For Whom the Bell Tolls

It began with the sonorous sound of bells and it ended with them too – appropriate for Philadelphia, home of the Liberty Bell. Madonna touched down in the States and put on her most Catholic show to date. Any old queen could be forgiven for thinking that they were at high mass – there was even a sermon in the middle. And yes, it was camp, and yes it was MTV live on steroids, but it was also noir in an unexpectedly nuanced way. Gone was the previous shrillness of political point-making, and in its place a mournful meditation on mortality. She knows she’s not going to live forever and even anxious that she is going to Hell. So for the first time her (boy)toying with Catholic concepts like Confession and Sin and Damnation had a resonance bigger than the always-spectacular visuals and hotter-than-hot dancers.  It truly was something not only to watch but also behold.

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