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Last Updated: Friday, 27 August, 2004, 13:29 GMT 14:29 UK
Madonna's UK tour splits critics
Madonna
Madonna mixed music with politics during her latest concerts
Critics have expressed reservations about Madonna's latest concerts as she ended the UK leg of her world tour.

The singer visited Manchester and London as part of her 56-date Re-invention tour, which visits Meath's Slane Castle on Sunday.

The star twisted her way through greatest hits and anti-war protests.

"This is a show of strange juxtapositions, one in which theatricality is often substituted for sentimentality," The Independent said.

'New earnestness'

"Each time she picks up a guitar, you know a message is soon to follow," wrote the newspaper's critic Fiona Sturges.

This mix of pop and politics, coupled with ticket prices as high as 150 each, made a number of critics uncomfortable.

"This new earnestness is terribly wearying," wrote the Daily Mail's Amanda Platell. "We came along for a singsong, and we got a sermon."

The concert ran as smoothly as a Broadway show
Ludovic Hunter-Tilney,
Financial Times
The Evening Standard agreed. "All was not wholly well. Five costumes meant four spirit-sapping interludes and the mawkish backdrop to American Life (guns, orphans, bombs) was a reminder of Madonna's unwavering political ignorance."

Nevertheless some were impressed by the sheer professionalism of the concerts.

"The concert ran as smoothly as a Broadway show," wrote Ludovic Hunter-Tilney of the Financial Times.

Showbusiness credentials

"During costume breaks we were kept entertained by a fire juggler, a skateboarder and frenetic break-dancers."

He described the staging of Madonna's songs as "imaginative, sometimes eccentrically so".

"Why she sang a syrupy ballad from Evita strapped in an electric chair was unclear, while the use of a kilted bagpiper and highland drummers on Into The Groove was even more curious."

Madonna
The 46-year-old singer proved she is as supple as ever onstage
For some critics, the fact that the 46-year-old yoga fan was still embarking on such huge tours more than proved her showbusiness credentials.

"Madonna has been playing gigs for so long she can do it standing on her head, and last night she did just that," said the News of the World.

"The likes of Emma Bunton, Rachel Stevens and even Britney Spears will never be able to captivate an audience the way Madge did," agreed the Daily Star.

Meanwhile the Daily Express noted: "Madonna's first ever gig in Britain was at the Hacienda club in Manchester more than 20 years ago - and this bold show proved she's still got what it takes to thrill her fans."

The Independent on Sunday's Simon Price compared the concert favourably to her previous Drowned World tour in 2001.

The actual show is slightly less spectacular than the gravity-defying stunts and cutting edge choreography of her last jaunt
Simon Price,
Independent on Sunday
"The actual show is slightly less spectacular than the gravity-defying stunts and cutting edge choreography of her last jaunt," he wrote, "but the selection of songs, admittedly, is superior."

Nevertheless he joined the vast majority of critics in feeling that Madonna's cover version of John Lennon's Imagine, sung against a backdrop of images of starving children, was ill-judged.

"This is the moment when I wonder whether the 150 includes a complimentary sick bag."


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