Madonna in Philadelphia: “One Remarkable Android”

The last time I saw Madonna on stage was her televised performance of "La Isla Bonita" with Gogol Bordello (whom I love, love, love) at Al Gore’s 2007 Live Earth concert. She seemed out of breath, out of shape (relatively speaking), and generally out of sync. But judging by her in-the-round performance last night at the Wachovia Center, the last year, which included her tabloid divorce from Guy Ritchie (reportedly being finalized today), has been good to her.

The 50-year old dynamo emitted a haze of brilliance (as captured on my four-year old Nokia phone) and never missed a beat as she shook her saucy stuff for a near-capacity crowd who paid up to $350 face value for the privilege (or $613 including the Madonna-less VIP party). Whether she was strumming a guitar, grinding with gypsy musicians, arriving to the stage in a 1935 Auburn Speedster, playfully engaging the audience (or antagonizing them: She told a man in the front, "You need to work out more if you’re gonna wear that shirt"), slamming down on her bejeweled kneepads, or showing up her much, much younger dancers, Madonna was excessively precise. Impossibly flawless. Or, as Chris Allen, the gentleman who flew in from Las Vegas and who said he was one of her Grammy dancers many years ago, put it: "She’s one remarkable android."

If you can manage to get your hands on tickets for her Saturday-night performance in Atlantic City (only singles are available through Ticketmaster, but this is A.C., so if you know someone …), expect to hear a healthy dose of classics like "Borderline," "Bonita," and "Vogue") as well as plenty of material from her more recent, less interesting body of work. But mostly, expect shock, awe, and a performance easily worth the price of admission.