Madonna: Drowned World Tour 2001 (2001)

When this live broadcast first aired on HBO in 2001, mainstream audiences unfamiliar with a newly energized Madonna saw a drastically different version of the Material Girl here. Eschewing pop hooks and intricate productions in favor of hard guitars and free-flowing punk energy, this show is very un-Madonna in its aesthetics, and its that audaciousness that makes the show so compelling. It’s fascinating to watch Madonna wear a new sonic identity as she does here, focusing mostly on songs from “Ray of Light” and “Music,” and taking to the stage with all the ambition of a newcomer. By the time the thunderous climax rolls around, set to her then-latest hit single “Music,” it’s a release of a lot of pent-up musical restraint that results in one of the most entertaining, joyful finales of her career.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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