Tag Archive: NIA

Lady Gaga @ NIA, Birmingham – 15 October 2014

So, a late opportunity to review a lesser known pop star in Birmingham. It’ll be a bit of a quiet night then. Or maybe not. This particular pop star has 67 MILLION likes on Facebook. And over 40 MILLION followers on Twitter. She’s sold over 27 MILLION albums and 125 MILLION singles. And this particular tour has already nearly sold 4 MILLION tickets. That’s a lot of MILLIONS. Popular girl then, Ms Germanotta – or as most of us know her – Lady Gaga.

Lady Gaga Image
Tonight we’re at the first night of her #artRAVE: ARTPOP Ball Tour – and as we make our way in to the National Indoor (soon to be Barclaycard) Arena, known locally as the NIA, we can look forward to queuing. It’s a tad chaotic – and punters are getting a tad wet – those who have made the effort to dress up are looking a tad soggy. Hopefully this will all be sorted for the official opening of the ‘new’ arena courtesy of Mr. Bublé.

As we take out seat the lights are down, the stage not only at the end of the arena, snakes into the centre of the crowd, is lit bright pink – and full on dance, trace, bass beats are pumping out of the speakers, getting the adoring fans in the mood.

Slightly later than anticipated the huge curtain is pulled back, the crowd scream, dancers, semi-clade in African inspired rainbow, rasta-mix bring balloons and glowsticks and throw them in the audience. And Gaga rises from the floor, dress in gold, blonde wig and furry angel wings. The scream from the crowd is huge. ARTPOP starts the show – “Birmingham” she shouts – scream go the crowd. And as she walks across the ramps to the centre of the arena – a thousand phones capture the moment.

Gaga’s set is full on energy, she’s dancing, she’s jumping, she’s singing with her crew of dancers. Yes there’s a lot of choreography,and she continually shouts at the audience to c’mon and jump… “turn the f****** music up – I want to see you on your feet!” The language is expletive ridden. ‘Donatella’ we’re in fashionesta baby – the dancers prowl – she wants us to dance, put our hands in the air, the higher the better so she can see everyone of the 13,500 fans that have turned out tonight.

Disappearing under the stage, she re-appears in full Beyoncé big hair wig and tiny spangly bikini. “Celebrate your talent and creativity… and crazy dreams can come true….” she encourages. ‘Venus’ gives us dancers and sining and lasers and inflatable plants. Yes plants – that’s what I think they are? She loves her fans so much she has another tattoo – of fans hands on her back – she shows us. As a mark of loyalty to her fans to allow her to achieve what she has done as a woman, in this age. She declares that over the past six years that we have given birth to the greatest fan base on the planet.  She preaches equality – that is her mantra – and the artistic freedoms of pop – “I will not be told how to dress, what songs to record…..if you make art tonight your are an artist.”

And this is between the full on dance and singing routines – the music at times is more than pop, it’s rock, it’s trance – whatever – the fans are partying. And a segment of dancing that includes hit ‘Poker Face’.

For ‘Paparazzi’ she reappears on stage in a Dalmatian spotted, curvy Tim Burton-esque swirl creation – and as she does on every costume change – the additions are taken away within a song to a bikini, leotard, minimal dress. There a Union Jack on stage and she picks it up and dances her way to the ice piano in the middle of the auditorium. This is just GaGa and piano. And this stripped back GaGa demonstrates what a talented Lady she indeed is – powerful vocals (which on single releases you don’t necessarily hear) on ‘Dope’ – a ballad about alcohol and drugs – she stops and talks. When she’s not drunk or a mess she’s soberish she quips. ‘Dope’ is an apology to everyone, but after she wrote it she found it was an apology to herself.

