I remember several years ago when everybody who had anything to say gave their two cents worth about Lady Gaga’s impending concert. The religious, the hateful and the fans took to social media to get their messages across. I watched that show and was impressed at how immensely talented she was. I even brought my son with me. There were some racy and suggestive numbers which prompted me to send my son back to the lounge at the private box where we watched. Last week, the furor was again repeated with the arrival of no less than the Queen of Pop, Madonna. Manila was chosen as one of The Rebel Heart Tour’s 80 stops around the world. It kicked off September last year in Montreal.
Undoubtedly the most awaited concert (Tickets were sold out since last year), the fans could not contain their excitement as they entered the venue. From her last concert in Macau, three Boeing 747 planes carried lights, sound equipment and props to our city. The stage is really the first thing to catch your attention. An elongated cross with a heart attached to the tip and a rectangle stage with protruding balls at the end, it was an early forboding of what the show would be. That show would start almost three hours late – at 11:42 to be exact.
When Madonna finally came out from a cage suspended in the air, the whole Mall of Asia Arena exploded in shouts and cheers. Madge mostly sang songs from her newest album. I so loved when she did Rebel Heart. “Why can’t you be like the other girls? I said oh no, that’s not me. And I don’t think that it’ll ever be.” Flashes of the music icon rendered pop art style flashed on the giant screens showing her evolution through the years. It was a visual feast as well as well as a hefty serving of lyrics to awaken the soul. “So I took the road less travelled by. And I barely made it out alive. Through the darkness somehow I survived. Tough love I knew it from the start deep down in my rebel heart.”
Of course, she had to sing her old songs from the 80’s! The people asked for “Crazy for You” but she denied that request and sang other favorites instead. Reworked to sound more appealing to millenials, I wished she sang the songs in their original versions. Still Madonna’s performance of “Burning Up” while playing the electric guitar, literally set the stage on fire. Audience were treated to La Isla Bonita, Just Like A Prayer, True Blue, Material Girl and Music.
The costumes were fabulous! Japanese warrior , Spanish Senorita, Sparkle-clad 20’s girl and Rocker Goddess—all showed her well-taut physique. How in the world could this woman be pushing 60?! She had plenty of Asian dancers, aerialists who wowed the crowd from twenty foot poles and a moving stage that kept everybody at the edge of their seats. The audience lapped up the profanity and applauded all the perfectly choreographed numbers. She ended the first night singing “Holiday” while straddling a dancer as he carried her on his shoulders. And yes, she draped the Philippine flag around her body and waved it to the adoring fans.
The politics and religion I will leave to others to write about. Was it a show for kids? No it was not . “ Vogue” had the 12 disciples, Mother Mary and Jesus both on screen and on stage “posing”. Some will say that Madonna is nothing short of crass — irreverent and unapologetic. No one , however ,can deny that she is one of the most gifted women performers of our time . The concert was a brilliant two hour spectacle — nothing more , nothing less. Hail to her Madjesty, Madonna!