May 1, 2006
Madonna wins over restless crowd at Coachella fest
By Jonathan Cohen
PALM DESERT, California (Billboard) - Madonna made her
festival debut at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in
southern California, performing six songs Sunday in front of
one of the largest crowds ever to witness an artist at the
The pop singer was more than 20 minutes late starting, and
her delayed set drew several rounds of booing from the sea of
humanity packed into and around the Sahara Tent at the Empire
Polo Field in Indio, about 120 miles east of Los Angeles.
But she oozed personality once taking the stage, at one
point shouting at a fan who had thrown water onto the stage and
then wiping it up herself, and later asking the audience,
"Everybody, does my ass look okay?"
The set featured her latest hit single "Hung Up," "Get
Together," "I Love New York," "Ray of Light," "Let It Will Be"
and the vintage "Everybody." The show served as a warm-up for
the May 21 kick-off of her Confessions tour in Los Angeles.
Other highlights at Coachella, which drew about 60,000
people, included Depeche Mode, Kanye West and Daft Punk on the
first day, and Massive Attack, Scissor Sisters, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
and Gnarls Barkley on the second.
Depeche Mode closed the main stage Saturday with a set that
drew from all eras of its three-decade career. At the outset,
the veteran synth-pop act favored such new songs as "A Pain
That I'm Used To," "Precious" and "Suffer Well," but then
transitioned into oldies like "I Feel You," "Walking in My
Shoes," "Stripped" and "World in My Eyes."
The biggest hits came toward the end, as the crowd roared
for "Personal Jesus" and "Enjoy the Silence." The encore saw
the most vintage selection, "Photographic," from Depeche Mode's
1981 debut "Speak and Spell." Belying his 43 years, shirtless
frontman Dave Gahan commanded the stage in tight black pants
and often growled between-song thank-yous to the masses.
West was a late addition to the lineup, but proved a
crowd-pleasing choice despite having to alter his set list
mid-stream due to his late start time. The hits were plentiful,
from "Jesus Walks," "All Falls Down" and "Slow Jamz" to "Gold
Digger" and "Heard 'Em Say." West also showed off his dance
moves while DJ A-Trak spun portions of Al Green's "Let's Stay
Together," Michael Jackson's "Rock With You" and A-Ha's "Take
Common performed just before West, engaging the audience
with a break-dancing demonstration and by selecting a woman
from the crowd to dance with him while his DJ began playing R.
Kelly's "Bump 'N Grind." His set featured "Faithful," the peppy
"Go" and "It's Your World," during which he jumped onto the
drum riser to bash a cymbal.
Playing its first U.S. show in years, Daft Punk did not
disappoint, pummeling an overflow crowd in the dance-dominated
Sahara Tent with tracks like "Around the World," "Robot Rock,"
"Television Rules the Nation," "Technologic" and "Da Funk." The
performance was made all the more dramatic by the duo's
metallic robot costumes and a psychedelic light show.
My Morning Jacket were a highlight of the smaller outdoor
theater in the late afternoon, its members thrashing their
bearded heads to rockers like "Mageetah," "Wordless Chorus,"
"One Big Holiday," "Gideon" and the stoner jam "Off the
Record." TV On The Radio got the crowd in the Mojave tent
moving with skewed, arty tracks such as the set-closing
"Ambulance," which featured an impressive beat box rhythm by
Other highlights from day one included an afternoon
performance by U.K. rock act the Duke Spirit (whose bassist,
Toby Butler, played with his right arm in a sling), Cat Power's
Southern soul-drenched set with the Memphis Rhythm Band, Eagles
Of Death Metal's cover of Stealers Wheel's "Stuck in the Middle
With You" and Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley performing his father's
classics "Exodus" and "Could You Be Loved."
The next day, playing their first U.S. show in eight years,
Massive Attack delivered a powerful set led by material from
its 1998 album, "Mezzanine." Cocteau Twins vocalist Liz Fraser
made a rare appearance to sing such tracks as "Teardrop" and
"Black Milk," while Horace Andy took the mic for "Man Next
Door" and "Angel." The set also featured "Inertia Creeps,"
"Safe From Harm" and "Future Proof."
The Scissor Sisters kept the party going on the second
outdoor stage with unabashed dance pop tunes like "Take Your
Mama," "T*** on the Radio," "Laura," "Mary" and their hit cover
of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb." Vocalist Ana Matronic also
led the crowd in a collecting howling at the moon early in the
Gnarls Barkley shared Scissor Sisters' flair for the
dramatic, choosing to take the stage decked out as characters
from "The Wizard of Oz." Vocalist Cee-Lo eventually stripped
down to his undershirt to belt out "Transformer," "Smiley
Face," "Necromancing" and "Crazy," which is now in its fifth
week at No. 1 on the U.K. singles chart.
Not to be outdone, Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontman Karen O trotted
out one of her trademark sparkling stage outfits for the band's
early evening set on the main stage. The group opened with
"Cheated Hearts" from its new album "Show Your Bones" and also
played new single "Gold Lion," "Phenomena," "Art Star," "Turn
Into" and its breakthrough hit, "Maps."