boyfriends. She is past it.


November 18th, 2012
3:14 pm

Were we at the same show? People around me were dancing and having a blast all night….it was fantastic. I’m glad she did so many oldies… you sound so cynical, I think no matter what she would have done you wouldnt like. That show rocked (and Im only a half-way Madonna fan and not a pop fan at all).

Stephen Cole

November 18th, 2012
4:13 pm

Melissa, Melissa–are you trying out to be one of the hosts on “Entertainment Tonight” or something? No, you’re just trying to sell newspapers, aren’t you? You provide a certain amount of info, but you have no more sensibility of Madonna as a artist than a jaybird. And, unforgivably, you left out the highlight of the evening: the magnificent, soul-stirring rendition of what is arguably her greatest song,”Like a Prayer,” which had 20,000 people on their feet in ecstasy. Go back to school, Melissa.


November 18th, 2012
4:15 pm

Madonna promised to “take it all off” onstage if Mr. Obama was reelected. I’m wondering if she intends to go through with it. (Espescially since she thought he was a Muslim, and unlike most people who thought so, regarded it as a GOOD thing.)


November 18th, 2012
4:59 pm

Well—–she is great as ussal, I have been stupid before but not again like when Kevin Cosner called her neat, I go with awesome dance and clear , forbarent voice and nock out body.

[...] been reading reviews of the show last night and some people are really trashing it?!?  Madonna never churns out a greatest hits show. If you aren’t familiar with her latest album [...]


November 18th, 2012
5:27 pm

I was just counting the seconds before some one mentioned Obama’s reelection. For four more years in Every topic we have to see Obama’s name no matter the topic, sounds a little Obessed with the man dont you think if you have to place him in Every Topic no matter what the subject is. Some of you will never let it rest will you? Get Over the election ok? Life goes on.
Now Sticking to the Topic: Madonna

Did not attend the concert but reading through those that did, lets me know I that I wont be attending Any of her concerts along with Priince who I hear is another 80s icon that refuses to do the Hits that Made Him who he is. It is the Hits that made Madonna who she is.
As one post said paying $400 and not hearing many hits is a legit reason to be pissed. Personally I think its downright disrepectful I dont care if they only paid 40 dollars. Changing classic hits and messing with the original melody of a song is Foolish because it is because of the Old melody the song became a Hit and the fans Remember the Melodies of the songs which spark memories of where they were at that time of their lives and what they were doing.

Changing the melody defeats the purpose of Taking the audience Back to what made them fall in love with you in the first place. Thanks Folks for attending telling me the atmoshere of the show and saving me some money. I can watch her on Youtube and enjoy the Madonna I fell originally fell in love with. As for her new stuff..Not even interested in watching that Free on Youtube, and from the comments on this blog, it dont appear I am missing much at her Current tours.

You guys saved me some money because I did want to see her live because I never saw her live. Probably wont now unless she adds and oldie spot. then I May still chance it. But knowing Madonna, like Prince. both are more into their own Worlds and always have been it probably wont happen. I will say Michael was always about his Fans and gave you the Hits along with the new stuff. He was a Real Unselfish Entertainer who gave his all to his audiences when performing LIVE..


November 18th, 2012
6:13 pm

Went to the show last night and traveled four hours to see it. I thoroughly enjoyed the tour. I’m 19 years old and have been a Madonna fan for about 2 years since my aunt introduced me to her music. I personally like her more recent albums (Everything from 2000’s “Music”) better than her older stuff and I ADORE the “MDNA.” That being said, all of this is a huge reason as to why I enjoyed this tour so much. I was the only person in my area that knew the words to literally every song she sang (From “Like A Virgin” to “Revolver”), and I also LOVED every song she performed. This mixed with the show-stopping theatricality and provocation made four an enjoyable romp. However, I understand why water-cooler 80s Madonna fans were disappointed in this show. She didn’t perform many “hits” and the ones she did perform were completely remastered. I loved this. But I understand why so many people were disappointed. As Madonna said so herself in an interview “I don’t have anything left to prove, but I certainly have a lot left to say–” as long as Madonna is still crafting new messages, there won’t be a “Greatest Hits Tour” for a while, if ever.


November 18th, 2012
7:10 pm

Melissa Ruggieri! Nice to read your words! I remember you from Richmond and didn’t realize I was reading your review until the end. I agreed with much of what you said back in RIC and I agree with you now. I saw the show in NYC and loved it because you could tell Madonna was giving it her all. I’m the biggest fan there is of Madonna. I won’t deny it. And I’ll be the first to admit I long for a tour with a few more of the old stand-out hits, but as you say, Madonna is evolving and we’re along for that ride. If she only performed old classics, people would say she was relying too much on old songs, so she’ll never really win. She just has to do her own thing. I won’t complain about that!


November 18th, 2012
7:12 pm

After reading some of the comments on here, it’s no wonder this country is in such a mess, and that’s not even counting the current President.

