Unapologetically Iconic

By Corey Reed

The Air Canada Centre, in the heart of Toronto, was abuzz on the evening of October 5th. The soggy, foggy weather shrouding the skyline did nothing to dampen the spirits of nearly 15,000 excited concert-goers, who held tickets for one of the most hyped, heavily anticipated shows of the year. After her successful MDNA Tour in 2012, Madonna had recorded and released her 13th album, Rebel Heart, and was now touring in support of the explosive record.

Staff at the Air Canada Centre were simply not prepared for the cascade of energetic Madonna fans that had literally overtaken the arena – at least half of whom were dressed in costumes mimicking the complete spectrum of different eras of the Queen of Pop’s career. Once 7 pm rolled around, the gates opened and security scanned dozens of lines of attendees. Walls upon walls of Madonna merchandise were eaten up and yanked off the shelves. The sound of wallets opening and debit machines pinging nearly drowned out the excited chatter of the ticket-holders.

Arriving at their pre-selected seats, ranging in price from $110 to $1500, attendees were greeted with a truly monstrous stage, consisting of a rectangular main stage with a catwalk that took over nearly the whole floor of the arena. It formed the shape of a cross in the middle, and the far end consisted of a giant heart-shaped second stage, all lined in vivid multi-coloured lighting.        

At 9:45pm (forty-five minutes late, as is typical Madonna fashion), the packed arena suddenly grew dark, much to the overwhelmed screams of the audience. Before they knew it, they were witnessing Madonna descending from the ceiling in a giant metal cage, surrounded by video screens and more than 20 backup dancers clad in samurai armour. Opening with the brand new track Iconic, she stepped out of the cage to an explosion of screams and cheers. Strutting the expansive catwalk surrounded by the samurai dancers wielding and twirling staves with crosses at the end, she sang flawlessly – it was clearly not playback. Then, to the pleased cheers from the audience, she was handed a black electric guitar, ripping into a heavy rock version of her classic hit Burning Up. Falling to the catwalk floor on her knees, she shredded a fiery solo in the faces of delighted fans.

Throughout the night, there were countless memorable moments – much of the time akin to a Michael Jackson or Cirque du Soleil spectacle. Literally everybody rose out of their seats, mouths agape, when she performed her new cut Holy Water, surrounded by scantily clad stripper nuns (yes, you read that right). At one point, Madonna herself climbed to the top of a cross-shaped stripper pole, smirking before landing (in black stilettos) on one of her nun dancers who had suspended herself halfway up. Literally surfing a spinning stripper nun, she continued to sing, breaking into classic smash Vogue before heading to the main stage to re-enact The Last Supper – where she was on the menu. It left heads shaking in awe.

Nobody was questioning Madonna’s vocal ability when she pulled out a ukulele and performed a heart-warming acoustic version of her smash hit True Blue. The same went for when she grooved down the catwalk to the heart stage during Deeper And Deeper, clad in rockabilly attire and backed by a small army of precision dancers.          

The most powerful, striking moments of the evening were saved for the final hour. Climbing a giant spiral staircase that had descended from the ceiling to land on the heart stage, she belted out the new power-ballad Heartbreak City as a male acrobat flung himself about, yanking Madonna around as she sang while hanging over the rails into oblivion. Later on, after belting out a soaring performance of La Isla Bonita, came a Latin-infused rendition of Dress You Up, mashed with verses of Into The Groove and Lucky Star, complete with Frida Kahlo-inspired video backdrops and outfits.

Towards the end of the night, Madonna powered through Material Girl, which was performed live for the first time ever. She brought out the ukulele again for an incredibly intimate rendition of Edith Pilaf’s Vie En Rose that received a standing ovation. No playback here.

Clad in nothing but Swarovski crystals, she invited Nelly Furtado, who was attending, on stage to spank and fondle while performing new track Unapologetic Bitch. Closing out the show was her first ever hit, Holiday. Draped in a Canadian flag, she danced around the catwalk and stages flanked by countless partying dancers.

