Madonna Brings Outrageous, Entertaining ‘Rebel Heart Tour’ To The Forum In Los Angeles: Live Review
Madonna’s Rebel Heart era has been a fiery car crash from the get-go. The album leaked weeks in advance, “Living For Love” bombed and Drake may (or may not) have shaded her at Coachella. It’s enough to burst a lesser diva’s bubble, but the Queen of Pop is made of stronger stuff. She rebounds effortlessly with an outrageous, expertly curated live show that defiantly stands behind her new material.
The Rebel Heart Tour rolled into Los Angeles last night (October 27) and reminded everyone at The Forum why Madonna is still selling out arenas while most of her contemporaries have set up shop in Las Vegas or retired. She has no time for nostalgia. The 57-year-old delves into her canon of hits on occasion, but they are mostly lumped into medleys (“Dress You Up,” “Into the Groove,” “Everybody” and “Lucky Star”) or brought up to date with inventive new arrangements (“True Blue” and “La Isla Bonita”). Instead, the focus is very much on album number thirteen.
The prospect of revisiting Rebel Heart didn’t exactly fill me with joy, but the new songs certainly spice up the setlist. The pop icon performed “Holy Water” while riding a nun on a crucifix-shaped stripper pole and belted out “Devil Pray” during a sexy reenactment of The Last Supper. If you think that’s outrageous, wait until you see the orgy-tastic “S.E.X.”/”Justify My Love” interlude! Who is going to push the envelope with such obvious relish if Madonna ever decides to abdicate the throne?
However, it’s not all shock tactics and soft porn. Rebel Heart dud “Body Shop” gets a cute Grease-inspired overhaul and “Iconic” sounds significantly better without the rap. The tour also showcases album highlights like “Bitch I’m Madonna,” “Unapologetic Bitch” (Katy Perry was plucked from the crowd during this winning performance) and the gorgeous title track. It ranks as the era’s best offering after “Ghosttown,” which was curiously absent.
Other highlights include a non-ironic rendition of “Like A Virgin,” ’90s classic “Deeper And Deeper” and the addition of “Like A Prayer” to the setlist. After watching last night’s show, I can’t help but wonder how Rebel Heart would have fared without the leaks and lingering stench of ageism. The album has its faults, but there’s a lot to enjoy and those tracks deserve to find an audience — and they will via this tour.