Here's a mess "review" of the show for Philadelphia. It's amazing what can be published nowadays:
Two-thirds of the way through her concert Thursday at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center, Madonna introduced the title track to her new album “Rebel Heart” by thanking her audience.
“You have allowed me to be provocative, experimental … and hopefully lovable,” she said. “And to be the rebel heart that I am.”
And certainly Madonna hasn’t made it this far into her career – more than 30 years and 65 million albums sold – by being static.
Trouble is, Madonna’s “experimentation” has often resulted in the weakest music of her career, and her provocation has often been without a point, making it, well, pointless. That’s even more true now – being a provocateur at 57 can sometimes seem like desperation.
So while much of Madonna’s 21-song show (with snippets of seven others and parts of four more played over the speakers during interludes when she left the stage) was unquestionably entertaining on some level, it wasn’t always the best music.
Instead, the show’s best points were when Madonna simply sang – even better when she sang simply.
The show also was weighted heavily to Madonna’s new disc, with 10 of the songs from that disc, including five of the first six.
That gave the show a decidedly slow start, despite it being by far the most theatrical part of the night. It opened with the new “Iconic,” with 14 ancient-Egyptian-looking dancers on stage as Madonna was lowered in a cage.
Even “Bitch, I’m Madonna,” with duet partner Nicki Minaj rapping on the big screen, failed to grab the listener. And the one old song she played early, “Burning Up,” didn’t have the heat the title implies.
The next half-hour of the show had Madonna targeting Catholicism, as six dancers wearing nuns wimples used crosses as stripper poles during “Holy Water” and Madonna climbed a cross as the song segued into a snippet of “Vogue,” then writhed atop the “Last Supper” table chanting the “Holy Cross” lyric “Yeezus loves my p---y best!” on the following “Devil Pray,” she writhed at the feet of a seated “priest.”
It all came off as bad theater, and if there was a desperation moment in the night, that seemed to be it. Organized Christianity is a very cliched target, and Madonna’s has (ab)used its imagery since 1989’s “Like a Prayer” – which surprisingly, given the religious overtones, she didn’t sing.
But Madonna is nothing if not opportunistic, and she spent a good deal of the night talking about Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia this weekend.
She said it seemed the Pope was stalking her – visiting New York a day after she was there and following her to Philadelphia. “He’s a copycat, right? Or he’s secretly in love with me.”
After climbing atop a table to dance energetically on a better number, “Music,” she said, “I made it. Can the pope do that?” She then dedicated the second half of the song, with a snippet of “Give It 2 Me,” to him.
Before a French-language version of “La Vie En Rose,” she said she had been excommunicated from the Catholic church three times. “I’d like a big round of applause for that; I’m very proud of that,” she said. “It shows that the Vatican cares.
“ And since the Pope – Popey-wopey -- is on his way over here, bless him, I want to dedicate this song to him. … Honestly, I don’t think there’s that much difference between me and the Pope. We both wear dresses. I’ll stop right there.”
And after a slow and theatrical version of another better song, “Material Girl,” she did a wedding march and tossed her bouquet to a gay male couple, she said, “Rules are for fools. That’s why I like the new Pope – he seems very open-minded. “
But the concert was immeasurably better when Madonna simply sang. “Body Shop” from her new disc, sung amid a full stage garage, including the front of a car -- was slow, yet far more intersting and fun. The following “True Blue,” largely acoustic, also was good. And she also seemed to really sing on the new “Heartbreak City,” which included a snippet of “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore.”
Her big hits were even better, even though she slowed “Like a Virgin” to a Caribbean lilt, taking some of the fun out of it, and added snippets of “Justify My Love” and “Heartbeat.” She also danced her most energetically – something in short supply on the night – and even twerked.
“Dress You Up” was rearranged as a Flamenco/Salsa number – also with snippets, of “Into The Groove” and “Lucky Star,” and the fact that her voice went off key just proved she was singing live. (Whether that was the case all night was unclear: on her hit “Music,” her voice continued as she danced with the mic at her side.)
And even when she did do a hit as a big production -- “La Isla Bonita,” with more than a dozen dancers in traditional Mexican garb – it made sense.
But the show skipped an awful lot of Madonna’s hits. She didn’t do “Borderline,” “Crazy for You,” “Live to Tell” “Open Your Heart” or “Cherish.” And despite her interest in religion, she also left out “Papa Don’t Preach.”
She also took an inordinate amount of time off stage – a total of 15 minutes, or one-seventh of the show -- to change costumes, filling the time with her dancers suggestively romping in bed to “S.E.X.” or swinging atop 10-feet-tall poles to “Illuminati.”
She saved the best of the new for late in the show, doing “Ghosttown” as a “request” (a bit of an untruth, it’s been on the set list since the tour started) with just her and guitar. And on the title track of “Rebel Heart,” she really sang.
She closed the main set with the new “Unapologetic Bitch,” bringing an audience member, “Stefan,” on stage to dance and get banana for his efforts before telling the crowd, “Goodbye, my bitches.”
Then she returned for a six-minute encore of her first charting single, “Holiday.” On it, she and the dancers simply filled the stage with an energetic performance.
No experimentation or provocation was needed to make it good.
This reporter seems to be bipolar lol