One of the world’s most popular DJs, Paul Oakenfold is used to playing big rooms. So he was completely comfortable opening for Madonna last night at Quicken Loans Arena. While his relentless fist-pumps and head bobbing came off as rather cheesy, his set of progressive house music that included lively remixes of Blur’s “Song 2” and Rihanna’s “We Found Love” had at least some of the crowd up and dancing. Oakenfold clearly had the crowd warmed up for Madonna by the time he left the stage at 9:45 p.m.
But it took Madonna nearly an hour to finally arrive on stage. As she finally took the stage at about 10:40 p.m. to the sound of Gregorian chants and the ringing of church bells, the capacity crowd a delightfully eclectic group of housewives, cross-dressers and club-goers that made for good people watching rose to its feet. After an obligatory prayer Madonna, however, didn’t deliver on that energy, despite being accompanied by a live band and a huge ensemble of dancers. Her vocals sounded shrill on “Girl Gone Wild” and on “Gang Bang,” which she performed from the confines of a cool stage prop that looked like a cheap hotel room. “Express Yourself,” which was accompanied by a cheerleader routine, fared better and “I Don’t Give A,” a tune that featured a marching band suspended above the stage with wires, was another highlight.