Today in Madonna History: September 21, 2015

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On September 21 2o15, Sal Cinquemani (of Slant) published an article called, “10 Things I Learned at Madonna’s Rebel Heart Tour.”

Here’s Sal’s list:

Over 30 years into her career, Madonna is still acting like a virgin. “I’ve never performed in Brooklyn before,” she coyly told a sold-out crowd at the Barclays Center in Prospect Heights Saturday night. The Rebel Heart Tour, which kicked off in Montreal two weeks ago and landed in the borough for one night after two performances across the river at Madison Square Garden, is the singer’s 10th stage show. While she’s finally warmed up to her ’80s hits after years of ignoring all but a handful, she still insists on challenging her fans, who, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised to see, are still dressing up like her. Only now it’s the men. Here are 10 other things I learned at the show:

1. Yes, Madonna can sing.

As her shows have increasingly required her to be hoisted, flung, and swung around in the air for close to two hours every night, Madonna has in recent years relied, perhaps too heavily, on lip-synching. But she can carry a tune far better than she’s typically given credit for. Despite a mouthful of those pesky gold-and-diamond-encrusted grillz, she flawlessly serenaded old pal Debi Mazar, who stood in the audience singing along, with “True Blue,” and delivered an impassioned rendition of the blistering Rebel Heart ballad “HeartBreakCity.” Perched on the edge of a stage platform, playfully swinging her leg, she even belted out “La Vie En Rose” with relative ease.

2. Fifty-seven is the new 27.

At one point, Madonna dabbed her forehead with a towel and joked that sitting down to strum a ukulele was her favorite part of the show, but she barely missed a beat or broke a sweat throughout the 21-song setlist. With her dirty-blond extensions cascading around her shoulders, dark roots exposed, fingerless gloves, and jewel-encrusted blazer and ankle boots, she was the spitting image of the title character from Desperately Seeking Susan, in which she made her big-screen debut an astonishing three decades ago.

3. “Deeper and Deeper” belongs among Madonna’s classics.

With a catalogue as deep and wide as Madonna’s, it would be easy for gems like Erotica’s “Deeper and Deeper” to get lost to pop history. So it was a pleasant surprise to spot this one on the setlist and, aside from some amped-up EDM beats and a simplified flamenco guitar solo, hear it performed so faithfully.

4. Being Madonna (and working for her) is dangerous business.

As they say in Texas, everything is bigger on a Madonna tour…including the liability and personal injury insurance policy. Coverage must include, but isn’t limited to, performers being thrown off spiral staircases and tossed down giant LED screens, scaling and hanging precariously from poles, swinging back and forth from 10-foot stilts, and wearing capes with a recent history of violently yanking superstars to the ground from behind in front of an audience of millions.

5. Madonna really likes “Candy Shop.”

Though the Hard Candy opener was never released as a single, Madonna has a peculiar fondness for the track, having performed it during all of her last three tours. The singer’s tenacity and obvious enthusiasm for the song has practically willed it into becoming a staple, fitting inconspicuously between her signature hits “Music” and “Material Girl.”

6. Madonna really hates “Take a Bow.”

Madge dusted off her ’80s hits “True Blue” and “Who’s That Girl” for the first time in 28 years. But some of her biggest ’90s ballads, from “This Used to Be My Playground” to “I’ll Remember” to “Take a Bow” (her longest running #1 hit ever), have still, to this day, never been performed on tour. Sure, they don’t fit obviously into the pop star’s latter-day dance-floor-driven output, but if the queen of reinvention isn’t willing to find a way to put a new spin on these old chestnuts, there must be a good reason. With songs as timeless as these, it’s just hard to imagine what that could possibly be.

7. You’re never too old to take a “Holiday.”

The only song to be performed during all or part of every Madonna tour aside from one, “Holiday” reclaimed its rightful place as the closing number during the Rebel Heart Tour. Over the years, Madonna’s first bona fide smash has been reimagined as everything from a disco bauble to an ironic military march to an EDM banger, but while a Latin-style medley of “Dress You Up,” “Into the Groove,” and “Lucky Star” proves she isn’t exactly becoming a purist, she refreshingly played it straight for her perennial call for a little celebration.

8. Madonna is more comfortable on stage than ever.

Madonna is a self-proclaimed showgirl, but despite a show clearly choreographed down to each flick of a wrist, she’s never seemed more unscripted. From the call-and-response exchanges with the audience during an acoustic version of “Who’s That Girl” to the addition of a new song to the setlist (a stirring, if pitchy, rendition of shoulda-been-a-sleeper-hit “Ghosttown,” which brought seemingly genuine tears to her eyes, a development that seemed to surprise even her), the Queen of Pop never looked so unguarded and at ease.

9. Madonna might be running out of ideas.

You’d be forgiven for thinking Madonna had already staged a show with scantily clad nuns twerking on cross-shaped stripper poles. From that perhaps too on-the-nose provocation to the multimedia prologue and guitar-wielding riot-grrrl shtick, Madonna seems to be recycling themes and concepts in ways that, while her contemporaries remained dogged in their adherence to formula, she managed to successfully avoid for the first few decades of her career.