Jason Peterson

November 18th, 2012
7:48 pm

Her new version of Like A Virgin sounded Hot man. Dude, Madonna Rocks!


November 18th, 2012
8:03 pm

She like the Kardashians I wish would just go away!


November 18th, 2012
8:11 pm

Madonna scares people because she does what she pleases. She’s a universal star – a powerhouse. No, she is not like any of the Kardashian women.


November 18th, 2012
8:22 pm

Drove 4 hours one way to see Madonna at Phillips on Saturday. I will have to say the show could have been better had she started on time (3 hours past show time) Fu**ing bitch…should have printed 11pm on ticket if you are not showing till then…Sound system in this venue sucked…Have been to 4 other Madonna concerts and they were great….Only remember 1 time she did not start on time and that was due to tech. problems.

Save your money on this show…will not EVER return…$350.00 for a ticket??? are you kidding me!!!


November 18th, 2012
8:49 pm

When I first saw the photo at the top of the story I thought it was Rose Marie from the old Dick Van Dyke Show. Seriously!

amy lyles

November 18th, 2012
9:28 pm

Your review of Madonnas concert last night could possibly be the worse review of someone of her statute ever. The concert was amazing and our wording describing her theatrical performance is piss poor. You should find another day job sweetie.


November 18th, 2012
10:18 pm

I wasn’t able to to attend Madonna’s concert in Atlanta. Unfortunately, the website scalpers bought the house out once the tickets were for sale and essentially made a profit off of it.


November 18th, 2012
10:31 pm

Not sure if Melissa Ruggieri saw the same show the rest of us saw. Clearly she has issues with the creative talents of the worlds top grossing pop star. The crowd went crazy for Madonna’s reinterpretation of old music. This is something she has done for the past several shows. We know that, we expect it, we love it. Sorry, but to call a number that had the crowd cheering and screaming for more “sludge” is nothing more than bias and not at all realistic. One can find that very rendition on countless You Tube videos. This tour reset music industry records. Records already held by Madonna. Thank God she still puts it out there. Maybe someday soon we will have another star to rival her spectacular shows. Until then, Long Live the Queen. It was an awesome show.


November 18th, 2012
10:45 pm

Say what you want about Madonna. There is only ONE Madonna. Period. She has been around since the early 80s while other artists have come and gone…These new short-lived artists will come and go and Madonna’s legacy will still stand.

There are ahandful 50-somethings that look like her and move like her. She danced and moved practically through the entire show (except for wardrobe changes). Like her or not, you can’t deny the respect she’s due. Vogue on that critics and haters!!


November 18th, 2012
11:38 pm


Elie cell # 6784785732

November 19th, 2012
1:43 am

…they were rude , disrespectful, mean, hateful..They made everyone miserable ..they rained on Madonna’s parade the whole time…The white officer pushed me twice…I complained to officer with last initial D totally ignored us…they made every fan in those isles miserable the whole night…I talked to head security , filed complained with officer chinda dabney. obviously those two officers hate Madonna , they were and acted miserably the during the whole course of her concert…I will resume my complain for abuse, I hope many will join me who were in same isle section..Love you Madonna .

Elie cell # 6784785732

November 19th, 2012
2:03 am

Madonna was screaming for energy last night she was not receiving it from front section simply because two Phillips arena officers made our night living bell, those two officers one female short dikish hair style white female, one side of het hair jaw line length, other side short above ear level, she treated us as if we were in concetratoon camps yelling pushing, pointing fingers at us…My seat was in section 6 N 5..those two officers specially the white dike one yelled and pushed me every time I stood at isle next to my seat…When Madonna asked to open front section to invite fans, we tried to go, but that rude ignorent officer wouldn’t let us..then the crowds were behind me when she started to yell at us to go back to our seats, I couldn’t back off she started to F—n push me.when I asked officer D to call security, she ignored me the whole time..THOSE TWO OFFICERS SHOULD NEVER WORK AT PHILLIPS .


November 19th, 2012
3:10 am

I “Google” Madonna just about everyday to get the latest news on her performance in her MDNA tour. You see, I had bought 2 flash tickets for her Houston show one of which i gave away/sacrificed / transferred online to a friend of a friend to witness her spectacular performance for her second show. I can only imagine all the hard work preparing for such a tour and performing lots before legions of fans. Some people were not happy with her late appearance–about 2 hours and 45 minutes late but any true Madonna fan will know that she never graces the stage on time. It would not be right if she did anyways because one hour is not enough time to get all those fans situated–some fans show up late themselves–getting all that human traffic in the arena–fans are buying food and drinks and perhaps emptying their bowels in the process. I requested vacation hours just for her concert. It was worth every penny. Every dollar! She gave an high energy almost flawless performance with her dancers as most fans including myself stood up and danced through just about the entire show. The reviews from the Houston Chronicle proves just that and I was glad to be a part of that event. Absolutely no regrets.