Italian Confessions (Godfather GR 158/159)
Stadio Olympico, Rome, Italy – August 6th, 2006
Disc 1: Future Lovers, I Feel Love, Get Together, Like A Virgin, Jump, Live To Tell, Forbidden Love, Issac, Sorry, Like It Or Not, I Love New York
Disc 2: Ray Of Light, Let It Will Be, Drowned World, Paradise (Not For Me), Music Inferno, La Isla Bonita, Erotica, Lucky Star, Hung Up
Madonna’s 2006 Confessions Tour began on May 21st in Los Angeles and was seen by 1.2 million people over sixty dates around the world and earned her the highest gross for a female artist ever. The only stop in Italy was scheduled for August 6th at the massive Stadio Olympico in Rome. “I have been waiting to play in Rome my entire career. So, dreams do come true” she says before “Drowned World.” With the recurring themes of sexuality and Christianity, her stage show drew a fair amount of criticism from Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders. Madonna invited Pope Benedict XVI to see the show. Her publicist as quoted in Corriere della Sera saying, “I believe that the Pope would appreciate the show and applaud the performance. Madonna does not think at all that Jesus would be angry with her. Why the message of love for one’s neighbour and tolerance announced by Christ is identical to the message of my client. The context of the show Madonna on the crucifix is not negative nor disrespectful towards the Church.”
Meanwhile both Mario Scialoja, head of the League of Italian Muslims, and Riccardo Pacifici, spokesman for the Roman Jewish community, were in agreement with the Vatican in their denunciation of the show.
Regardless of the pre-concert publicity, Madonna drew 70,000 to the Olympic Stadium in Rome and despite logistical problems with tickets, delivered a powerful show to wild audience. In addition to the expected mix of religious, political and sexual icons, dance music and electronica were emphasized with the older hits largely ignored. Godfather Records on Italian Confessions presents an excellent stereo audience recording that picks up the music and atmosphere of the event perfectly. It is an extraordinarily vivid recording with all of the excitement of the show. The set list was divided into several sections beginning with the “equestrian” where Madonna is dressed in black brandishing a bullwhip. The stage setup is, according to a review the following day in Corriere della Sera, “is a great disco: a walkway, illuminated as the landing runway of an airport, two cuts through the audience, and the silhouettes of a pair of horses stand out to the sides of the stage.”
She exits from a giant disco ball at the beginning of “Future Lovers.” The new song is segued perfectly with the seminal Donna Summer hit “I Feel Love.” The Summer tune is one of the most important and influential pieces of music to come out of the seventies, paving the way for electronic techno music which flourished in the late eighties and nineties and on which Madonna’s entire career is predicated. Before “Like A Virgin,” one of the very few older hits to be included, she greets the audience and sings the song from a mechanical horse. “Live To Tell” from True Blue is meant to document the AIDS epidemic in countries in Africa. She sings the song from a mirrored cross wearing a crown of thorns which was specifically pointed out by critics to be sacrilege. Since themes of the cross and crucifixion have served as commentary in art for thousands of years one isn’t justified in making that argument against Madonna. What exactly the point she is trying to make isn’t very clear. Is she saying that Christianity is in someway responsible for the AIDS epidemic in Africa? Or is she saying that Christ died so they may live eternal life? Or is she saying that the victims of the epidemic die an innocent death as Christ did?
During the following song “Forbidden Love” three dancers join Madonna on stage. Each has a chest tattoo of the three monotheistic religions: a cross for Christianity, the moon and crescent for Islam, and the Star Of David for Judaism. “Isaac” from the new album follows, beginning with a blast from an electronic shofar indicating the beginning of the Passover seder. The song’s namesake Yitzhak Sinwani comes onstage to recite words from the Kabbalah including “El-Chai (God is alive), El-Chai marumam Al keruvim (God is alive, elevated upon cherubim), Kulam be-ruho ya’alu (everybody in his spirits will rise).” Near Sinwani a dancer is performing in a burka and who rips it off and continents dancing in skirt and bra (no wonder Muslims are upset at this!)
The second part of the show is the “Never Mind The Bollocks Act” where Madonna stresses rock based numbers beginning with the nine minute “I Love New York.” Although the lyrics are bit silly (“I don’t like cities But I like new york / Other places make me feel like a dork”) it is an interesting song and in the middle Madonna interjects “you can go to Texas and suck George Bush’s dick!!” She encourages the audience to jump throughout the scorching “Ray Of Light.” Yitzhak Sinwani joins her on renditions of “Paradise (Not For Me)”, “Drowned World/Substitute For Love”, and “La Isla Bonita.” Before “Drowned World” she points out “two miracles that have occurred here. One. Italy has won the World Cup. Two, the rain stopped before my show.”
The last section of the show is the Saturday Night Fever 70’s retrospective where she and the dancers wear John Travolta like white leisure suite. “Music Inferno” is a dance song consisting of bits of her own songs along with a cover of The Trammps “Disco Inferno.” “Erotica” contains some lyrics from the old demo of the song called “You Thrill Me.” The finally song of the set is “Lucky Star” with “Hung Up” serving as the encore. Italian Confessions is packaged in a tri-fold gatefold sleeve with the tour poster on the front and several photographs from the show in the inside including Madonna on the mirror cross and the monotheism dancers. The insert contains a mini poster with a photograph of the various Corriere della Sera newspaper articles. Overall the sound quality and the packaging make this the best document from this recordbreaking Madonna tour.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)