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December 20, 2014

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Take Five:

Don’t cry for her, Vegas

Madonna: ‘Sticky & Sweet’ Tour

If You Go

  • What: Madonna: “Sticky & Sweet” tour
  • When: 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
  • Where: MGM Grand Garden Arena
  • Admission: $75-$375; 891-7777,
  • Running time: About two hours

Beyond the Sun

1. No mud on her

It’s been a rough quarter for ol’ Madonna. She turned 50. Her marriage went bust. Her brother tattled on her in a biography. Her hubby allegedly said the mother of three “looked like a granny” next to her backup dancers.

Still, as always, the infallible Madonna triumphs over all and walks away with white top hat held high. Advance reports said she was going to score yet another publicity coup by reuniting estranged pop stars Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake onstage at last night’s Los Angeles concert. Madonna brings her “Sticky & Sweet” revue — her eighth international tour — to the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are still available.

2. Madonna, Obama. Obama, Madonna

Onstage in San Diego on election night, Madonna boisterously congratulated President-elect Barack Obama before a giant projected backdrop of an Obama campaign poster that read, “WE WON.” It will take several plays of the YouTube clip to make out what she’s saying (the multiple expletives come through loud and clear), but we decoded this much of her encomium: “This is a historical evening. This is (expletive) important evening ... We are lucky to be sharing it with each other,” she hollered, guitar strapped on, forcing the audience to clap along. “This is the beginning of a whole new world. Open your (expletive) head!” Introducing “Express Yourself,” she said, “This is the part in the show where I need you to sing along, because as you know I often forget the words to my songs. I have a lot on my mind as you might imagine ...” It ended with Madonna getting the crowd to chant “We are one!”

3. Expat/Re-pat

Long before she married Guy Ritchie and moved to the English countryside, the Detroit native was ribbed for her dodgy, on-again, off-again British accent (the British media affectionately call her “Madge.” Madonna has said she will be moving back to New York and is reportedly “begging” actress pal Gwyneth Paltrow (who also married an Englishman, but whose accent is vastly more credible) to spend more time in Manhattan with her.

4. Keep your day job

No one puts more elbow grease into a project than Madonna, but her efforts to be taken seriously as an actress have fallen flat on stage and screen. Never one to give up, Madonna recently climbed behind the camera as the producer, director and co-writer of “Filth and Wisdom,” a comedy about London’s ethnic stew starring Gogol Bordello singer Eugene Hutz. Reviews from the movie’s Berlin Film Festival premiere were mixed, but Madonna’s directorial debut was more warmly received than Ritchie’s latest gangster flick, “Rocknrolla.” That must feel good, because as we all know, no one is more competitive than Her Madgesty.

5. Spoiler alert

“Sticky & Sweet” is Madonna’s first major venture from her landmark 10-year, $120 million recording and business deal with Live Nation. The show is presented in four acts: Pimp, Old School, Gypsy and Rave.

According to my friend Aidin Vaziri, who saw the concert in Oakland last weekend, Madonna performs eight out of 12 tracks from the newish “Hard Candy” CD. “ ‘Vogue,’ Vaziri wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle, “was stripped of its sleek house hook and served over a skeletal rhythm; ‘Borderline’ was reinvented as a two-chord punk surge featuring Madonna on lead-ish guitar; and ‘Like a Virgin’ was essentially handed over to thousands of off-key voices in a halfhearted singalong.

“It was OK,” Vaziri concluded. “Even if the new songs feel a little like Gwen Stefani’s leftovers, suggesting that, for once, Madonna has actually fallen behind the pop-culture curve she always capitalized on so brilliantly, she worked so hard selling them that by the end of the night, the audience felt breathless even as the singer kept bounding forward.”

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