“You and I’ is about what we’ve given her over the last six years; the band is back out and in the middle of the hall. The track rocks out – it’s pretty heavy. She dancing and ends up collapsing on the stage – covered by the Union Jack.  After a couple of minutes, fans screaming with delight, she rises and walks to a piano picking up a letter. Reading the letter out aloud, it’s quite long, relates the life of a boy, isolated whilst young, brave enough to come out as gay and he’s here tonight, with his boyfriend. Gaga chokes as she reads it. He’d expected the letter to be read after the show, he’s a massive fan, she’s an inspiration. “Ha!Ha!” she laughs and invites Jason to come on stage with his boyfriend. “This kid has balls of steel.” As they sit beside her, she dedicates this song to him and his parents (who are also here tonight). A piano rendition and vocals alone of ‘Born This Way’ – impressive. Gaga is a well know gay activist – “If you are gay – hold your head up proud.”

And we’re back to the dance and the craziness.

Lady Gaga, yes put’s on a hell of a show. There’s dancing and partying and crazy clothes and just craziness – everything that you would anticipate from a Gaga gig. But may what sets her apart is the engagement with her fans. They are first, they are her priority. The set is designed so she’s in the middle of them, she’s continually crouching down to shake hands – she’s chatty and engaging, yeah kooky, but she has the ability to relate. And the audience tonight – a wide range of people, old and young, gay and straight, such a diversity. And the standard-out is Gaga stripped back – just her, singing and her piano. The OTT of everything else is just a front for her wacky creative mind.

ARTPOP is Music Fashion Dance Party. Indeed.  This Birmingham show was the first in her tour of the UK – if your missed the party, check it out on the next few dates – and she’ll be back at the NIA on 13 Nov 14…

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Setlist:
ARTPOP
G.U.Y.
Donatella
Venus
MANiCURE
Just Dance / Poker Face / Telephone
Paparazzi
Do What U want
Dope
You and I
Born This Way
The Edge of Glory
Judas / Aura
Sexxx Dreams
Mary Jane Holland
Alejando
Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)
Bad Romance
Applause
Swine

Encore:
Gypsy
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Review for Altsounds, Gig Junkies and 102.5 The Bridge.

NEWS: Michael Bublé set to open the new Barclay Card Arena, Birmingham in December 2014

After 18 months of refurbishment the National Indoor Arena (NIA) in Birmingham will be relaunched as the Barclaycard Arena after a £26 million pound refurbishment.

NIA
The redevelopment at the arena will see an increase in capacity, comfier seats, a substantially improved concourse for food, drink and entertainment, improved food outlet providing a greater choice and far greater toilet facilities! The Barclaycard Arena will have spectacular glass frontage, with Sky Needles, the tallest standing 46m high, standing out in the skyline of the city centre.

Buble
Michael Bublé is set to open the new venue on the 2nd and 3rd of December, as the opening dates to his UK December tour. Tickets are on sale now – but are likely to sell out very quickly! Last year Bublé sold out his 10 day residency at 02 Arena in London, as well as concerts in Manchester Birmingham and Glasgow.
‘To Be Loved’ is Michael Bublé’s sixth studio album following his ‘Christmas’ album which sold seven million copies internationally and was the second biggest selling album of  2011. Now closing in on 700,000 sales in the UK alone where the album was his first to go straight to #1. The album also earned Michael his fourth Grammy Award when it won Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.
For more information visit the NIA Barclaycard Arena website.  

Simple Minds + Ultravox @ NIA Birmingham, 29 November 2013

Tonight is an opportunity to put on those rose tinted glasses and remember those ‘fab’ good 80s old days with much nostalgia. A time when ‘mobile’ phones were strange red (rather smelly) kiosks on street corners. ‘Social media’ entailed a pen, paper, a stamp, a postman and a few days to get a response.  Steve Jobs was busy launching the Apple Mac computer, way, way, way before he dreamt of iPods and iTunes, the nearest thing to copying a song was on a C90 cassette tape, CDs were yet to make their mark and digital downloads? They were a pipe dream….

