Album + Live
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There were two things that stood out about Madonna's 51-date 2006 Confessions tour. First, by raking in a tidy $260.1 million, it easily became the highest-grossing tour by a female artist... ever, and second, by attaching herself to a giant mirrored cross, she secured, at a guess, about 260 million column inches of criticism from religious leaders in every country she set foot. So with headline-makers focussing energy on money and religion, little was written about the music. Thankfully the good folks at Warner have churned out a live album of the singer's London date to help fill the gap.
In keeping with the non-stop roller disco feel of Madonna's *Confessions On A Dancefloor *album, the live version is a big fat neon light of a pop-dance explosion. There's a party going on, and unless you were there in the first place, you're not invited. Whistles and whoops rarely cease and applause ripples throughout building into regular raptures for a consistently first-class performer. It's almost enough to make those who weren't there jealous. Almost.
Unlike 1.2 million others across the world, I didn't make it to see Madonna and her cross-hanging exploits. As a result, some of the magnitude of the performance is lost and the track/scene changes appear needlessly long-winded. The CD starts with a four minute applauseathon on ''Future Lovers/I Feel Love'' and finishes with an excruciating three minute audience/star duet on No. 1 hit ''Hung Up'' - Surely this could have been trimmed into a friendlier edit? Other lowlights include a ''Sorry (Remix)'' straight after the original and the dawdling ''Confessions'' which you'd hope was easier on the eye than on the ear.
Elsewhere, things are much brighter. ''Like A Virgin'', ''Erotica'' and ''Music Inferno'' (Music mixed with ''Disco Inferno''... geddit?) have been put through the disco processor with spectacular results and the unmeddled ''Sorry'' is a delight. A minute proportion of the tour-earnings have been spent on the sound quality to good effect, even if it does mean you pick up every inhalation of breath.
As far as live albums go, this is a job well done. We'll save debating the existence of live albums for another time.