Madonna: concert review + setlist

The pop icon’s latest live show is equal parts brilliant and baffling

Madonna brought her usual tireless energy to the MGM Grand over the weekend.
Photo: Tom Donoghue/DonoghuePhotography.com

The Details

three stars
October 13, MGM Grand Garden Arena

During “Like a Prayer,” the penultimate song of her Saturday-night concert at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Madonna had nearly the entire audience singing along as she ran around the stage, clasping fans’ hands, forging a connection via only her voice and her music. In the middle of the song, she got down on her knees, fists pounding and head banging to the music, a moment of pure exuberance with no massive sets or intricate dance routines or elaborate costumes required.

For the most part, though, all of those things dominated the show. The early part of the performance featured so much physicality from Madonna and her dancers that it was sometimes like watching a stunt show rather than a concert, distracting from the music as much as enhancing it. The sultry “Gang Bang,” one of the show’s nine songs from uneven recent album MDNA, found Madonna playacting an entire action sequence, gunning down masked dancers from a set made to look like a seedy hotel room.

Madonna: 2012 MDNA at MGM Grand

The show’s heavy, lethargic first act gave way to bubbly energy with the singer and her dancers dressed as drum majors for “Express Yourself” and “Give Me All Your Luvin’,” and the concert’s most playful moments were the most enjoyable. Although the MDNA songs dominated the set, older songs “Vogue,” “Human Nature” (with the stage filled with giant mirrors so that Madonna was literally dancing with herself) and “Express Yourself” (with a bit of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” thrown in as a sly acknowledgement of the songs’ similarities) stood out as highlights. As she has on previous tours, Madonna brought new approaches to her classics, with successful results aside from the turgid piano-ballad version of “Like a Virgin.”

The show’s best and worst moments were united by Madonna’s tireless energy and complete commitment to outrageous ideas both good and bad. For two hours, she almost never stopped moving; she sang, danced, played guitar, changed costumes (sometimes mid-song) and commanded constant attention. Her fans may be happy with just her voice and her songs and her presence, but Madonna is never satisfied, and has never given up on proving herself.

The setlist:

“Girl Gone Wild”


“Gang Bang”

“Papa Don’t Preach”

“Hung Up”

“I Don’t Give A”

“Express Yourself”

“Give Me All Your Luvin’”

“Turn Up the Radio”

“Open Your Heart”



“Candy Shop”

“Human Nature”

“Like a Virgin”

“Love Spent”

“I’m Addicted”

“I’m a Sinner”

“Like a Prayer”



Josh Bell

Josh Bell is the film editor for Las Vegas Weekly, where he's been writing movie and TV reviews since 2002. ...

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Previous Discussion:

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  • The show never felt rushed, and the band never sounded anything but polished, whether on new songs or slightly tweaked versions of old favorites.

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