Ultravox disappeared from view returning in 2009/10 with their ‘classic line-up’ featuring Warren Cann, Chris Cross, Billie Currie with frontman Midge Ure. They did two cracking and hugely successful ‘Return to Eden’ tours followed up by their first album in 28 years (with this line-up) in the critically acclaimed ‘Brilliant.’ And toured with it. Meanwhile headliners Simple Minds flatly refuse to give up and go away. Na no. The hits may no longer be there, but they’ve continued to play live and surprisingly, given they’ve played both the Academy and Wolves Civic over the past 12 months, they‘ve now opted for big arenas, part of a four-date UK tour with Ultravox. An arena was always a question mark – would both bands together fill it?  Answer in Brum is no. The arena is cut to less than half it’s full capacity, the stage radically moved forward. You’re probably looking between 5-6,000 people standing on the floor and cascading high in the tiered seats into the rafters.

However, to get this middle aged audience (sorry – we all feel young) in the mood, over the speakers we have Numan and his friends electric, a smattering of Bunnymen and Adam rapping his ants. With the addition of Bowie in ‘Fame’ mode and then sound cranked up – ‘Life on Mars.’

First up, a truly early 7.30pm, onto a blackened set, the band in black be Ultravox. All noticeably older (even young Midge has just turned 60) but still hugely slick and professional, Ure greets us with “How you going?” First up ‘New Europeans’ – they take a little time to warm up and for the technicians to balance the sound. With mono-lighting and moody atmosphere, like a black and white movie, ‘Sleepwalk’ goes down well. ‘Reap the Wild Wind’ gets hands in the air, next up ‘The Thin Wall’ is extended in an electronic mix jamming sesh. Middle of their set – and as the haunting double drum echoes through the venue – the crowd recognise ‘Vienna’ and big cheers go round the arena. Ure can just about still manage the high vocals; fair play the crowd cheer. Currie once again on his electronic violin. Then ‘One Small Day’ followed by ‘Hymn.’ The crowd sing along… “Give us…this day…all that you showed me….” ‘Dancing with Tears in My Eyes’ their song about the last few minutes before nuclear obliteration, and a commercial success in the day, leads Ure into band introductions, before the final song of the night ‘The Voice’ completed with band members at the front of the stage in their classic drumming line-up moment.

This wasn’t one of Ultravox’s better sets – sadly dumbed down to support slot and time limitation but by the audience response, I think they surprised a few who hadn’t seen them before or since their ‘comeback’. You enjoyed this snippet, go and see them when they are out headlining their own tour. Ultravox are more than well worth it.

To a potted bit of Simple Minds history – formed way back in ’78, they took an eclectic journey up to ‘82, from the dance classic cult  ‘I Travel’ right through the big sound of the ‘New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)’ album, with splashing of arena-filling 80’s hits. Success became stratospheric – by the mid/late eighties Simple Minds were huge, playing not just arenas, but stadia, comparable to U2 in success. According to their Twitter profile: “Simple Minds are Scotland’s most successful rock group to date. Having topped America’s Billboard chart, the Glasgow band have achieved six UK No.1 albums.” Simple Minds were indeed mega-huge, but unlike U2 who conquered the world and then some, it didn’t quite play out in the same way for Simple Minds, as they slipped from the stratosphere taking their loyal fans with them.

The Simple Minds of today are made up of original members Jim Kerr (vocals) and Charlie Burchill (guitar/keyboards), Mel Gaynor (drummer – who’s been in the line up pretty much since ’82), Andy Gillespie (keyboards – ditto since 2002) and Ged Grimes (bass – newbie and formerly a founding member of Danny Wilson).

And so – around ten to nine, the lights go down, and a rambling electronic rhythm fills the auditorium, big cheers as the band appear, as we’re into the dede-dede-dede-dede bass beat that is ‘Waterfront’ – in front of me a bloke stands and starts dancing like a madman as the band go into the track.

Kerr, in black suit and silver scarf, is in his element. “How are you?” he asks the crowd to a big cheer, as we get ‘Broken Glass Park’ followed by that dance classic ‘I Travel’. It rolls on and on.  “Shall we do ‘Once Upon A time’?” Kerr is down on his knees, posing in front of the audience, then rolling round the stage and sitting and singing at the front of the stage. He’s charismatic and still pretty energetic. The stage is continually drenched with dry ice from the back and front of the set – it’s beginning to get quite overwhelming and somewhat foggy in this reduced size NIA.

