Thirty-years after the release of her first single, Madonna remains as successful and controversial as ever, but has also become reflective over her long tenure as one of pop music’s biggest names.

She spent her 30th anniversary performing a two-hour Saturday night show at HP Pavilion in San Jose as part of her MDNA world tour that touches on sexual and religious themes — just like her past tours — ­ but this time adds gunplay and violence.

So, what’s the best way to celebrate three decades in the music industry? Madonna’s answer seemed to be: “Strike a Pose.”

“Take off some articles of clothing and let your hair down,” is the advice she gave the audience. True to her word, the 54-year-old “Material Girl” performed an eye-catching strip tease midway through the show that left her bare bottom showing… and left little else to the imagination. ­ That was, perhaps, a response to those critics who claim she¹s too old by showing that, more than any other entertainer, she can still mix pop music with sexuality and a sophistication.

After showing off her a**(ets) on stage, Madonna recounted: “I remember living as a broke a** in New York when I finally heard my first song on the radio.”

“I’m proof that dreams do come true, so be careful what you wish for,” she told the crowd of about 18,000, in between performances of some of her vintage hits dating back to the ’80s coupled with releases from her MDNA album, which came out earlier this year.

One of her impressively performed classics was “Express Yourself” ­ in which she took an apparent swipe at Lady Gaga for being a copycat by illustrating just how easily “Born This Way” fits into the melody of her own song.

Aside from the strip tease and the number of costume and hair changes throughout… the concert itself was nothing short of phenomenal. Starting with her opening number where she popped out of a confessional in a virtual church scene, to playing the role of a deadly diva in a seedy motel shootout and posing as a cheerleader while escorted by a marching band across the stage, the show was visually ambitious but never at the expense of the music. Critics be damned, Madonna remains one of the most challenging artists on the concert scene, and she’s been doing it longer than some of her rivals have been alive. 

Jim Parker, CBS San Francisco 


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