Well, technically, she’s calling it the Rock This Country tour, but it’s being marketed as both her return to and retirement from the road.
I should be all over this. She’s one of my favorite all-time artists, and I loved her tour in support of Up!, which I still consider her best album.
But even though I enjoyed her Vegas television special last month, and even though any set list would be stacked with songs that I love, I’m honestly not that interested in seeing the show.
This is for a simple reason: She’s not touring in support of new material.
I think I’m in the minority on this one, but I don’t like it when an artist only plays their hits from the past. There’s something sterile about it, as if artistic vitality has been left in the rear view mirror and the artist is just attempting to recreate a time that has already passed.
Longtime readers know that I’m a big Madonna fan, and I’ll probably see her new tour at least two or three times. If her previous tours are any indication, I’ll be surrounded by some concertgoers that are very irritated that they spent all this money to watch her perform songs they’ve never heard, even if at least half the set list is classic hits. I’ll tune them out and focus on what I came to see: all those amazing new songs from Rebel Heart that only get one shot at being performed on a tour.
This is true of all the country acts I follow, too. Sure, it’s not a Pam Tillis show without “Maybe it Was Memphis,” or a Todd Snider show without “Beer Run.” But if they did only the old stuff without new material mixed in, it would feel like a repeat of something I’ve already seen done better. Snider’s got a great song called “Age Like Wine,” and he captures this dilemma perfectly:
“My new stuff is nothing like my old stuff was, and neither one is much when compared to the show…which will not be as good as some other one you saw.”
I’m not the guy he’s singing about, but I’m sure at his last show that I attended, those words rang true with audience members who didn’t understand why Songs for the Daily Planet wasn’t performed in its entirety.
So Madonna gets my money instead of Shania Twain this year, because I’d rather hear “Devil Pray” and “Joan of Arc” for the first time, instead of hearing “That Don’t Impress Me Much” done the same way I heard her do it twelve years ago.
Where do you fit in on this? Do you want to hear the new stuff live, or would you rather just hear the hits?