10. …But she’s still the greatest performer of our time.

“It’s lonely at the top, but it ain’t crowded,” Madonna quipped, tongue in cheek, during a jazz-infused version of “Music.” As far back as 1990’s iconic, game-changing Blond Ambition Tour, her shows have always been theatrical, blending traditional rock-concert tropes with narrative storytelling; Rebel Heart, though, takes it to another level, equal parts Cirque du Soleil, Broadway musical, and burlesque—an immersive experience that redefines the meaning of maximalism.

Today in Madonna History: September 16, 2017

On September 15 2017, Madonna spoke to Mark Savage (BBC) about how after a career of huge production shows, she’s thinking about a smaller scale residency style show in the future.

“I’ve done so many shows – world tours, stadiums, sports arenas, you name it – that I feel like I have to reinvent that now too. I like doing intimate shows and being able to talk directly to the audience. This is something I’m exploring right now: the idea of doing a show that doesn’t travel the world, but stays in one place and utilizes not only humour and the music in a more intimate setting but other people’s music, as well, and other entertainment. Kind of a revolving door of amazing, gifted, unique talent – dancers, musicians, singers, comedians, me, humour. I don’t know! Like, I’m trying to come up with all those ideas now.”

Here’s part of their interview:

Before we start, there’s one thing I need to know: Did your FedEx package ever arrive?

Ha ha! Yes, it has. FedEx is blaming customs, customs is blaming FedEx and we’ll never know what happened. But I have it now.

So, I saw the Rebel Heart tour when you were in London and the DVD does a really good job of capturing what it was like to be in the audience. How do you go about that?

I was there every step of the way, every day for months and months. It’s really hard to capture the true feeling of the excitement and the passion and the heat and the blood, sweat and tears. I’m pleased with the way it came out.

There’s a particularly touching sequence during True Blue, where everybody in the audience embraces each other.

I know, it’s a very sweet, emotional moment in the show. I didn’t expect it to be, but when I look back at the DVD it almost brings a tear to my eye because everyone seems so in love.

How do you put a show like this together? Where do you get the ideas?

Everything’s based around my song choice. So first, I go through my catalogue of songs with my band and I start working on things that excite me and inspire me in the moment. Some songs I’m sick of doing and I don’t want to do them. Other songs I say, “No, I did that on the last tour, I don’t want to do it again.”

So I try to rotate things and I also try to reflect my current mood and what I’ve been feeling, and what’s been inspiring me artistically or filmically, politically, philosophically. I try to put songs together in groups that have thematic connection, and then I try to tell a story. And then I do the visuals. It’s quite a process.

What are the songs you don’t want to do again?

Well, I tend to not want to do the songs I did on the tour before. That’s what I mean. So if I did Material Girl on the tour before, or Express Yourself on the tour before, then I’ll say, “OK, I did that for 88 shows. I can’t do it again.”

How do you keep a healthy balance between new songs and your back catalogue?

It’s just playing in rehearsal. It’s really hard for me, especially with my older songs, to do them with the original arrangement. Because 33 years later, after doing it for so long, you just have to reinvent things. Well, I do.

And it’s fun for me to take an ’80s pop song and turn it into a salsa song, or turn it into a samba, or make an uptempo song into a ballad.

The DVD also includes the Tears of a Clown show you did in Melbourne. Was that a one-off or a trial run for a different type of Madonna concert?

I like doing intimate shows and being able to talk directly to the audience; to play with them and use humour and pathos and truth, and share my life – and also make up stories. I like the freedom of it and I like the intimacy of it, and I would like to explore doing it more in the future.

Maybe a residency?

Yeah, a residency. If I look back at the Rebel Heart tour, my favourite part was really the last section where I got to just sit on the stage and play my ukulele and sing La Vie en Rose and talk to the audience. [It was] just more intimate. More audience participation and connecting to human beings – I feel I’m craving that more and more.

Did it feel like there was more room for improvisation in that section?

Yeah, I have freedom and I can make mistakes. That’s another thing I do in Tears of a Clown – if I start a song off wrong and I make a boo-boo, I just turn around and go “Stop! Let’s start again!”

When you’re doing a sports arena show, you’re linked up to video, you can’t stop. Once the train leaves the station, you have to keep going.

There’s a certain kind of adrenalin rush to that – but there’s no room for error. So I like the idea of mistakes and free-styling. Free-falling, really. It’s more exciting to me right now.

You can read the full interview here.

Today in Madonna History: September 15, 2017

On September 15 2017, Madonna’s Rebel Heart Tour was released on DVD, blu-ray and double-CD.

Here is the official press release:

Madonna today released her long-awaited REBEL HEART TOUR concert film on a variety of formats. REBEL HEART TOUR was recorded around the world and features both live and behind the scenes material, as well as previously unreleased footage culminating with performances at the Sydney Qudos Bank Arena (formerly known as the Allphones Arena) in Australia in March of 2016.

