Like many people, I was at the Aviva stadium last night to see the long awaited arrival of Madonna in Ireland. I've been a fan as long as I can remember, so even though I wasn't so in love with her more recent albums, I was always going to want to see her in concert. Not being a sports fan, it was also my first time in the Aviva, more about that later.
First: the music. She's still got a great voice and boy can she move. Anyone, of any age, would be lucky to have a figure like hers and the ability to leap around like she did for 2 hours. She nearly everything off her current album, which if not as well known, was certainly entertaining. Luckily I had listened to it twice, so I did know most of the music. However, I could have done with about 5 more hits from her 30 year career. The biggies were there: Vogue (fab), Papa don't preach, a very stripped down mostly a capella version of Like a Virgin (I reckon half the audience didn't recognise it until the second verse), a brilliant Human Nature done with mirrors and Like a Prayer at the end with a full gospel choir- simply fabulous. She also mashed up Express Yourself with Lady Gaga's Born this way, continuing her quest to prove they are the same song (I don't agree but Madonna obviously feels the need to remind everyone that she was doing it all, better than Gaga, before she was born) and they worked well together. However, some tracks off her current album I could have done without entirely - a section where she pretended to shoot people, though well choreographed, was just a bit dull. There was nothing from her late 90s - mid naughties period, which was a shame. A bit of Ray of Light would have been cool. She also played guitar on a couple of songs and it even looked like she was playing proper chords to 2 of them too.
The set was visually impressive, lots of moving pieces than rose and sank into the stage and large video screens at the back. Her dancers and musicians were all top notch, particular mentions for the guys on the tightropes and the Basque musicians whose name I didn't catch.
Naturally enough, I have found something to be negative about. All the press and ticket information said the show started at 19:30. I bust a gut to get over there by then and made it. A DJ (Alesso) came on at 20:00 for a half an hour and then Madonna came on at 21:10. While I was happy to sit and chat to my friends, I wished Ticketmaster had told me she wouldn't be on until later and I wouldn't have had a mad dash across the city. She played for 2 hours: solid enough without going overboard time-wise.
And so to my thoughts on the Aviva. It's very impressive. There's a great view of the city out of it, and we particularly enjoyed the roof last night. While the millionaire superstar got soaked (and frequently complained about it), we were dry. It's well-designed and speed at which it could empty was great. Far less great was trying to get back to Lansdowne Road DART station and onto said train afterwards. We were shepherded out a particular way, and had to walk back around to the station then queue to get on to the platform, where a very long Howth-bound DART waited. We wanted Malahide so we had about 15 mins before the other filled up and left. Thankfully we got seats as the train we did get (both were specially put on, thanks Iarnrod Éireann) was the slowest train in history. It was about 50 mins back to Malahide and all told I was 2 hours coming home from the end of the concert to actually standing in my apartment. Next time I go to the Aviva, I'm going to drive, park on the canal and walk up.
In summary, it was completely worth the €60 I spent on the ticket, more enjoyable than say the Lady Gaga concert. I'm not sure I'll be in a rush to see Madonna again (at least not without a time machine to take me back to 1990) but a great time was had by all.