‘Promised You A Miracle’ gets the crowd singing back and they roll through their back catalogue. Kerr takes a break “…for a whiskey…” as we get instrumental ‘Theme From Great Cities’ before retuning to play a song for Nelson Mandela. That’ll be ‘Mandela Day’ the lighting all transferred to South African flag colours. ‘Somewhere Somehow in Summertime’ gets everyone dancing, fans are having a good time (even if on the side stands the security prevents some from dancing on the steep isles. The set rolls on  as they continue with the hits; ‘The American’,  ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ – from film The Breakfast Club and ‘New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84).’

Their encore gives us the big-arena hits ‘Sanctify Yourself’ and ‘Alive and Kicking.’

So – tonight was true 80s retro. With just 50 minutes to show off their class, Ultravox are far more than just another retro act out on a cash-in. When they re-appeared there was no fanfare, they just did. And the fans flocked. And if you want to see past and present classics, from the world of electronica, tonight was just a snapshot. See them headlining their own tour, doing a full set, as they are a must see.

Clearly Simple Minds truly love arena tours; which maybe in this part of the world, probably beyond them, although the reduced venue size could well be they played locally too much. They did well to keep their fans in tow given tickets are not the cheapest (once again – circa £55). The major hits were certainly mostly during the 80’s and so tonight was a celebration of true nostalgia and most were here to hear tracks from a couple of decades past. And very probably for most here tonight; the older the track, the better. Simple Minds still have a very loyal following – and clearly, the band and fans are very much ‘alive and kicking’ and having one hell of a blast.

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Ultravox Setlist

New Europeans
Sleepwalk
Reap the Wild Wind
The Thin Wall
Vienna
One Small Day
Hymn
Dancing with Years in My Eyes
The Voice

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Simple Minds Setlist

Waterfront
Broken Glass Park
I Travel
Once Upon A Time
All the Things She Said
Hunter and the Hunted
Promised You a Miracle
Glittering Prize
Theme from Great Cities
Mandela Day
Somewhere Somehow in Summertime
This Fear of Gods
The American
Love Song
See the Lights
Don’t You (Forget About Me)
Let It All Come Down
New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)

Encore:
Sanctify Yourself
Alive and Kicking

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Review for Gig Junkies – pictures: Ken Harrison

Evanescence + The Used + Lost Alone @ NIA Birmingham, Thursday 8th November 2012

Review for Birmingham Live! Pictures: Katja Orgin.

Beginning of November and out in a mild evening, we’re at the NIA for a bit of rock gothic melodrama – Amy Lee and her support crew are here to bring Birmingham to life – it’s time for Evanescence.  

I didn’t get there in time to see the support act – but a bit of a plug here. Lost Alone are a trio featuring Mark Gibson on drums, Steve Battelle on guitar and Alan Williamson on bass.  Current album ‘I’m A UFO in the City’ is available to purchase through the usual channels with new single ‘Creatures’ released a couple of days ago. Pundits have given them Queenesque / Muse comparisons – listening they have a raw American punk sound with harmonized vocals – a number of reviewers saying these guys are rising stars. On the UK tour with Evanescence, you can catch them on their hometown Christmas gig at Derby Assembly Rooms on 21st December 2012.

Second support, The Used are giving it some screamy rock as I take my seat in the gods. I think I can touch the roof from here, but it’s a great vantage point. When Evanescence announced this gig at the NIA I wondered whether they would take the leap near sold out 02 Academy Birmingham show they played pretty much 12 months to this day. That venue holds about 3,000. Well they gave it a good effort – stage moved forward – third of arena fenced off – standing on the floor – I guess max of 5-6,000 here. Maybe a thought that Brum could do with a venue larger than the likes of the Academy, Ballroom and Institute but not as big as the NIA or LG. Anyway – back to the gig….

