Madonna rebels and raises hell in Chicago

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Madonna at the United Center 09/28/2015

Madonna has been around for three decades, yet her live shows aren’t predictable (unless you’ve been reading the current rave reviews). Her latest outing with Rebel Heart is a two hour party with lots of stunning choreography, shimmering costumes, and flashy set pieces. Leaning heavily on material from her newest album, Madonna entered the stage from above in a cage and launched into “Iconic” as soon as she was set free. In a flowing black and red outfit and surrounded by armored guards, she snapped, locked, and twirled in tune with all her significantly younger dancers. After the hyperactive “Bitch, I’m Madonna,” she threw longtime fans a bone with an electric guitar rendition of “Burning Up.” Standing in the middle of the crowd on her cross shaped stage wielding a guitar made for a great photo op.

The singer was up to her old tricks regarding religion and sexuality during songs like “Holy Water,” which had scantily clad nuns twerking and twirling on stripper poles and “Devil Pray” where she rolled and gyrated on a table that was previously used for a sexy rendition of The Last Supper. Some say she was trying to be shocking, but fans knew it was nothing but classic Madonna and they ate up every second. During mellow sections where she belted out “Heartbreak City” mashed with “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore,” she traversed a spiral staircase, yet never missed a note. It was during these points where you could really hear how much she’s improved as a singer. Take that everyone who thought she was too nasally.

One of the songs that got the biggest response is the Erotica track “Deeper and Deeper,” which got everyone on their feet recreating the club vibe from the mediocre music video. After asking which bitches were in her crew (answer: everyone in the crowd) she got real with the crowd for “Rebel Heart” where she prompted everyone to sing with her. All throughout the show, the singer’s dry wit and somewhat cheesy humor was on as she teased the crowd with promises of an after party with drinks and food only to proclaim “NOT!”

Though she eschewed fan favorites like “Express Yourself” and “Like a Prayer” in favor of lackluster tracks from her new LP, she did sing her classics with a new flair. “Like a Virgin” presented one of the few times Madonna was on stage alone, bumping and grinding to its new reggae beat, while “La Isla Bonita” kept it’s original Latin flair, Madonna took the opportunity to apply the flamenco guitars and hard stomps for a medley of hits that included “Lucky Star” and “Into the Groove” that breathed new life into the songs. She performed “Who’s that Girl?” in similar fashion while she played an acoustic guitar. “True Blue” saw her playing a ukulele and “Material Girl” was done in a new jazzy style that both jaunty and a lot of fun.

But it wasn’t all about diva. During costumes changes the crowd got to see the finesse and grace of her many dancers. With styles ranging from parkour, salsa, hip-hop, and even ballet, the dancers were graceful and beautiful as their bodies twisted and turned with pre-recorded songs from Rebel Heart. There was even one routine which saw the dancers standing high atop flexible poles and proceeding to bend so far forward in the audience you were sure someone was going to fall. It was both breathtaking and cringe worthy. And as always, Madonna makes sure to get the best looking dancers for some delicious eye candy.

Yes, it was disappointing that she didn’t do more of her classics, but she performed the unconvincing tracks from the new album like “Body Shop” so well that by the time you left the stadium you had a new found love for the songs. By the end of the show you were halfway through putting in your order for the new LP, which is exactly what she wants. After declaring “Bye, Bitches!” only to come back for one encore of “Holiday,” the crowd filed out high on dance, sweat, and excitement to Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal.”

Madonna puts on a hell of a show, but doesn’t get the credit for it because of her age. This makes her work harder to prove why she’s the baddest bitch around. Whether you see it on Youtube or actually have tickets to see it in person, you have to see a Rebel Heart performance to truly experience it. There’s so much I’m forgetting to mention, but that’s just the result of a fucking good show.

Setlist:

Iconic

Bitch I’m Madonna

Burning Up

Holy Water (with “Vogue” snippet)

Devil Pray

Messiah (video interlude)

Body Shop

True Blue (acoustic)

Deeper and Deeper

HeartBreakCity (with “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” snippet)

Like a Virgin (with “Justify My Love” and “Heartbeat” samples)

S.E.X. (video interlude; with “Justify My Love” snippet)

Living for Love

La Isla Bonita

Dress You Up (with “Into the Groove” and “Lucky Star” snippets)

Who’s That Girl (acoustic)

Ghosttown (acoustic)

Rebel Heart

Illuminati (video interlude)

Music (with “Give It 2 Me” sample and “Chicago” snippet)

Candy Shop

Material Girl

La vie en rose (Édith Piaf cover)

Unapologetic Bitch

Encore:

Holiday

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