While most of the eastern coast of the U.S. was suffering the cold of Winter Storm Jonas this weekend, Miami was feeling the heat of Madonna at the American Airlines Arena for her “Rebel Heart Tour.”
The 57-year-old singer proved that time has no effect on her as she put on a show that ran circles around performers 30 years younger. And yes, she puts on a show, not a concert: With four acts, huge set pieces and intricate costumes, Madonna’s two-and-a-half-hour performance was nothing less than a spectacle.
To a video introduction resembling the opening credits of an “American Horror Story” episode and featuring Mike Tyson, Madonna’s crew of dancers took the stage as knights. Shortly after, the queen of the night descended from the rafters in a cage and went straight into “Iconic.”
In her first set, which featured both Joan of Arc and Samurai elements, Madonna exhibited her musical skills by breaking out the electric guitar on “Burning Up.” She ripped it up on the instrument and was down on her knees right in front of the audience—which, rightly so, couldn’t get enough. Shortly after, scantily clad nuns took the stage for “Holy Water,” then started pole dancing. Toward the end of the number, Madonna climbed on top of one of the nuns and swung around the pole herself.
The stage literally turned into a “Body Shop,” complete with a front half of a car, miscellaneous auto parts and buff mechanics at the beginning of the second act. Madonna then got sentimental about Miami, saying that she loves the heat and sunshine and does not know why she doesn’t live there anymore. The singer then showed her instrumental skills again with an acoustic take of “True Blue” on her ukulele.
Straying from her pretty consistent set list, Madonna changed it up in the third act, performing a medley of “Dress You Up,” “Into the Groove” and “Lucky Star.” Then, she took an emotional turn and sang a powerful rendition of “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” from the movie that won her a Golden Globe, “Evita.” She said it was the first time she’s done that song on this tour and that she’s been waiting for the right city in which to perform it.
Madonna talked about her experience working with Andrew Lloyd Webber and the cast of “Evita,” as it was a crucial time in her life. That was when she first got pregnant, and taking on the role of Eva Perón really empowered her. She then proclaimed Perón a “Rebel Heart” and said that, like Perón, she’s not afraid to make a change and fight for what she believes in. The performance of “Rebel Heart” then commenced with the screens showing various images of Madonna throughout her provocative and daring career.
The final act of the night took the audience back to the 1920s as Madonna hit the stage as a flapper in a nightclub and one dancer came out as Charlie Chaplin’s character, The Little Tramp. Madonna covered both Edith Piaf’s “La Vie En Rose” and Marilyn Monroe’s “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend”—in which DJ Khalid made a guest appearance and brought her diamonds—as stripped-down versions before ending the show with “Unapologetic Bitch.”
At the end of the number, she exclaimed that she needed a “new bitch” and brought her daughter Mercy James onstage. James was celebrating her 10th birthday, and her mom made the entire audience sing her “Happy Birthday” before smashing a cupcake in her face. Madonna encored in a full-out rendition of “Holiday” with all of her backup dancers onstage and donning a patriotic outfit. The singer left the show by via wires, and flew up and out.
Throughout the night, Madonna kept playing to her fans. At one point, she asked why Miami was being so calm and told people to take off their clothes and throw them onstage. Unsurprisingly, the audience complied, and many men lost their shirts. She also threw a bouquet into the audience because she was a queen looking to marry a “queen.” Surprisingly for her, a woman caught it instead of a man, but she was happy because the woman could drive and cook for her.
People do not go to see Madonna to simply be entertained; people go to Madonna for an experience. And an experience is what she provided. This is the 10th tour in Madonna’s career, and I do not think it’s an exaggeration to say she is better than she’s ever been.
Joan of Arc/Samurai
Revolution (video introduction)
Bitch I’m Madonna
Holy Water (with Vogue sample)
Rockabilly Meets Tokyo
Messiah (video introduction)
True Blue (acoustic)
Deeper and Deeper
HeartBreakCity (with Love Don’t Live Here Anymore sample)
Like A Virgin (with Heartbeat sample)
S.E.X. (video introduction)
Living For Love
La Isla Bonia
Dress You Up/Into the Groove/Lucky Star
Who’s That Girl?
Don’t Cry For Me Argentina
Illuminati (video introduction)
Music (with Give It 2 Me sample)
La Vie En Rose (Edith Piaf cover)
Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend (Marilyn Monroe cover)
Photos by: Ron Elkman (ronelkman.com)
For more photos from Madonna’s Rebel Heart Tour, click here.
This article first appeared on Boca Magazine on January 25, 2016 and can be found here.