INGLEWOOD, California -- A better title for Madonna's Confessions tour might be the Go to Confession Tour, as you feel like you need to by the time the show is over.
As we've come to expect from Madonna, her latest tour, which she kicked off Sunday at the Forum, is so provocative that it's hard to count the ways.
Let's see, there was the whole hanging on a cross, wearing a crown of thorns thing. The riding the rhinestone-studded, black leather carousel like she's the main attraction at the erotic shop across town thing. And, of course, that nasty George Bush comment thing, which she brought back from her Coachella show last month.
The show started off nice and sweet with images of horses on the screens and Madonna in full equestrian attire descending from the ceiling in a one-ton disco ball. A closer look at that outfit, however, revealed she's going for the dominatrix look and that whip wasn't meant for a horse.
As Madonna sang "Future Lovers," mixing in a little of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" for good measure, her leather-strapped male dancers slithered around her like a lost scene from "Eyes Wide Shut." "Get Together" offered more of the same, but nothing could have prepared the capacity crowd for what would follow -- and we're not talking about her own X-rays on the screens.
Bringing "Like a Virgin" out of the vaults, Madonna introduced the song by asking the audience if they wanted to go for ride. She then saddled up on a carousel-like set piece and rode it like no carousel should be ridden.
The moves sent the room into a frenzy and caused one of the only sing-a-longs of the set, which featured 10 Confessions on a Dancefloor tracks and, unlike the Re-Invention Tour that launched in the same venue almost two years ago (see [article id="1487434"]"Madonna Twirls Rifle, Lifts Up Her Kilt At Tour Opener"[/article]), only a few old favorites.
As is the case with all of her tours, however, Madonna gives you a lot to watch. Her fourth tune, "Jump," might have featured the most impressive eye candy of all. Between the jungle gym that descended onto the runway and the crew of perfectly toned tumblers racing around, it was like the Olympic gymnastics freestyles finals on Red Bull.
She's faced criticism over her music and spiritual practices, but at the end of the day, the Material Girl just wants to have fun.
For her next tune, Madonna made one of her seven costume changes and returned to the center of the stage à la Jesus Christ on the cross (if that cross were built in 2006 ... by Marilyn Manson), singing "Live to Tell." Like Kanye West on the cover of Rolling Stone, it was a fascinating image, whether or not you think it's immoral.
The middle of the set was mostly a showcase of Confessions, including a stirring rendition of "Isaac" featuring the song's namesake guest voice (see [article id="1511816"]"Madonna Denies Blasphemy Charges, Explains Origin Of 'Isaac' "[/article]) and a video montage for "Sorry" that managed to knock most of the world's leaders. "Don't say forgive me," Madonna sang as pictures of the war in Iraq flashed with shots of President Bush.
In "I Love New York," during which Madonna played a black guitar surround by her six-piece band suddenly covered head-to-toe in white, the singer not only added "but not you guys" after the "Los Angeles is for people who sleep" line, but changed the "Just go to Texas/ Isn't that where they golf" lyric to a derogatory anti-Bush remark ("Just go to Texas and suck George Bush's d---"; see [article id="1529895"]"Madonna, Kanye Just Add To Coachella's Eclectic Atmosphere"[/article])."
Aside from those references, though, Madonna kept her political comments to a minimum. In fact, she kept all her comments to a minimum, only encouraging people to dance when the time was right, like "Ray of Light."
After delivering the back-to-back ballads "Drowned World" and "Paradise (Not for Me)," Madonna got back to her business of catering to the dance floor and her band launched into a version of "Music" that mashed with the 1977 Trammps hit "Disco Inferno."
While dancers whisked around her on roller skates, Madonna donned a white suit and danced down the runway to the small stage in the middle of the arena, where she did her best "Saturday Night Fever"-era John Travolta routine, complete with the "hitchhike" (you know, thumbs to the side).
"Erotica" was, well ... you guessed it (let's just say it was performed in a body suit) and "La Isla Bonita" was reinvented with a salsa groove.
With the exhausted crowd at its peak, Madonna brought out another oldie in "Lucky Star" but modernized the track with a techno beat that slowly morphed into "Hung Up."
For the Confessions single, Madonna returned to center stage for the same provocative (told you there were many) performance she gave at the Grammys, only this one included a few new twists.
And as the curtain (or in this case, a giant curved screen) came up and the lights came on -- no encore for the second straight tour -- a message flashed across the screen: Have You Confessed?
The Confessions Tour returns to the Forum on Tuesday and Wednesday before moving Las Vegas for the weekend (see [article id="1527654"]"Madonna Sets Dates For Confessions World Tour"[/article]).
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.