Hey, it's Albert from Seattle Gay News. Not fully recovered yet from Madonna's smashing concert last night at Vancouver's BC Place Stadium but I'm sure my vocal chords and whistling ears will work themselves back to normal on the train ride back to Seattle.
I walked from my hotel, Loden, two blocks to the Burrard SkyTrain station and arrived at the stadium all within ten minutes. Hundreds of people showed up early, though the masses flooded in about a half hour later. Among the first things I saw when I found my actual seat was a 30-something woman dressed in Madonna's signature "Borderline" hair bow and gloves - I don't think she was trying to impersonate Madge as much as I think she really believed she was a direct descendent of the pop icon's queen-dom.
Behind me, a young woman and mother of two boys (who traded them in for a well-deserved night on the town) said exhuberantly, "this is the best concert I've ever been to and it hasn't even started!". This is what Madonna worship does to people, brings out moms and grandmothers, gay men with friends and gay men with partners and gay men with giddy co-workers or BFFs. But there were also a lot of straight couples, and even straight men chugging beer with their hockey buddies - all here for Ms. Ciccone.
I met a gentleman at the show last night who told me at intermission, just after a DJ spun top 40 favorites at the foot of the stage's catwalk, that Madonna wouldn't be going onstage until 9:30 - at the time he mentioned it to me it was 8:05, and I was already buzzed and fighting the anticipation of my first Material Girl live experience. I chose not to believe him, but in the end he proved to be right. The lights dimmed at 9:25, and several minutes following a sharp hi-tech introduction on the jumbotron screens, out came Madonna.
The crowd went nuts, especially the floor crowd who were on foot the entire time before Madge hit the stage. I screamed in delight, never minded if it bothered the irriritating too-reserved chick on my right side - if anything, I raised my pitch because this was the mother of all shows, the diva of all divas, Madonna!
Being a newbie to the Material Girl's live performances, I knew beforehand that she'd reinvent older favorites but I was still hopeful they'd sound similar to the way they did when I began my adoration of her. "La Isla Bonita" was done flamenco-style, and I loved the choreography but not neccesarily the whole number. "Into the Groove" seemed to lack its thumping bassline and appeared a bit slower than the original, though it still carried a lot of energy.
I was most impressed with "Like a Prayer", which really got the sold out audience fired up. And a surprise "You Must Love Me" was a stunner.
Richard Kennedy is reviewing the concert for next Friday's print issue, so I don't want to step on his toes because I know he's got lots to say about it. But, I just HAVE to mention I found it silly that Madonna played guitar for four songs. It was like she was trying to be a rock star, and I've never known Madonna to try and be anything else but herself. And furthermore, when exactly did Madonna start playing the guitar - or any instrument for that matter?
Overall, I really enjoyed the thrill of seeing Madonna in person and the production was spectacular - no one puts on a show quite like this lady, who at 50 can kick and stretch just beautifully. This was a night to remember, and I'll do everything possible to see her again in concert.
Those of you from Seattle staying in Vancouver through the weekend, I recommend doing some much-needed recovery at Skoah spa (http://www.skoah.com/), which does indeed ship their fine products to the US (a correction from a print article a week ago) - their signature facial called "facealicious" is second to none. Or, the Absolut Spa at the Century Hotel (http://www.absolutspa.com/) offers incredible pedicures with a complimentary light meal in their own cafe after your treatment. Massage treatments are a great way to recover, relax, and revigorate for your next adventure. Check these two spas out here in Vancouver.
For Halloween, Opus Hotel (http://www.opushotel.com/) is throwing a no cover bash tonight beginning at 9pm that hops until 3am. It's a fabulous hotel in Yaletown, where the sexy people - gay and straight - stay at when in town, and the place will be filled tonight with cool tunes, cool cocktails, and hot flesh. Also, T-Bodies is hosting a Trans Haunt for trans community members and their friends at Lick (455 Abbott Street) starting at 9pm. A $5 cover charge is in effect.
Well, I gotta run to catch my train. It's been real fun covering Madonna here in Vancouver, her first time ever playing in this city that'll host the 2010 Winter Olympics in a couple of years.
The Loden Hotel (http://www.lodenvancouver.com/) has been an amazing place to report from, a new property in the heart of downtown Vancouver and a hip, gorgeous boutique hotel with many great bells and whistles. I had a wonderful lunch at Voya, the hotel's on-premise restaurant, and the halibut atop fingerling potatoes and fresh asparagus was quite memorable. Add a cheesecake with coconut sorbet, and I was in la-la land.
Loden Hotel will be a prime hotspot for the upcoming Juno Awards (Canada's Grammys) in March, and its penthouse is the bomb. Consider it for your upcoming Vancouver getaway.