Sticky & Sweet Rome (Godfather Records GR 318/319)
Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy – September 6th, 2008
Disc 1 (54:57): Intro/ Candy Shop, Beat Goes On, Human Nature, Vogue, video interlude – Die Another Day, Into The Groove, Heartbeat, Borderline, She’s Not Me, Music, video interlude – Rain/ Here Comes The Rain Again, Devil Wouldn’t Recognize You
Disc 2 (57:20): Spanish Lesson, Miles Away, La Isla Bonita/Lela Pala Tute, Doli Doli (live interlude – Romanian folk song), You Must Love Me, video interlude – Get Stupid (about saving the planet), 4 Minutes, Like A Prayer, Ray Of Light, Like A Virgin, Hung Up, Give It To Me (finale)
Sticky & Sweet Rome contains a very good to excellent audience recording of Madonna’s show in Rome on September 6th. It captures the massiveness of the event with a great live sound. Since this is the only Italian date on the Hard Candy tour and with the album hitting number one in Italy, the show was a fast sell out and the Roman audience came to dance and sing to the music. There is some impatience in the crowd during the slower parts, like when she sings the Romania folk song, and muffled audience conversations are audible. Nevertheless the tape captures all of the excitement of the show.
The set is divided into four parts. The first is “Pimp,” which is a fusion of modern urban life and 1920’s art deco. “Old School” is where Madonna give a reprise of her early days in New York and honors her friend, the late artist and social activist Keith Haring. “Gypsy” is a blend of nomad gypsy culture and folk music, and “Rave” features a futuristic dance floor with an eastern influence.
The show begins with two songs from the new album, “Candy Shop” and “Beat Goes On.” “Human Nature” contains the chorus from “Express Yourself” (“express yourself, don’t repress yourself”) and indicates a trend for many of the arrangements in the show. Many of the songs played represent a synthesis of one kind or another with liberal quotes from Madonna’s new material, old songs, and clips from other sources. “Die Another Day” from the movie soundtrack is given a remix with soundbites from the video game Mortal Kombat (particularly the ninja Scorpion). “Into The Groove” has quotes from “Toop Toop,” “Jump” (and makes me wish they played the entire song), and “Double Dutch Bus” as Madonna jump-ropes onstage. “Borderline” is given an heavy metal arrangement, emphasized by power chords being played on a Gibson Les Paul.
“Music” contains elements of “Put Your Hands Up 4 Detroit” and excerpts from “Last Night a DJ Saved My Life.” The ending of the show begins with a fast-paced techno arrangement of “Like A Prayer” with references to “Don’t You Want Me” and “Feels Like Home.” After “Ray Of Light” Madonna says, “I’m so happy to be here in Rome. I feel your energy. I feel your love. And I give it back to you. This is where I usually do one of my old songs…. I want to dedicate this song to the Pope, because, I know he loves me. Because, I…am a child…of God! And you know why else? ‘I made it through the wilderness, somehow I made it through….” The audience then picks up and sings most of “Like A Virgin.”
Sticky & Sweet Rome is packaged in a tri-fold cardboard gatefold sleeve with many photos from the show and two inserts. One is a small poster and the other contains interesting figures from the tour (3500 Number of individual wardrobe elements for tour / 200 Triangle sponges used ot apply makeup / 180 Q-Tips used for entire tour (3 per night)). Since Godfather are the only label to produce Madonna releases it can safely be said this is the definitive statement from the current tour which is a shame since there are many great performances that are worthy of being issued and demonstrates that the artist is more than the triumph of style over substance.