REBEL HEART TOUR is nearly two hours long and features Madonna’s most recent hits from the Rebel Heart album, and some of the biggest classics of her career including stunning reinterpretations of old favourites, which were unique to the tour. Bonus features on the DVD, blu-ray and iTunes version are Like A Prayer and ‘An Excerpt From Tears Of A Clown’ – incredibly rare footage of Madonna’s one-off Melbourne theatre show, which was completely different to the Rebel Heart shows in both scale, content and production. Featuring music, art and mischief, the exclusive fan club show was a celebration of Madonna’s return to Australia after 23 years.

Eagle Vision are releasing the film on DVD and blu-ray (both with an exclusive 14-track highlights CD) and digital download. Also released is a 22-track double CD, which is also available on all digital music services. In addition to the physicaland digital formats, madonna.com have exclusive fan merchandise bundles.

MADONNA: REBEL HEART TOUR was co-directed by Danny B. Tull and Nathan Rissman, both of whom have worked extensively with Madonna on her feature films and tour movies.

The tracklist for MADONNA: REBEL HEART TOUR film and live concert album span all decades of the iconic superstar’s illustrious career, including songs from her chart-topping Rebel Heart album to classic fan favorites.

Produced by Live Nation Global Touring, the Rebel Heart Tour kicked off on September 9, 2015 in Montreal and visited arenas in 55 cities on four continents over seven months. Madonna performed 82 shows, plus the special Tears Of A Clown fan club show in Melbourne.

Today in Madonna History: June 21, 2015

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On June 21 2015, Madonna and Live Nation announced that Madonna’s Rebel Heart Tour would take Madonna to Australia for the first time in two decades, and her first time ever in New Zealand.

Live Nation Australia and New Zealand:

Madonna will make a historic return to Australia performing live for the first time in 23 years as well as her first ever shows in New Zealand, with her Rebel Heart Tour.

The tour will kick off at Vector Arena on March 5th and 6th in Auckland, followed by the Australian dates presented by Telstra Thanks and including concerts on March 12th & 13th in Melbourne, March 19th & 20th in Sydney and March 26th & 27th in Brisbane.

Tickets and VIP Packages go on sale Monday, July 6th at 10am.

Tour dates:

Vector Arena, Auckland – March 5th
Vector Arena, Auckland – March 6th
Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne – March 12th
Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne – March 13th
Allphones Arena, Sydney – March 19th
Allphones Arena, Sydney – March 20th
Entertainment Centre, Brisbane – March 26th
Entertainment Centre, Brisbane – March 27th

Today in Madonna History: March 10, 2016

On March 10 2016, Madonna performed the first Tears Of A Clown show at the Forum Theatre in Melbourne, Australia. Since Madonna had not performed in Australia since 1993, she decided to put on a unique show for her Australian fans. The show included some of her lesser performed songs, covers, hits and some fan favourites that were not being performed during the Rebel Heart Tour (which was going on a the same time as the Tears Of A Clown show).

Madonna wanted the show to combine music, comedy and storytelling, with a circus or clown theme in mind.

Only members of Madonna’s official fan club, Icon, were able to acquire tickets.  1500 fans attended the show.

Madonna performed the following songs:

  • Send In The Clowns
  • Drowned World/Substitute For Love
  • X-Static Process
  • Between The Bars (Elliot Smith cover)
  • Nobody’s Perfect
  • Easy Ride
  • Intervention
  • I’m So Stupid
  • Paradise (Not For Me)
  • Joan Of Arc
  • Don’t Tell Me
  • Mer Girl
  • Borderline
  • Take A Bow
  • Holiday

Cameron Adams (News.com.au) had this to say about the show:

“Madonna poured much of her sadness into her intimate two-hour Tears Of A Clown show, peppering emotional renditions of her hits with cheeky jokes and banter. It’s the sort of thing you never thought you’d see a superstar do. The show was fascinating — and difficult — to watch. We’re not used to Madonna on stage doing anything less than a fully rehearsed, slick stage show.”

Today in Madonna History: October 28, 2015

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On October 28 2015, Katy Perry was the Unapologetic Bitch during the Los Angeles Rebel Heart Tour stop. Instead of giving Perry a standard banana, Madonna treated her to a banana flask filled with an alcoholic drink.

Later on Instagram, Madonna declared Katy to be the “Best Unapologetic bitch ever!”

Katy shared her videos of the experience on Instagram saying, “Well, that was unrehearsed but I Love You Madonna my QUEEN.”

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Today in Madonna History: October 6, 2015

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On October 6 2015, Madonna had an amazing time on stage with Daniel, her honorary Unapologetic Bitch, during the Rebel Heart Tour stop in Toronto, Canada.

I couldn’t help but share some adorable screen caps of Daniel on stage with Madonna — Enjoy! – Jay

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