Most Americans got their election returns Tuesday night from Brian Williams, Wolf Blitzer or one of the other distinguished anchors.
The beautiful people packed into Consol Energy Center found out who their next president was from, of all people, the woman who dances around in lingerie and sings "Like a Virgin."
It was quite a way for Madonna to spend her first night in Pittsburgh since 1985. To be exact, it started Tuesday night and ended Wednesday morning. She hit the stage around 10:45, thinking perhaps that the fans who paid hundreds for the tickets didn't have jobs to get to the next morning.
What her patient and long-suffering Pittsburgh fans got was a highly choreographed, highly stylized pop spectacle and an Obama victory celebration from one of the artists who helped re-define pop spectacle in the '80s.
She's had a knack for throwing her sexed-up dance-pop into the face of her Catholic heritage, and we didn't have to wait long for it Tuesday. The stage was set as a cathedral with robed monks performing a mass under a fiery, swinging thurible, when Madonna burst out of the confession booth in gangsta black to confess her sins and sing (along with the track to) "Girl Gone Wild," the monks turning into her spectacular topless dancers.
It launched her very physical concert journey from darkness to light, breaking down roughly into a narrative of religion, violence, sex and spiritual release.
"Revolver" took us from god to guns, with murderous Madonna and her girl dancers packing heat that went off during "Gang Bang," blood soaking the video screens as she sang "bang bang, shot ya, shot my lover in the head" and did a balletic tussle with a dancer in a Tarantino-looking motel scene. "Papa Don't Preach" was a brief roll on the floor before she was manhandled and bound by military thugs doing a cool tightrope dance, which she joined, on "Hung Up."
It was a relief when things turned sweet and bubbly, the 54-year-old Madonna marching around in a majorette uniform for "Express Yourself," combined with its knockoff, Lady Gaga's "Born This Way." "She's not me!" Madonna chanted with her backup singers, bringing us to the cheerleader pop of "Give Me All Your Luvin'," complete with a marching band suspended from ropes.
In the Euro-styled mid-section, things went off script when Madonna learned that "my baby, Barack" had been re-elected. After the wild Eastern European dance on an "Open Your Heart" that was more jubilant than ever, she yelled "Do you know what just happened?!" and led the crowd in a chant "[f] yeah." When she heard a few boos, she said, "I love you too, but I want a president with a moral compass." She briefly apologized for her partisanship, then added, "Why am I sorry!?" It led her into an impromptu version of "Holiday" with a spinning "happy dance," as she called it, and a bit more emotion on the ballad "Masterpiece."
We mentioned sex, right? Yeah. Things got racy, as she was groped by a dancer on "Candy Shop," while singing "my sugar is raw," and she stripped down to a bustier and a thong, as she promised if Obama won, for "Human Nature"/"Like a Virgin," done as a slow dirge that showed off her most seductive vocal. The segment ended with her writhing and rolling in money she asked people to throw on stage for Hurricane Sandy victims as she sang "Love Spent."
For the big climax, the whole crew went Shaolin style for "I'm Addicted" and the world beat "I'm a Sinner" building to a rousing gospel version of "Like a Prayer," capped with a trip to the modern disco for "Celebration," with a shout of "We won!"
Needless to say, it was quite a bit different than the '85 show when the young star pranced around to simple catchy pop songs like "Borderline" and "Lucky Star." That was an unforgettable one for her teen fans.
A lot of those same fans were back for this very different, much more expensive and somewhat more divisive experience with the grown-up Madge. Between the late hour, the eye-popping production, the elaborate dances, the striptease and the night's historic events, Pittsburgh's Madonna fans will always remember where they were on Election Night 2012.
Scott Mervis: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2576. First Published November 7, 2012 5:30 AM