WITH thousands of unsold seats impeding their business, the ticket touts began plying their trade early outside Haymarket Station in Edinburgh’s West End last night.
Groups of girls sang Lady Gaga songs as they walked along to the Murrayfield venue. Anonymous DJ support Alesso got the party started with a set of formulaic club bangers.
It wasn’t the most auspicious start to the Queen of Pop’s debut Scottish appearance.
But this is Madonna, the woman who helped write the rulebook for the modern pop spectacular and could, on form, eat any of the current pop princess pretenders for breakfast. Scotland may be a coy conquest but her MDNA tour has already been projected to break box office records for a solo artist by the time it winds up next year.
The opening ritualistic routine alone – her latest spin on the sacred and profane – set the atmospheric scene, before she ploughed into Revolver, aka the one where she waves the gun about. Even in the aftermath of the Denver shootings, there appeared to be no compromise in the presentation, as she pursued her marked man through the tuneless Gang Bang.
Overall, the set was weighted heavily with selections from her generic MDNA album, which has not set the global critics alight. Though she tantalised with interpolated snippets of her better loved oldies, the killer greatest hits set she could so easily have delivered will have to wait.
But if the singalong tuneage was lacking, especially in the early stages of the show, as a piece of pop theatre, this was immaculately and at times cynically choreographed to revisit key Madonna themes and imagery, including crucifixes, confession, bondage (for Hung Up) and a bed on which to do the dirty.
Energy levels in the crowd shot up when she launched into a baton-twirling Express Yourself, impishly following a burst of Gaga’s Born This Way with the ad lib that “she’s not me”. Open Your Heart was then reworked in fascinating tribal percussive style with Madonna and her stomping troupe of dancers kitted out in Basque berets.
Reminding the crowd that her last visit to Scotland was to get married (to ex-hubbie film producer Guy Ritchie in Dornoch), she expressed the hope that “this visit is a more lasting and beautiful memory.” The uplifting finale of Like A Prayer, with full choral backing, took care of that.
• A previous version of this article displayed five stars due to a production error. This has now been amended.