L.A. Weekly posted an article about the 10 best female solo Super Bowl performances and of course my girl Madonna ranks very high on the list, at #2 (behind Beyonce, which I’ll allow). This performance is so much fun:
I even don’t mind “Gimme All Your Luvin'” at this point as it is a very catchy song, but the MDNA album is still such a misfire in my mind. So much potential. This Super Bowl performance is a blast, and outdoes the entirety of the MDNA concert tour too.
It is a REALLY good concert, and now if you have Showtime, you can see it for yourself. I’ll of course be recording it. Here’s a trailer for the concert film premiering tomorrow, and it’s a blast in and of itself!
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:
Heading to the Forum from our parking spot
The Forum is back!
Ready for Madonna
Inside and Getting Settled:
Inside and ready for our 2 hour wait until the show began
We were pretty damn close
Those seats there are really expensive
Panoramic view from our seats
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!
View from the entry level
Looking down to our seat
Perspective of where we were sitting
Time to get the stage ready
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.
Apparently the celebrities started arriving
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!
Let It Begin!
Giant video screens and “Iconic” started us off
Madonna makes her entrance 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.
Next up was “Bitch I’m Madonna”
Accompanied by Asian fan imagery
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.
Madonna then rocked us with an awesome “Burning Up”
“Burning Up” was a stunning oldie to bring back and amazing
Obviously lots of fire imagery
“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.
Madonna then brought out the Sexy Nuns for “Holy Water”
Bitch, get off my pole
When the Last Supper arrived, so did “Vogue”
One last part of this first Act (the religious one) was Madonna amongst provocative images. Wouldn’t be a Madonna concert without it!
“Devil Pray” brought out some more religious imagery
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.
The sexy but sincere “Body Shop” started off the next Act of the show
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.
“True Blue” was pretty magical with her playing it with her ukulele
The entire crowd was singing along
“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.
The dancing came back in force with “Deeper and Deeper”
There was a lot of great dance sequences in this part
“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.
Madonna slowed it down with the melancholy “HeartBreakCity”
She mixed it up with “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore”
Those two songs make for a good pairing
“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.
Then she ended the act with a fun and energetic “Like a Virgin”
Unlike MDNA’s over the top version of it, tonight’s was so basic but just plain fun
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.
Madonna re-emerged in her bullfighter drag for “Living For Love”
It was a great remix of “Living For Love”
Lots of red
“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.
After “Living for Love”, it was time for “La Isla Bonita”!
I love when Madonna performs this song, as it’s always so energetic
Very reminiscent of Sticky & Sweet’s version
“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.
Madonna briefly disappeared…
…and reappeared all funky for “Dress You Up”
which also mashed up with “Into the Groove”
and “Lucky Star” – that was a powerhouse Old School mashup
and the video panels were mesmerizing and colorful
Best of all, Madonna was having a blast
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.
Madonna then took a bit of a break and talked with the audience
She was having a blast
Madonna then had a challenge to her dancers to catch those maracas
It’s blurry, but the dancers caught them
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!
Then she sang “Secret” which is very good even now
“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.
A Los Angeles treat: Madonna sang “Like A Prayer” which isn’t normally on the setlist
“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…
After some more conversation, it was time for “Rebel Heart” to close out this 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.
This interlude was freakin’ cool and very Cirque du Soleil
Some cool acrobatic manuevers on these bendy poles set to “Illuminati”
The gents coming out in tuxes clued Larry in to what might be coming
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. 🙂
The last Act was all Art Deco and Gatsby
And Madonna started it off with a great jazzy take on “Music”
She also mixed in “Candy Shop”
and we even got some All That Jazz stylings
The opulent video screens were gorgeous
“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.
And then….”Material Girl”
1984-Hobie was in heaven
She once said she’d never perform this again
“La Vie en Rose”
Madonna slowed it down yet again and sang a ukulele-led version of “La Vie en Rose.” It was nice.
After that amazing number, she slowed down again to sing “La Vie en Rose”
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.
And then finished the night off with “Unapologetic Bitch”
She brought up a surprise local guest, Katy Perry
Katy Perry was game for it all
including a spanking
Madonna was kind enough to thank Katy for her help
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!
We got an encore of course – “Holiday”
And away she went, for reals this time
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!
What a fantastic show the Rebel Heart Tour ended up being!
So this weekend was pretty fun as Mom’s birthday was on Saturday night and we took her to Benihana’s! Â Needless to say, I probably ate more than I should have, but it was totally worth it. Â Double fried rice is never a bad thing. Â So happy birthday, Mom!!! Â We love you!
On Friday night, a great big group of us ol’ NBC folks, past and present obviously, got together and celebrated Nicki & Carey’s 29th birthdays. Â Carey is pictured above in the middle while I didn’t get any pictures of Nicki, seemingly. Â Hmmm. Â Possibly because I drank quite a healthy amount?
Tomorrow is finally the day! Â It doesn’t seem like forever ago when I bought the tickets, but apparently it was! Â Tomorrow night (a school night!) we’ll be headed to the Forum for some fun and what looks to be my chance to FINALLY hear Madonna sing “Material Girl” in concert!!!! FINALLY!
I’ve been addicted to this videogame,Â Sleeping Dogs, for the last two weeks or so. Â It’s effectively a Grand Theft Auto for the Hong Kong area and the Chinese Triad, so while it sounds derivative, it helps that the game does it very well and is ridiculously entertaining. Â Also, I recently updated my graphics card and the visuals are just amazing. Â Anyway, I need to wrap this game up as two biggies are on their way,Â Fallout 4 andÂ Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate.
Finally, Larry & I just created a new website that will be grand central station for any and all wedding information for the amazing day coming in April 2016. Â It’s creatively titled www.hobieandlarry.com and it is not in it’s final form just yet, but we’ve at least got the site up and running. Â Can you believe that domain wasn’t taken? Â Much appreciation goes towards FatCow.com, my web host, for having a nearly effortless set of tools to buy the domain and then install WordPress on it. Â Super easy. Â Soon enough now, you should be able to see the piece of art that Larry is creating for our Save the Date cards. Â It’s awesome.
Howard Stern interviewed Madonna on his show and the interview is FASCINATING. Â They are two very strong people and so he (and Robin) aren’t at all afraid to ask her hard questions. Â She’s just as strong and isn’t afraid to answer questions. Â I just love it.
She’s amazing, as is Howard. Â And I’ve been listening to the entirety of Rebel Heart more and more and it keeps getting better and better. Â I think I still like the first half of the album more at this point, but I mocked “Holy Water” in a previous post and damn I’m finding I really love it too. Â There’s a line from it that cracks me the hell up…”Bitch, get off my pole”….how awesome is that. Â Like I said, I will get into the album a bit more in depth in some time. Â It’s just great to enjoy though.
And oh yeah: Â I got my mothafuckin’ tickets today to Madonna’s show at the Forum in October!!!!! Â I can not wait!!!! Â Thanks Citibank for the pre-sale awesomeness!