It was a night to remember. For all of the negativity regarding this music legend, it is understandable to have a biased opinion on Madonna already. This woman was performing as if her life depended on it, and enjoying every moment of it. Once you attend one of her spellbinding shows, however, you’ll gain the knowledge that she is performing purely out of love and talent. No auto tune. No trickery. Just Madonna as she has always been – whether you like it or not

Photo Credit: Corey Reed


An Ottawa-based writer, born in Cobourg, Ontario. A shortlisted winner of the 2014 National Capital Writing Contest, Reed is currently studying Professional Writing at Algonquin College to further hone his skills. His passions include ocean liner history, Art Deco design, fiction writing and everything to do with Stevie Nicks.

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Thruway Restaurant

By Samantha Meijer
13 October 2015

Thruway: 10432 Hwy 7, Carleton Place, On. K7C 3P4
Contact: (613)-257-5326
Price Range: main courses range from $5 to $30

The night's off to a great start when you walk into a restaurant and are seated right away. The customer’s first impression of front staff will make or break your business. For the Thruway, a family-style restaurant that's been around for 39 years, this is their immediate selling feature. I was already pleased with the quick response to service from the minute I walked into the restaurant. It was a busy evening, but they weren't short on staff.

The atmosphere also incorporates that idea of family. In the literal sense, the Thruway is filled with families, friends, or even the usual trucker stopping en route to some unknown destination. It's like Thanksgiving with the family, plus fifty other people unknown to you. The lighting sets the scene, creating a cozy feel that's coupled with the wood-and-brick backdrop. The minimal decor – currently representing fall – provides a little colour to the scene, while also maintaining its cleanliness.

Seated in a booth, with a backrest covered in a fabric with a 20th century prairie village motif, I ordered my meal. I chose the clubhouse sandwich on whole wheat, with fries on the side. As I waited for my meal to come, I continued to take in the ambience. I watched as hosts and hostesses moved at a quick pace back and forth between the kitchen and the tables they were tending. I watched as they cautiously carried the plates, sometimes three at a time, to the awaiting customers, while others used a tray to cover every dish at their table of ten. I listened to the soft hum of chatter, and the music wafting between the chatter, all of which seemed to silence when a dish was dropped and a swarm of workers hurriedly cleaned up the mess. An accident, one that turned heads for a moment, and then turned them back to the chattering hum.

In under 20 minutes I had my meal in front of me. Be careful, the plate's still warm. The clubhouse sandwich is stacked two layers high, cut into four separate triangles, and held together with a slim toothpick. Each section has: bread, lettuce, fresh turkey, bread, lettuce, bacon, tomato, and then bread again. Mayonnaise is given to you in a small container in order to cover all who like it on their sandwich, and then for those who prefer to use it instead for their fries. The fries, which are lightly seasoned, are scattered around the remaining portion of the plate. A circular pocket's left open for the container of coleslaw, which is delectable, and this happens to be coming from someone who's never tasted anything but her mother's coleslaw. The plate's then decorated with speckles of parsley, giving it a touch of artistic appeal.

I was pleased with the overall efficiency of the service, and the quick response to problems with general meal orders. I took my father with me, who happened to have the filet of sole with potatoes, carrots, celery, and corn on the cob. He had asked for his potatoes to be roasted, and they accidentally came back with baked. He didn't have an issue with this, but they were more than willing to fix this mistake, and not even a minute later were back with his order of roasted potatoes.

This is a restaurant to try, for the experience of both the home-style meals and family atmosphere. If you happen to go on a weekend, ask for Paul to be your host. It will most likely return your faith in good service, along with the idea that genuinely good people still exist. 

Photo Credit: Sam Meijer


Samantha is an avid reader and writer, who finds relaxation in the imaginary worlds she creates. Her non-fiction work has been published for the Canadian Wildlife Federation, and she has won awards for her short fiction in the annual Remembrance Day Legion contest. When she's not writing, Samantha is sketching famous or familial people.

CWF | Royal Canadian Legion