I’m not religious, but she makes me want to pray.
Several minutes after 10 PM, the lights dropped at the TD Garden in Boston on Tuesday night as a group of hooded priests huddled around a massive censer, praying quietly to themselves. Behind them, a giant cross with the words “MDNA” brightly burned on the screen. Slowly, the vessel–now smoking with incense–was hoisted into the air by a giant rope, eventually swinging madly just above the audience in the pit to the shrieks of both awe and actual terror below.
After more “Isaac”-like chanting from the priests, the MDNA cross behind them slowly split open to reveal a figure kneeling inside of a floating prayer room, hidden behind a white veil. As it drew closer into the stadium, the ever-familiar Act of Contrition began to pour into the speakers. “Oh my God.” A shiver ran through the crowd. “Oh my God.” we heard on repeat–or was it just the crowd? “Oh my God.”
Suddenly, the priests began to run across the stage. And just as quickly, the figure inside the chamber began to rise, grabbing at something and turning toward the sheet. The synthesizers of “Girl Gone Wild” blared into the speakers, the sheet turned to glass, and shattered. And there she was: Madonna–gun in hand–cocked, loaded and ready to go.
After all of the noise and hot air that erupted from the Internet following her live performances around the release of the album six months ago, I was slightly concerned as I arrived at Irving Plaza on Friday night that a live Lana Del Rey might not actually be as compelling as the girl on record that I so deeply adore.
I was wrong: Television does Lana no justice.
I’ve been to quite a few concerts this summer and looking back, it’s funny to think about the differences in the crowds.
At Britney Spears, there were gay men in glittery eyeshadow and booty shorts all around me. At Jack’s Mannequin and Guster, the audience consisted of suburban white kids with backwards baseball caps, flip-flops and far too many popped collars. And at Sara Bareilles’ sold out show last night at Central Park’s outdoor Rumsey Playfield venue, the crowd was comprised entirely of hipsters in thrift store-purchased 500 Days of Summer-inspired floral print dresses and PBR-stained moccasins.
“How many of you are you listening to the show outside of the venue?” Sara yelled into her microphone. “This one’s for you!” she proclaimed as she started beating her tambourine and eased into an immaculate cover of Mumford and Sons’ “Little Lion Man.”
As the countdown trails to zero and the lights plummet into total darkness, the screen above the stage fills with the image of Spears–the Femme Fatale. Brandishing a gun, she feverishly bolts past security cameras; her signature blonde locks bobbing up and down as she scales barbed-wire fences and shoots at her pursuers as only a true Badassney could.
She is escaping–running away from a S.W.A.T. team, while deliciously dolled up in a full glitz outfit. (Don’t all super sexy assassins incorporate a little glitter into their wardrobe?)
Ultimately she’s caught at some point and wrestled to the ground, kicking and screaming all the way down. But as she’s unwillingly slammed over the hood of a police car, she glares mischievously into the windshield at us and purrs seductively: “I’m not that innocent.”
Just at that moment, the screens above the stage immediately begin to split in half and smoke pours from within as the Holy Spearit herself comes rolling in on a giant metal “Hold It Against Me” platform. Glittering, though still to dark to see her, she stands locked and loaded–awaiting the moment as the driving beat starts to pulsate through the arena. And then, although no one could possibly hear it above all the shrieking, she fires: “Hey, over there…”
As the bright blue LED screens lighting up the Agganis Arena in Boston on Friday night began to fill up with bubbles and the silhouettes of a dozen muscly mermen, a handful of dancers slowly crept up the coliseum staircase and bowed in reverence as a giant structure began to ascend from below.
Was it a gaggles of water nymphs? Poseidon himself, perhaps? Nay, ‘Twas Mighty Aphrodite–Miss Kylie Minogue herself–arriving like the goddess she is for all to see and adore.