The Used are an LA based outfit: Bert McCraken singer, Quinn Allman on guitar, Jepha on bass and Dan Whiteside on drumming duties. New album ‘Vulnerable’ apparently, reflects The Used trademark ability to ‘ turn personal adversity in to art.’  Formed in Orem, Utah in 2001 they’ve had quite a journey – not only in music but in their own lives too. “Without music and you guys I probably wouldn’t be here today – don’t take yourself too seriously don’t be afraid to smile.…”  – you can hear the inspiration behind ‘Vulnerable. These dates with Evanescence are part of a European tour.

The Used think that “Birmingham fuckin’ rocks…. best show so far of the tour.” Band are clearly enjoying themselves McCraken is energetic and chatty and pretty good fun: “ … a lot of hardcore fans here in the UK!” as the singer invites these selected fans to come and have “hardcore fuckin’ sexual intercourse…” And then offers the same to the hardcore Evanescence fans. The Used are American pop punk rock with thrown in screamy bits – a kinda cross between Blink and Deftones. They’re pretty good and go down well with the crowd – although the sound in this venue echoes around and it ain’t the best for rock gigs. Maybe when the NIA gets it’s multi-million pound refit it’ll improve. Fingers crossed.

So between bands – a half an hour break – we have a snooze and listen to the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Alice In Chains and a smattering of Faith No More….

Formed just seven years ago by Amy Lee and Ben Moody, Evanescence’s first album ‘Fallen’ had stratospheric sales: over 17m albums worldwide (winning a vast series of awards including two Grammys) driven by huge hit ‘Bring Me To Life’ (with vocal support from Paul McCoy of 12 Stones). Their follow up album, ‘The Open Door’ continued that success with sales over 6 million and their latest self titled 2011 ‘Evanescence’ looks to be following the trend. The singles are certainly getting airplay…

The band appears on stage, Lee in her usual mystical goth-inspired clothing, to a rather loud scream from the crowd. With far more space then the Academy she prowls the stage, pumping the air with her arm as she sings, engaging the crowd. First track ‘What You Want’ clearly shows the sound is far more balanced than it was for the support acts.

The stage is pretty simple, however they clearly employed a lighting guy who loves to have fun – and it’s pretty impressive, giving full reflective mood to Evanescence’s tracks – ‘Weight of The World’ blasts powerful white light across the stage. ‘Going Under’ Lee and the band go for it – the guys in the band are pretty hardcore, tight and loud. “Hello Birmingham – it’s wonderful to see you – it’s wonderful to see you after all these years…”

Then a piano segment for a few tracks – a real piano is brought to the front of the stage, Lee takes her place, a green spotlight focused just on her. As she gives us ‘Lithium’ from where I am you can see thousands of mobile phones recording. Once it would have been lighters waving, with a few burnt fingers. ‘Lost in Paradise’ is probably one of the standout tracks of the night; Lee’s vocals are pretty impressive on this big epic ballad.

The songs swirl, powerful and strong, and then we get the big hit. Opened up by that piano melody, the crowd sings the words and Evanescence blow us away.

Evanescence had massive success on their first album. 17 million + sales worldwide and 43 weeks in the Billboard Top 10 is pretty incredible. They have brought gothic rock to the masses, there’s a real eclectic mix here, from rockers to little people and everyone in between. Evanescence have brought rock to a young, female crowd, who will hopefully seek to experience more that rock and metal has to offer. If you like Evanescence they give you exactly what you would expect, they have followed ‘Bring Me To Life’ template to the letter – there is no deviation from their gothic metal, ethereal sound, they are far louder and harder rock than on record. It’s clearly a formula that works for Lee and her gang.

Pretty impressive and, at £28.50, not bad for an arena gig. If you like their music – they will impress you. Go and enjoy.

