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Matson on Music

Music news, concert reviews, analysis and opinion by music writer Andrew Matson.

October 3, 2012 at 9:50 AM

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Madonna 'kills' at KeyArena

Photo by Colin Diltz / Seattle Times; gallery here

"If my voice is a bit scratchy tonight, I still haven't recovered from all the marijuana in Vancouver," said Madonna Tuesday night at KeyArena. "Thank you for not smoking."

Madonna was not kidding around. Before she went on stage, a voice through the speakers reminded the audience not to smoke. Of course, smoking at indoor concerts is illegal in Washington. But if you had wanted to try anyway, you would have thought twice after her opening salvo.

The middle-aged Queen of Pop kicked off her concert by simulating a killing spree, complete with audiovisual effects. Wielding an assault rifle and a pistol, she pretended to fire at black-clad assailants in time with her music. Each gunshot was matched with blood splatters on a giant screen behind her, and was eardrum-cracking loud. It was extraordinarily violent.

She finished by shooting one body several times, crying out, "If you're gonna act like a bitch, you're gonna die like a bitch!"

It gave a theatrical edge to "Girl Gone Wild," followed by "Gang Bang" — songs from Madonna's new album "MDNA," which focuses on her recent divorce. But the violence was so over the top, it overshadowed the rest of the show.

And it was some show: Two hours of hits from a remarkable career, with high-budget sets and intricate choreography. "Like A Prayer" got the biggest audience response, next to "Holiday." "Vogue" was a standout, with dancers and Madonna dressed in drag. She wore pants, a button-down shirt and a necktie — and one of the iconic, pointy-breasted metal contraptions she wore in the '90s, which Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj copy today.

At one point Madonna stripped down to her bra and pants, and mooned the audience, showing her thong underwear and a tattoo on her back that said "OBAMA."

"When Obama is in the White House for his second term, I will take my pants off all the way," she said. "And that's not some cheap political promise."

At any other concert, that would have been the most memorable bit. But with that ultraviolence at the beginning, it was tough to think about anything else walking out of Seattle Center.

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