Saturday, September 19, 2015

Five Suggestions That Would Have Made "Rebel Heart" a Better Show

It's hard to believe that it's been three days since Madonna already.  This is the first time since then that I've had any time to write about it, so..

A lot of my fellow Madonna fans aren't going to like some of the things I'm going to say here, but I feel I must.  From the initial reviews and the reactions of my friends who were at the show, it seems I am in a tiny minority when it comes to what I thought of the Rebel Heart Tour.  Perhaps it's because I love her so much I may be overly critical, and I've seen her often enough that maybe I'm just used to something different, but I didn't see the show as all that great.  

That's not to say that I didn't enjoy it.  On the contrary, I was up and dancing and having a good time all night long.  Any Madonna concert is not just any old concert.  Her shows, starting with the Blonde Ambition Tour way back when, have been downright legendary and an unparalleled experience in live entertainment.  That being said, the Rebel Heart Tour, to me, wasn't as legendary as, say the Reinvention Tour or even the MDNA show. 

Before I even discuss the show,, check out the setlist, as arranged in four separate acts:

Act One: Joan of Arc / Samurai

1. “Iconic”
2. “Bitch I’m Madonna”
3. “Burning Up”
4. “Holy Water”
5. “Vogue”
6. “Devil Pray”

Act Two: Rockabilly / Tokyo

7. “Body Shop”
8. “True Blue”
9. “Ghosttown”
A10. “HeartBreak City” / “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore”
11. “Like A Virgin”

Act Three: Latin / Gypsy

12. “SEX” contains excerpts from “Justify My Love”
13. “Living For Love”
14. “La Isla Bonita”
15. “Deeper and Deeper”
16. “Music (Get Stupid)”
17. “La Vie En Rose”

Act Four: Party / Flapper

18. “Candy Shop”
19. “Who’s That Girl”
20. “Rebel Heart”
21. “Illuminati”
22. “Material Girl”
23. “Unapologetic Bitch”
24. “Holiday”

Pretty cool, right?  You know, from the looks of the songs and from the reviews I've seen so far, this tour seems like it might be a greatest hits tour.  She's performing a  lot of songs she hasn't done in a long time, and the nostalgic tone she's taken on stage so far would seem to suggest that as well.  Well, the setlist would seem to please those fans of her earlier work, but for those of us who've followed her all along, more recent stuff was sorely missing.  That was just one of the beefs I have with the show. 

Here are five suggestions that would have made me happier with the Rebel Heart show.  Perhaps if these elements were present I'd have been on StubHub this afternoon now trying for tickets to tonight's show at Barclay Center in Brooklyn...

1 - A Stronger Opening

Madonna opened the show with Iconic, from the Rebel Heart album.  One of the key elements of any Madonna tour is drama, especially in the opening, and I thought this one was a poor choice in that department, especially in comparison to the Girl Gone Wild opener at MDNA.  Iconic is not my favorite tune off the album.  It probably will never reach single status either.  Living For Love, the upbeat debut single, would've made a much better choice to open the show.  On a side note, Bitch I'm Madonna was done way too early in the show.  Being that it's her latest single, and it's a lot of fun, perhaps it would've been better done right before Holiday at the end.

2 - What Happened to the Last 15 Years?

With the exception of Candy Shop and of course the current album, the most recent song she did was 2000's Music and before that 1992's Deeper and Deeper.  In this fan's opinion, I would much rather have seen performances of maybe Ray of Light, Human Nature, Celebration or Revolver, Hung Up, or perhaps a ditty from the last album.  Turn Up the Radio would've been cool!  Of the older stuff, True Blue was refreshing, Burning Up rocked, and Material Girl was fun, too!   I could've done without La Isla Bonita and yet another subpar version of Like a Virgin (though this one was much better than the last time!).   I know Madge's catalog is deep and wide, and I am sure it must be difficult to narrow things down, but to forget all about three of the last four albums.  Eh!

3 - No Showstoppers

I remember once upon a time, I saw the Confessions Tour in Miami with my nephew and his young Brazilian wife.  Aricalea had never seen a concert before and I took great pleasure in watching her face light up as she watched the spectacle that was that show.  Almost every Madonna concert has numbers where the entire audience is up on its feet, in awe at the happenings on stage. Unfortunately, to me none of the numbers in this show had that something special.

The closest thing that came to a showstopper was during Illuminati, which was really an interlude played over the speakers as the icon went backstage for a change of costume.  As the lights went up, several flexible poles were fixed on the stage, each with a different dancer standing atop.  The choreographed number was pretty darned cool and one of my favorite parts of the entire show...and Madonna wasn't even on stage!

4 - No Ghosttown?

I said in my review of Ghosttown that it was one of the biggest power ballads Madonna ever performed, as big as Live to Tell or Rain.  Though it was on the setlist, she skipped that one on Wednesday.  

5 - Encore Encore 

The last time Madge played the Garden, I had complained that she didn't even hit the stage until around 11 p.m.  This go around was much better, as the festivities began shortly around 9, a much more conducive hour, especially for a weeknight.  This night, however, it also seemed that the concert was made ever so much shorter as there was absolutely no build-up between the finish, Unapologetic Bitch (which to me was sort of anti-climactic, even when she brought out opening act Amy Shumer to the stage and officially dubbed her a member of Madge's gang), and the encore, Holiday.  It seemed that within a minute of finishing the former, the singer returned to the stage with her very first big single, an appropriate finish, but the whole thing was way too abrupt.   

So there, I think I do have some legitimate beefs with the Rebel Heart Tour, and this particular stop at MSG.  If any of you die-hard Madonna fans take offense to any of my suggestions, please don't.  I've been following Madonna since day one...her songs are a huge part of the soundtrack of my life since I was a teen.  It may not sound like it, but I did have an awesome time the other night.  I think I just could've had an even better one... 

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