Lest you think that means that this was my first time seeing Madonna in concert, psssh posh! I first saw Madonna in NYC at Madison Square Garden during her Sticky & Sweet Tour in 2008 – Amazing show. Amazing! Then when her next concert came around, the MDNA Tour, in 2012, Larry & I were living out here in LA and caught her show at the Staples Center. Quite a spectacle, but I can’t say I liked it anywhere near as much as Sticky & Sweet. Far more anger and hostility in the show than I had expected and it left me feeling a little cold. Didn’t stop me from buying the Blu-Ray and CD of course, but still, I ended up hoping that the next tour would find her lightening up a little.
Well, someone answered my concerns, as DAMN: The Rebel Heart Tour was fucking amazing. I had bought our tickets back in March when Citibank’s cardmember presale started (yay for having Citibank!) and back when I did, I had hope but of course only time would tell. The Rebel Heart album came out and was enjoyable, but it was far from successful but it did have some fun songs that I responded to, especially ones like “Bitch I’m Madonna,” “Living For Love,” and “Unapologetic Bitch.” But would this tour focus on Rebel Heart to the extent that MDNA was focused on in the last tour, much to its detriment? Well, long story short: Madonna figured out just the right mix of old versus new. I loved it. She’s freakin glorious.
Okay, so I took 300+ pictures with my fabulous Nikon, most of them pretty decent. I’ll try to recap the concert experience along with the applicable photos and this post will probably be very long. 🙂
The Rebel Heart Tour at the Forum – October 27, 2015
Let’s do this. It’s broken down by events or songs below.
Getting to the Forum:
The Forum would not have been my first choice as a venue – it’s a pain in the ass to get to plus it’s very much in Inglewood. BUT! The Forum went under an extensive renovation recently and I gotta say that now that I’ve been there in modern times, it is a great venue. It’s big, but not as huge as the Staples Center and almost feels intimate. We also had really great seats. You’ll see later on below.. But anyway, here’s us getting there:
Inside and Getting Settled:
There was PLENTY of time to look around and see things. While the show does say it starts at 8pm, that’s false. Wildly false. Our experience with MDNA the last time informed us that Madonna may take up to 2.5 hours to come out. So we ended up arriving right around 7:45 and then got in line to get a program as well as some food, not worrying about being late. Guess what? She didn’t come out until 10:30. Lots of random pics to follow before the show starts!
The Celebrities Arrive
I couldn’t tell you who people were flocking to see but it was clear around 10:15pm that famous folks were arriving as you could see the people floor seats all seemingly bend towards whoever arrived next. It was kind of cool to see. I took some pictures of the mass of people and they look like you’d imagine it would if you picture the horde descending on the famous.
Let the Show Begin / Act I / “Iconic”
We all knew the real show was beginning when the opening DJ left and when Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Starting Somethin'” started playing really loud….and sure enough the Rebel Heart Tour began with a great video montage set to “Iconic” before Madonna descended from above!
“Bitch I’m Madonna”
The religious theme kinda paused a bit for a touch of Asian Samurai imagery to accompany this great song. It did seem that we were in for a heavy-handed bit of religious imagery much like how the MDNA tour started off…fortunately while this started off similarly, she had more fun during this Act and it ended up being more fun in the end.
The first of her old songs and quite a fucking spectacle – Madonna played the guitar while accompanied by tons of fire imagery and it was epic. I kind of forget about how good of a song this is but she reminded us and DAMN. I remember when she did “Borderline” in a similar rock fashion and her older songs definitely lend themselves to rocking the house down.
“Holy Water” / “Vogue”
“Holy Water” has the hilarious lyric, “Bitch, get off my pole!” It’s also the number that has the nuns on stripper poles, which has definitely been publicized. It’s a great number to see in person and Madonna still can dance unlike any other 57-year-old I can think of. She meshed this up with “Vogue” a little and while singing her famous celebrity lyric from that song, we were treated to flashes of religious figures while the Last Supper was recreated on stage. You know, harmless iconography! Still, a great performance.
One last part of this first Act (the religious one) was Madonna amongst provocative images. Wouldn’t be a Madonna concert without it!
I didn’t get to see much of this as at this point, the first (of many) people came down to the bottom of the stairs where we were sitting and blocked my view while I sat. Throughout the night this happened and eventually the management caught on to people trying to get better views they didn’t pay for and were sent back from whence they came. This first time though, I happily got up and asked them to move. I’m a bad ass. 😉
Act 2 Begins / “Body Shop”
The video and theming kind of went western for a bit with this, almost like the “Don’t Tell Me” video. It was a bit hot as it kind of involves hot mechanics.
This performance was one of the highlights for me. Madonna slowed things down a bit and played one of her classics while playing along with a ukulele. The entire crowd sang along and it was amazing. It is such a fun song.
“Deeper and Deeper”
A hot dance track from the Erotica album, it was a welcome uptempo change from the charming “True Blue.” I also love that song and the choreography for this number was very fun.
“HeartBreakCity” / “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore”
Things got melancholy now when a spiral staircase descended from above and Madonna and a dancer had a lot of nonverbal anger while she sang and paced up and down the stairs. “HeartBreakCity” is a good broken heart song from her latest album and I was impressed with how well it meshed with “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore.” I absolutely adore that latter song too.
“Like a Virgin”
To end this second Act, Madonna brought out her super classic, “Like A Virgin.” Last tour’s rendition of it was ridiculously over the top and she would break down into tears – which is like, c’mon. So here? She just straight struts around and sings the song, getting the audience into it. It was freakin’ amazing. Sometimes a straight up rendition of a classic is absolutely the right decision.
Interlude: “Justify My Love” / “S.E.X.”
