Had it been any other artist, Filipinos would not have waited almost three hours in good cheer. But because it was Madonna, the Queen of Pop, those who eagerly trooped to the Mall of Asia Arena on the night of February 24 waited without complaining.
Finally, at 10:45 p.m., “Her Madgesty” decided it was time to indulge her loyal subjects. And all at once, the famed Rebel Heart stage–a catwalk in a hybrid of a cross, an arrow and a heart that almost ran the entire length of the MoA court–came alive with dazzling lights, heart-pounding beats, an astounding ensemble of dancers, and the Queen of Pop in all her glory.
Even if she did away with the immensely dramatic entrance of descending center stage in a cage of samurais, Madonna was every bit the royalty the music world had crowned her to be. For just like real royalty, the 57-year-old American singer captivated and lorded it over her audience.
The crowd got up to dance along to Madonna’s most classic hits, but for the most part, the entire arena just watched her perform.
To top it off, every “sinful” act possible to do on stage, Madonna committed. From stripping down to a-barely-there nun’s outfit and pole dancing to butt slapping, heavy gyrating and an explicitly choreographed girl-on-boy, boy-on-girl, and boy-on-boy “bed scene” by the ensemble; to having a shot of tequila, almost lighting a cigarette (not that she smokes), and endless cursing and swearing, Madonna did them all.
She only allowed two types of response from the audience whenever she asked a question. It was either “Fu*k yeah!” or “Fu*k no!” explaining that she always feels the need to curse when looking for inspiration.
All the cursing aside, the audience was awed by the sheer artistry of the Rebel Heart concert, and ultimately, the genius that has made Madonna transcend genres and generations since hitting the music scene in the 1980s. She is all at once the Queen of Pop, of reinvention, of passion, of stamina, and of determination.
The eye-popping show justified the sky-high ticket prices. VIP tickets sold for a staggering P57,750, and general admission seats still considerably pricey at P3,150.
The immensely elaborate set designed and ultra-high tech audio equipment that were reportedly flown into Manila in three batches by Boeing jets from Rebel Heart’s previous stop in Macau were show stoppers within themselves. Imagine a giant LED screen—besides an even bigger one for a backdrop—that tilts up and down from the floor to serve as stage that follows Madonna and her dancers’ every move with blinding lights. There is also a descending spiral staircase, sky-high poles rising from the surface, and part of a car that suddenly come up on stage throughout the show.
Her four themed acts too—“Joan of Arc/Samurai,” “Rockabilly meets Tokyo,” “Latin/Gypsy,” and “Party/Flapper” gave Filipinos the kind of balance they look for in any foreign artist’s concert in these shores—a good mix of the singer’s newest hits, with a generous serving of his or her classics. As such Madonna more than satisfied her fans with tracks from her Rebel Heart album with “Iconic,” “B*tch, I’m Madonna,” “Body Shop,” and “Living for Love,” while making sure to include her greatest hits like “Burning Up,” “Vogue,” “Deeper and Deeper,” “Like a Virgin,” “La Isla Bonita,” “Take a Bow,” and “Material Girl” in every suite.
She also brought the arena to a hush when she sang a wonderful arrangement of “True Blue” as she played a ukulele, following it on with the French classic, “La Vie En Rose.”
And oh boy, did Madonna–who had a total of five equally elaborate costume changes–talk to her Filipino fans. She chatted about believing in love no matter how jaded she was, how she had just a “little bit” of cellulite on her still very firm legs with age. She even said a little something about Manila traffic.
“I don’t get to go to this part of the world much often,” Madonna began. “So I don’t have the opportunity to say thank you, and to show you my gratitude and appreciation for your support for all these years, for over 30 years. It’s pretty amazing if you think about it. Just a minute is amazing so imagine 32 years of being able to do what I love, to make a living to do what I love, to share what I love, with people around the world. I love you all so much. If you are a rebel heart, just pretend I’m holding you already, that I’m holding you close to my heart.”
The Madonna Rebel Heart Tour, which was presented by Globe Telecom together with major sponsor Huawei and produced by MMI Live, had its second and final night on Thursday at the Mall of Asia.