Views on pop culture through my eyes

Posts tagged ‘rebel heart’

Madonna: Still the Queen of Pop

Madonna in Concert
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
The Forum

Special guest: Michael Diamond

Rebel Heart Tour

Songs performed: Iconic, Bitch I’m Madonna, Burning Up, Holy Water/Vogue, Devil Pray, Messiah, Body Shop, True Blue, Deeper and Deeper, Heartbreak City/Love Don’t Live Here Anymore, Like a Virgin, S.E.X./Justify My Love, Living for Love, La Isla Bonita, Dress You Up/Into the Groove/Lucky Star, Like a Prayer, Rebel Heart, Illuminati, Music/Candy Shop, Material Girl, La Vie en Rose, Unapologetic Bitch, Holiday

Merchandise purchased: T-shirt, program

Comments: Madonna brought her latest world tour to the Forum in Inglewood, California for an outrageous spectacular. Touring behind her 13th studio album, “Rebel Heart,” Madonna showed why she is the queen of pop and consistently one of the most exciting live performers working today.MDN65131

Say what you want about Madonna, she knows how to put on a show. She gives you a spectacular that celebrates the new music, while also mining her distinctive and deep song catalog. After 32+ years in the music business, Madonna at 57 years young — still has people talking about her, singing and dancing along to her hits, and marveling at her performances.

Madonna came on around 10:20 PM, after a DJ set by Michael Diamond from 8:15 to 9:30 PM. A video intro played while Samurai warriors marched about the stage with large crosses on poles. The opening song was “Iconic,” which features fighter Mike Tyson and Chance the Rapper (both shown on the video also). Madonna was lowered from the top of the stage in a cage, with her dancing and singing inside of it. Then the cage opened and she interacted with the other dancers on the stage.

The stage was technical marvel again for this production. It had the one main stage, with a large section in the middle that also served as a movable elevated stage. It could be used vertically as a video screen, and at an angle too with dancers moving on and around it. There was a long catwalk into the audience that looked like a cross with a heart on the bottom of it. The catwalk had a circular area that could be elevated as well as various trapdoors too.

For “Bitch I’m Madonna,” Madonna danced with a troupe of geishas on the stage. The crowd loved singing along to that line. “Burning Up” was the first of the Madonna classics for the night. She performed a rocked up version of it while playing electric guitar on the elevated stage in the middle of the catwalk.

The next segment was one of the wildest. Set to the song “Holy Water” which is Madonna’s song about her vaginal juices being like holy water. So we got bikini girls with nun’s habits on stripper poles on the catwalk area. Then in the middle, it cut to “Vogue” with images of Renaissance artwork shown on the video screens. Then it was back to the main stage for the final segment of “Holy Water” complete with a recreation of the Last Supper. And including Madonna pushing a male dancer’s face into her crotch.

While Madonna is changing costumes and preparing for the next segment, we get the video interludes. The first was for the song “Messiah.” It featured a lone shirtless male dancer who danced with a large flying white cloth… which was lifted by the aid of large fans aimed into the air. Images from the “Ghosttown” video were played on the main screen.

For “Body Shop,” Madonna and her dancers did a routine in a mechanic’s garage. She brought back “True Blue” which she hasn’t performed in years — with Madonna accompanying herself on ukulele. Another lost gem was up next “Deeper and Deeper” from 1992’s Erotica album. It was given the full production dance treatment it deserved.

A circular 2-story staircase was lowered to the end of the catwalk. Madonna performed the song “Heartbreak City” as she ascended and descended the staircase, with a male dancer climbing all over it to get to her. It culminates with Madonna tossing the guy off the top of it… and he disappears under the stage. She mixed in her cover of Rose Royce’s “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” off of the “Like a Virgin” album into this segment also.

“Like a Virgin” was a chance for Madonna to cavort on the catwalk by herself while the crowd sang along to every word.

The next interlude was for the song “S.E.X” with a bit of “Justify My Love” mixed in too. Scenes from Madonna’s Erotica and Justify My Love videos played on the back screen while on the slanted video stage, there were 4 beds with 4 different couples on the beds (3 straight, and one gay male couple). They proceeded to do a sexy routine that had the couples dancing over and grinding each other.

Next up was the Latin-themed segment. She recreated the video for “Living for Love,” with Madonna dressed up as a matador with a long dramatic cape that she had to have 2 people help carry. This was a high-energy remix of the song and not the album version. Madonna fought off her dancers who were dressed as bulls for this dramatic segment.

She re-worked a bunch of her early hits for a segment out on the catwalk. They were given a stripped down sort of Flamenco treatment. Songs included “La Isla Bonita,” “Dress You Up,” “Into the Groove” and “Lucky Star.” With her troupe of dancers in full latin-inspired costumes. “Like a Prayer” was sung next (She had been singing ‘Who’s That Girl” during most of the other tour stops). It is a definitely a crowd favorite, and always is.

The title track from the “Rebel Heart” album was up next. Madonna thanked her fans for their love over the last 32 years. She commented how the Forum was like a second home for her in Los Angeles, since she had performed there many times.

The last and most exciting of the video interludes was next. Seven dancers ascended long poles, and began to rock their bodies back and forth, causing the poles to bend and sway as well. It was set to the song “Illuminati.” Meanwhile on the stage there were more dancers outfitted in dressy tux and tails. Some of the dancers on the stage got lifted off the stage by the guys on the poles. And at times it seemed like the swaying guys were going to either hit the stage or the people in the audience because of the wide angle of the sway action.