Sometimes my attention wanders during the interludes. If there’s hot guys cavorting around, I’ll pay attention. Other times? Not so much. So here’s a picture of what happened.
Act 3 Begins: “Living For Love”
Madonna performed this in the style we’d seen before at the Grammys, with it being a bullfighter theme. It was gorgeous and the mix she used was wonderful – I’d love for it to get a release. It’s interesting how sometimes I vastly prefer the remixed version of a song and think that should have been the album version, but I don’t think everyone is a fan of dance beats. Ah well.
“La Isla Bonita”
It’s not a Madonna concert for me if she doesn’t sing “La Isla Bonita.” Maybe that’s why I really didn’t like the last concert! She brought the same upbeat Latin / Gypsy mood to it like she did in Sticky & Sweet and that is ALWAYS a plus.
“Dress You Up” / “Into The Groove” / “Lucky Star”
Ah, sweet sweet Madonna Oldies. She mashed these three together and it was glorious fun. She came out looking crazy goofy for the “Dress You Up” part and continued from there. She was probably having a blast and for sure the crowd was as these are super crowd-pleasers.
A Little Break / Chatting with the Crowd
This part of the concert was just so good. She just sat down and talked and laughed and enjoyed her time up there and shot the shit with us. Loved it.
A Bedtime Stories track! Who knew? I wonder if she’d ever perform “Bedtime Story” in concert? I wonder if she ever did? Anyway, “Secret” was the first single from that underrated album and it’s a good guitar song to perform. The crowd loved it too!
“Like A Prayer” (!!!)
We had met some new friends at Nicki’s birthday party and they had seen this concert back in DC – one of the complaints was that Madonna did NOT sing “Like a Prayer” and while I was disappointed, I figured I’d seen her perform it twice already so if that made room for “Material Girl,” I was okay. But surprise, surprise, Los Angeles was gifted this surprise as Madonna told us she felt like doing something special. And bam, we got this great song! Stripped down again like many of the songs in this Act, but still fabulous and still had the audience all singing along. Although I loved this performance, my favorite performance of this song is still from Sticky & Sweet. Damn, that was amazing.
“Rebel Heart” / End of Act
This whole act was just so much fun and it was almost laid back – most of the songs were performed low-key and lo-tech, in that mostly it was the band playing and Madonna singing along. Nothing really over the top and Madonna definitely being the most approachable she’s been in a long time. So after some more chatting with the audience in which she talked about her life and 32 years of being in the music business, she explained that how she’s lived her life is contained with this song, “Rebel Heart.” Another good performance and a nice way to close out this Act before heading into the concert’s last Act…
“Illuminati,” the song, grew on me after a few listens. It’s very funny. It’s also catchy. Anyway, while Madonna was taking a break, “Illuminati” played and was accompanied by some crazy Cirque du Soleil style theatrics, with some of her dancers bouncing around on these giant bendy/elastic-y poles over the audience. It was mesmerizing. Dancers also came out in tuxes, which was when Larry nudged me and was like, “you know what’s coming up next!” I thought he meant a Chippendales-type number, but what he meant was “Material Girl.” Same difference, but only one of us was right.
Final Act – Art Deco Overload / “Music” & “Candy Shop”
“Music” is still such a kick-ass song. Madonna started it off much more jazzy and stripped down and it was actually a cool way to do it. Of course, the bass line dropped in and then it became “Music” for reals. She then brought back some Hard Candy in the way of “Candy Shop” mixed in before finishing the number with “Music.” Loved it. The Art Deco video and styling were amazing and completely relevant for me and Larry as we’re leaning towards that as the theme of our wedding. We’re so in sync with Madonna. 🙂
“Material Girl” (Dream Fulfilled)
This song started my love of Madonna way back in 1985. When she was doing the “Re-Invention” tour back in 2005, I toyed with going but I didn’t want to go by myself. Then I found out from someone who I absolutely loathed who went to the show in Vegas that she sang this. The DVD that accompanied that tour only hinted at the performance so it killed me that I missed it. Madonna’s also been pretty clear that she didn’t like performing the song as it was interpreted all wrong. But she finally put it back in rotation! I may have had to wait through “Sticky & Sweet” and “MDNA”, but here we are and when I heard the oh-so-familiar guitar licks that kicks off “Material Girl,” I may have screamed and jumped just a little. Just a little. This could have been the finale for all I cared, but happily she kept going.
“La Vie en Rose”
Madonna slowed it down yet again and sang a ukulele-led version of “La Vie en Rose.” It was nice.
I didn’t realize this was going to be the final song until at the end there was a video card saying good night! It wasn’t the balls-to-the-wall ending she has done in the past, such as when she did “Give It To Me” during “Sticky & Sweet”, which was unbelievable, or “Celebration” at “MDNA”, which was good. It was very entertaining though as she brought up a member of the audience, which happened to be very full of celebrities (I’ve learned from a coworker who was also there but sitting on floor-level that we were sitting above Beyonce, Jay-Z, and Kathy Griffin, to name a few), and she brought up no less than Katy Perry. Katy was a very willing participant and it was pretty damn fun.
So yeah, Madonna likes to leave things on a powerful note, so after a few minutes of darkness, the lights came back on and the Art Deco was back for a bit before getting overwhelmed by the sheer pop goodness of “Holiday” and flags from around the world and Madonna just having a blast before getting lifted into the air and disappeared into the stars. Magical!
And that was the show! My feelings after it were pure joy and happiness as it was such a marked difference in tone than the MDNA show and it was all the better for it. Madonna was having fun and singing a great mix of old and new songs and the audience was loving every minute of it. I’m intrigued by what happens the next time around – she’ll likely have reached 60 years old by then. It’s kind of shocking to think of that!
Oh, here’s the Wikipedia entry for the tour too, if you want some more facts and such around the show.