No one pulled the plug on Madonna at Hyde Park. Well, who would dare? Judging by the content of this show, she might garrotte, kick, shoot or whip any antagonist, then make a sanctimonious speech about world peace over their broken and bleeding body.
It was a typically sensationalist and schizophrenic Madonna production, mixing sex, ultra violence, religion, kitsch and politics to bizarre but entertaining effect.
It has been an interesting week of Hyde Park concerts, with big guns all impressing in very different ways. Springsteen did it with charisma, emotional content and dynamic rock power. Paul Simon did it with subtlety, detail and complex musical interplay. Madonna did it with lights, dancers, giant video screens, hydraulics, costume changes, flying drummers, tightrope walking, cheerleaders, a basque folk trio ... And music too.
I have criticised Madonna in the past for an over reliance on backing tracks and backing singers to fill in the vocal gaps while she's doing her yoga moves. But amidst the autotuned super-choreographed dance productions, the real highlight of this show was a stripped back version of Like A Virgin, performed to piano and violin in the style of Brechtian cabaret. Fragile and intense, it openly embraced the ever present subtext of her age, displaying a sexual vulnerability that was far more resonant and effective than her brief stint as a superannuated cheerleader during Gimme All Ure Luvvin. I honestly did not suspect she had that performance in her. It suggests that she might actually have somewhere creative to go as her pop appeal wanes.