It was a cold, wet night Saturday night but that didn’t stop thousands of people from lining up in the rain outside the Roxy nightclub in Manhattan to witness Madonna’s return to the club that nurtured her first single “Everybody” back in the early 80’s in advance of her 13th studio album Confessions on a Dancefloor.
Her documentary, I’m Going to Tell You a Secret had premiered on MTV the night before. In the doc, she looks out the window of her limo on the way to the opening night of her Re-Invention Tour at a giant nylon figure waving in a car repair shop parking lot and says, “That’s what my fans will be doing in their seats.” She couldn’t be closer to the truth — at least judging by what happened at the Roxy.
The most interesting part of I’m Going to Tell You a Secret was seeing the relationship she has with her kids and her husband Guy Ritchie, whose disinterest in her concerts and music is obviously what drives her attraction to him. Although after watching the burly director take part in Ju-Jitsu, it’s impossible not to see his sex appeal. I thought the documentary was okay but not as good as Truth or Dare certainly. The concert footage was pretty spectacular but the last 1/4 of the film devolved into far too preachy a sermon on religion.
Saturday night I was already inside the Roxy at the High Line benefit in celebration of meatpacking district bistro Florent’s 20th anniversary (more on that later). Those who attended that benefit were herded into the front hallway like so much cattle (top pic, above) and yelled at by a security guard for 45 minutes between the benefit and the opening of the club proper. The halls were decorated with pink lights and the “O” in Roxy at the front entrance had been replaced by the disco ball icon from the front of the Confessions album.
The nightclub slowly filled up and was as packed as I’ve ever seen it. After being teased for a few hours with samples of Madonna’s voice intoning phrases like “Confessions” and “Disco Balls”, at about 2am the lights over the stage began to flash and Madonna appeared with no introduction. Immediately the crowd, already electric with excitement, screamed with delight and raised hundreds of cell phones, snapping photos and taking movies. The cell phone is the new butane lighter.
Madonna told the crowd, “You know I have a long history with the Roxy so I only thought it appropriate that I come here to share my new album with you and dance. It all started here with 12 inches. Some girls have all the luck.”
The crowd went wild of course, and Madonna said, “Are you fucking ready? Ok, let’s go.” So many cell phones they’re almost impossible to count. Talk about hung up!
A remix of her new single Hung up began to play and Madonna began dancing and pulling people up on stage. She looked like she was having a great time. The crowd was eating it up. After Hung Up DJ Peter Rauhofer played a mix of another track on the album, I Love New York. After about 15-20 minutes of dancing with fans and singing along to the music, Madonna left as quickly as she came, disappearing through a back door in the club.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t that close to the stage and these were the best photos I could get. There are some more close up ones here. But you get the idea.
It capped off a massive, weeklong, publicity blitz by the singer, whose presence in the city where she got her start could not be ignored. Above, some walls I shot in New York’s meatpacking district. I had seen her earlier in the week at TRL after I was kindly invited along for the ride by my friend Trent over at Pink is the New Blog. Thanks, Trent! Trent even got a photo with her Madge-sty. Over the weekend, Trent posted some photos from her appearance at MisShapes, where she showed up before heading over to the Roxy.
That would be me in the photo above in the split second I appeared on Access Hollywood. I don’t think I made it into any of the TRL footage. Madonna seemed much more relaxed at the Roxy than she did at TRL. I’m sure it was more reassuring for her to see fans at a nightclub reacting so positively to her music than it was to hear the applause prompted and manufactured by the TRL producers. Any beginning of the week jitters were definitely gone. The queen of PR strikes again.