Madonna: The Girlie Show – Live Down Under (1994)

Madonna’s follow-up tour to her groundbreaking “Blond Ambition Tour” in 1990 is perhaps one of her most peculiar, pretentious projects ever, and that alone makes it rather remarkable. It takes a lot of courage to follow a thunderous crowd-pleaser like “Blond Ambition” with something as insular and distinct as “The Girlie Show” but if anyone can do it, it’s Madonna: Gone are the floor-shaking pop numbers that define her tours, replaced with experimental numbers like a relatively stripped-down version of “Vogue” and bold, audacious numbers like “Why’s It So Hard,” which begins with a sexually fluid on-stage orgy and ends with a call to arms about social equality. Along the way there are also daring numbers like “The Beast Within” (wherein dancers conflate the religious with the sacrilegious) and a vaudeville-inspired “Like a Virgin” that features Madonna as Marlene Dietrich, even singing a few bars of Dietrich’s “Falling in Love Again” from “The Blue Angel,” and while the number is corny and overlong, it’s hard not to respect Madonna’s chutzpah for even attempting it in the first place. It’s not one of her best tours because there are several numbers that drag on while others are inexplicable in the first place (like “I’m Going Bananas” and an interminable “Justify My Love”), but it’s a memorable one.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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