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Setlist:

  1. What You Want
  2. Going Under
  3. The Other Side
  4. Weight of the World
  5. Made of Stone
  6. Lithium
  7. Lost in Paradise
  8. My Heart is Broken
  9. Whisper
  10. The Change
  11. Oceans
  12. Swimming Home
  13. Call Me When You’re Sober
  14. Imaginary
  15. Bring Me To Life

 

Encore:

15. Disappear

17. My Immortal

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Evanescence Listening:

The Fallen (2003)

The Open Door (2006)

Evanescence (2011)

 

Madonna + Alesso @ NIA Birmingham, 19 July 2012

Review for Birmingham Live! Pictures: Steve Gerrard

So into the city and a torrential downpour as the British summer flatly refuses to appear. And as I arrive at the NIA throngs of excited fans take photos by posters and fan club signs – we’re here to see the self-styled controversial Queen of Pop – Madonna is in town as part of her MDNA tour.

Expectations are high, as a slightly chaotic NIA, listen in to support DJ Alesso, pumping out the rave tunes. The women in the crowd are inundated with samples of Madonna’s Truth or Dare perfume samples as we all walk round to take our seats – Madge is due on at 9.00pm.

The crowd are eager and excited to see their icon. 9.15pm – we’re still waiting. A Mexican wave rolls successfully round the auditorium. Michael Jackson plays through the PA – the crowd are a happy bunch. 9.25pm – we’re still waiting. 9.35pm the huge curtain which has  massive picture of her on it, is pulled unceremoniously down and heaved off stage by several roadies. 9.40pm – we’re STILL waiting. Finally, at 9.45pm, a full three quarters of an hour late, the lights go down, and we’re greeted by 2 monks ringing a bell. An urn is lowered from the rafters, lit up and smoking, it sways across the stage. As acrobatic contemporary dancers contort on pillars, three huge HD plasma screens fill the back of the stage – they divide and in an arched ‘tower’, silhouetted, her Madgeness appears – to huge screams from the crowd and we into ‘Girl Gone Wild.’

The song completes, with Madonna, gun in hand shoots a dancer – and next track – ‘Revolver’ “What’s up Birmingham?” which moves into ‘Gang Bang’ where she progressively shoots a series of dancers –  a streak of blood splatter smacks in HD across the screens. “… Bang bang, shot you dead, shot my lover in the head…”

Now on stage a violinist, we’re into ‘Papa Don’t Preach’ a huge cross backdrop on the plasmas. The track morphs into a gothic drama and into ‘Hung Up’ to which from the depths of the stage appear columns and dancers tightrope walking. Madge joins them, balancing precariously. Now she has guitar in hand, rock chick look, she’s rapping away at the front of the stage to ‘I Don’t Give A *’; an extended V shape, the centre filled with fans, the point in the centre of the auditorium. On screen, duet partner Nicki Minaj joins her….

This was stage 1 of tonight’s proceedings, stage 2 ( breaks to give her time to change), features black and white gravestones on screen, and the contortionist dancers strut their stuff. Intriguing and somewhat painful to watch, the dancers are able to effectively dislocate their shoulders as they warp their arms. Suddenly there’s light – cheerleaders on stage – Madonna in full garb – and we’re into ‘Express Yourself’ pop illustration influenced cartoons grace the screens.  And, even better, as it’s well stuffy and warm in the NIA, someone has remembered to switch on the air conditioning. The song morphs into a drumming rhythm and from between the screens, on foot and from the rafters, a series of toy drummers are rolled out and drum their way through the song. Impressive. “C’mon raise your hands”, as we roll into a drumbeat and ‘Give Me All Your Luvin’.’

Set stops briefly and we get snippets of the hits and classic Madonna imagery on the screens – all to brief – it morphs into ‘Turn Up the Radio.’ “Are you gonna sing along with me?”, she’s back with guitar, “I can’t hear you… louder….” (Well we would, if we knew the words…).

