It’s been 20 years since Madonna last performed at the BRIT Awards. So there was a lot of buildup ahead of her performance. By now I’m sure you’ve heard that she fell. She couldn’t get her cloak untied in time and the dancers pulled and she went over and God, that looked dangerous. I mean it could have gone seriously sideways.
But Madonna is a professional. And no one knows better that the Show Must Go On. So she jumped back up, completed the routine, and then immediately posted a response on social media about what happened:
Apart from the stumble though, which, conveniently, is one of the lyrics in the song, the performance itself wasn’t all that much different from what we saw at the Grammys. Not my favourite. There’s something… missing? A freedom, I think.
Iain, my Madonna guru, the most informed – and sane – Madonna scholar I know, who always, admirably, manages to be supportive and objective about his raison d’etre, calls it “cautious”. She was cautious at the Grammys. She was cautious last night. And to me, it has less to do with age than with, maybe, nerves?
I wonder if that combination of anxiety and Madonna’s famed control freak behaviour is preventing her from hitting her top gear. Because if you’ve watched her on tour, you know she still has that gear, and she can hit it. She hits it all the time. (Click here to see.) She just isn’t hitting it right now.
One of Madonna’s trademarks throughout her career has been to keep changing, to keep us guessing. Living For Love doesn’t feel fresh. But there is the potential for something fresh on Rebel Heart.
How long has it been since we’ve had a Crazy For You? Or a Live To Tell? Oh Father?
There are a few of them on the album. Ghosttown is currently my favourite. Listen to this song. Imagine what she could do with the video. When the chorus kicks in. And a live version of this. How she’d present it on stage. The choreography she could deliver with this. It can still be complicated, high energy. But it would touch you in a different way. In a way that finally feels new again.