The Hollywood segment was the last one before the finale and encore. Madonna was dressed as a sparkling flapper girl. And the troupe was either in tuxs or gowns for this segment. She started with a lounge version of “Music” before it transitioned into the version we know and love. She then mixed in “Candy Shop” from 2008’s Hard Candy album. She loves the song as she has performed it the last 2 times also (and it wasn’t even a single). Madonna did some high-energy dancing during this segment. During this segment there was even a topless girl that was dressed in an outfit inspired by Josephine Baker’s banana skirt outfit.

Another hit from the “Like a Virgin” days was performed next — “Material Girl”. It was done similar to the music video. With Madonna fending off a bunch of suitors. Madonna and the guys were on the upper edge of the slanted stage, and then pushed the guys down as she got rid of them. Then Madonna walked like a bride down the center part of the catwalk. She talked about the 3 rings of marriage: the engagement ring, the wedding ring and the suffering: saying she hasn’t been too lucky in the marriage department.

Taking a well-deserved rest, Madonna next sat down and sang the French song “La Vie en Rose” — a cover of a song by Edith Piaf. Again, it was her and the ukulele.

“Unapologetic Bitch” had Madonna and her dancers doing a routine at the end of the catwalk. They pulled someone from the crowd to be the unapologetic bitch for the night… turns out it was Katy Perry! She danced with M and the dancers and she even spanked her. Plus Madonna made her drink out of a flask shaped like a banana.

“Holiday” served as the finale. It was given a high-energy performance by Madonna and her dancers. Madonna carried a USA flag as a cape for most of this. One of her earliest hits, it remains one of her most enduring and happiest songs.

You could tell that Madonna was having a lot of fun during the show. And so was the crowd.

I was disappointed in that she didn’t do “Ghosttown” off the new album. It is one of my favorites. But she definitely surprised with some of the oldies pulled from her song catalog (Love Don’t Live Here Anymore, True Blue & Deeper and Deeper being the biggest surprises for me).

Thanks to Madonna and her troupe of talented musicians, singers, dancers, and acrobats for an amazing evening. Bring on the next tour for her 60th birthday!

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Madonna “Still a Rebel at Heart”

Everyone that knows me, knows that I am a huge Madonna fan. I have been loving this woman for over 32 years. It all started with “Holiday” and I have been with her every step of the way. I was going to originally just say a few words on the Winter Entertainment Wrapup… but I decided to write a whole blog about her new music.madonna-rebel-heart-album-cover-2014

“Rebel Heart” is Madonna’s 13th studio album. It is the follow-up to 2012’s “MDNA”. This is the album that was leaked on the internet at the end of last year. Madonna was forced to put out some of the tracks early, so she released 6 songs off of the album on Itunes, and gave her fans a release date and title for the new project.

Three more songs came out in February, with the rest of them out on March 10th. So what do I make of this 19-song album called “Rebel Heart”? This is easily her most diverse and eclectic album ever — we have dance, reggae, electronica, ballads, hip hop, folk and more. It would have easily been a double album back in the day.

The lead single “Living for Love” is her best first single since “Hung Up” from the “Confessions on the Dance Floor” CD. It has already reached #1 on the Billboard Dance chart. It is a fun dance song that recalls 90’s house music, and it features a gospel choir. Why it hasn’t gone anywhere on the Billboard Hot 100 is beyond me. Radio is totally freezing her out. She performed it on both the Grammy Awards and the Brit Awards too.

The album explores themes that Madonna has dealt with before: love, sex, religion, self esteem, and being a trailblazer. Producers on the album include: Kanye West, Diplo, Tony Gad, Ryan Tedder, Avicii and more. Special guests include: Nicki Minaj, Mike Tyson, Chance the Rapper and Nas. The 2nd single is going to be “Ghosttown” — one of my favorites from the album. It is a beautiful lush ballad.

This is the first time that Madonna has acknowledged her past in the songs. She has a bit of “Vogue” in “Holy Water” and some of “Justify my Love” in “Best Night.” She also built almost a whole song around references to her old songs in “Veni Vidi Vici” (I Came, I Saw, I Conquered).

There is only 1 real clunker for me, and that’s the song called “S.E.X.” Yes, we get it she likes sex, but the song itself is a bit ackward to me. And it doesn’t feel the least bit sexy either. Much better as far as sex appeal is “Best Night” (I like the world music vibes on this song). “Body Shop” is interesting with the car/sex references and the country guitars. “Holy Water” is interesting too musically, but the lyrics are about her vaginal juices being like ‘holy water’. Yeah, TMI! I do like the “Vogue” reference in the song.

Other highlights for me include: “Bitch, I’m Madonna” (one of her weirdest songs ever, but one that has grown on me, and sure to be fun in concert), “Joan of Arc” (showing some vulnerability), “Hold Tight” (another nice midtempo song), “Iconic” (about striving for excellence in your life), “Veni Vidi Vici”, “Inside Out” (another sexy love song), and the title track “Rebel Heart” too. In that song Madonna looks back on her life and career, the triumphs and missteps along the way. And she concludes that “Hell yeah, this is me, right where I am supposed to be.”

One thing for sure is that Madonna is never content to stay the same. And she challenges her fans with songs as diverse as this collection offers. She is always interesting and definitely has a unique and powerful perspective on life and love.

The album also comes in a 14-song version, as well as a super deluxe version with 4 more songs and 2 remixes. Of those extra songs, I like “Graffiti Heart” and “Beautfiul Scars” the best. Final grade: B-

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

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