Next section, she’s off, change of clothes again, and back on with her chums Kalakan trio – and sings ‘Open Your Heart’ (with excepts from ‘Sagarra Jo!’) and gets her adoring fans to sing and clap along. “Woohoo” she screams, “Are you havin’ a good time? F*** yeah!” Then a reference to technical difficulties and “What happen to my hotel?” (I’m confused – what hotel, was this an technical onstage glitch that failed to appear – or is this the reason she was 45 minutes late on stage?) “When I make a mistake does that bother you? I’d like to thank my loyal and devoted fans in Birmingham, I see you are not sitting in the little red chairs… write to your congressman (huh?), or whatever it is in this country, to get rid of the f****** red chairs…”  Then a series of questions to which she encourages the audience to respond with “F*** no!” and “A love song to all my fans who have supported me – without you I am nothing…” and she sings ‘Masterpiece’ with Kalakan, while the screens show footage of her recent delve into the world of film direction and Edward and Mrs Simpson.

Next section: Masculine and Feminine – mono footage from ‘Justify My Love’ appears large and in HD on the screens, as they split apart – dancers strut in full cross dressing mono designer ‘clothing’ and in a different ‘tower’ she emerges to ‘Vogue.’ For all you know about Madonna and this time in her career – that’s exactly what you get, sexual and slightly erotic dancing as clothes start to come off… through “Candy Shop’, a smidge of ‘Erotica’ and into ‘Human Nature’. During which she strips down from the male clothing to a skimpy bra, and threatens to strip her trousers – a sneaky peak of the top of a G-string, she moons – “Don’t think Birmingham is ready for that?”, the crowd re-act and the trousers are put back in place. On her back is written NO FEAR and at the front of the V stage, just her and a man on a piano, she sings a slow version of ‘Like A Virgin’ rolling around on the floor, clothing just about keeping body parts covered. At the end of the song, she’s roughly tied into a corset by a dancer, the bloke behind me shouts “Don’t hurt her!”

As she disappearing into the floor (the set is full of gizmos and trapdoors), we’re in the final section – the tightrope (plus dancers) re-appears and on the screen is the video for ‘Nobody Knows Me’ – the one that the Far Right has got upset about in France. She’s back on with guitar, bit of trance nation for ‘I’m Addicted’ with a power beat, ‘I’m A Sinner’ gets all George Harrison and Hare Krishna. Then, probably the standout track of the night – with full gospel choir in tow – it’s ‘Like A Prayer’ – the crowd get on down. She asks a fan to sing, who manages it after screaming at their idol.  And finally the bells ring out again, and they finish on ‘Celebration’ the columns on the stage lift them up high above the crowd, and the ‘cast’ wave as the show closes. “Thank you Birmingham.”

Wow. So That was her Madgeness at Birmingham NIA. It’s great that Birmingham have got such a big gig. The positives it was certainly a spectacular show, the screens, graphics, lighting, and stage gizmos were indeed stunning. The dancers were indeed awesome. And Madge is indeed full of energy, matching her dancers step for step. The not so positives, 45 minutes late, 1 hour 40+ set, mostly newer stuff rather than classic Madonna, meant that even some die-hard fans were left saying this wasn’t the best they had seen her. And then we have the ticket prices. Cheap seats at £55 to top whack, jaw droppingly priced £175 (lets not forget the BF etc) and the not so cheap merchandising. I personally have a real issue with such stupendously priced tickets and, as such, I expected far, far more than what we got for tonight’s performance. The gig was very nearly sold out, clearly people were happy to pay that sort of money to see their icon and many, many clearly had a fantastic time.

 

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The Prayer Overture: Act of Contrition

  1. Girl Gone Wild
  2. Revolver
  3. Gang Bang
  4. Papa Don’t Preach
  5. Hung Up
  6. I Don’t Give A *

 

Prophecy (Best friend)

  1. Express Yourself
  2. Give Me All Your Luvin’

 

Turning Up the Hits

  1. Turn Up The Radio
  2. Open Your Heart (with Kalakan excepts from ‘Sagarra jo!’)
  3. Masterpiece (with Kalakan)

 

Masculine / Feminine (Justify My Love)

  1. Vogue
  2. Candy Shop
  3. Human Nature
  4. Like A Virgin

 

Celebration ( Nobody Knows Me)

  1. I’m Addicted
  2. I’m a Sinner
  3. Like  Prayer
  4. Celebration