SINGAPORE — It has been a long time coming, and for many here, Madonna’s debut Singapore concert at the National Stadium on Feb 28 is akin to lightning in a bottle. You know, the kind of show you won’t get to see again; not that we’re saying this is possibly the Queen Of Pop’s final tour.
Still, there are those who are asking: Is it a show worth watching? The answer, of course, is yes. Fact is, her Rebel Heart Tour has already proven rather successful: At the end of 2015, it earned a No 11 spot on Pollstar’s 2015 Year-End Top 100 Worldwide Tours list, after grossing US$88.4 million (S$127 million) from 49 shows with a total attendance of 693,061. (And to paraphrase that Elvis album, 693,061 fans can’t be wrong.)
But we understand if you need a bit more convincing, so here are a few key reasons why the show is a must-watch.
SHE’S IN SINGAPORE FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME
Madonna is the most successful female artiste of all-time with more than 300 million records sold worldwide, and she has scored 57 Billboard hits, which include 38 Top 10s. She is also the all-time top touring female artiste, with 10 world tours grossing more than US$1 billion to date. Yet, in a stellar career that spans 34 years, her Feb 28 date in Singapore marks the pop icon’s first performance here. And not because The Girlie Show was banned in 1993, but the Rebel Heart Tour is arguably the sultry provocateur’s least controversial tour to date. Still, that does not guarantee she will make a return trip any time soon.
a VISUAL SPECTACLE
To say that every Madonna concert is a spectacle is to generalise what is, in fact, a pulsating pop concert jam-packed with trend-setting theatrics — take her iconic Blond Ambition Tour from the 1990s, with its Metropolis-influenced sets, corsets designed by Jean Paul Gautier and use of headset microphones. From evolving sets to riveting video backdrops, enthralling choreography to glitzy costumes, a Madonna concert is almost always sheer entertainment and never short of surprises. The Rebel Heart Tour, with its Samurai/Rockabilly/Gypsy/Cabaret themes, carries on in the same vein.
REBEL HEART IS HER BEST ALBUM TO DATE
The bulk of the music will be from the megastar’s 13th studio album, Rebel Heart, which is her best work since 2005’s Confessions On A Dance Floor. Presented in lively staged routines are tracks such as Living For Love, Iconic, B**** I’m Madonna, and Body Shop, while the most stirring, heartfelt songs — namely Ghost Town and the title track Rebel Heart — are transformed into stadium sing-alongs whenever the lady brings out her guitar (and there are lots of guitar moments).
SHE WILL STILL PERFORM THE CLASSICS
She has enough material (isn’t she the Material Girl after all?) in her back catalogue for a string of Greatest Hits tours, but, as always, the multiple Billboard and Grammy Award winner only chooses songs that are “thematically and sonically” in sync with the tour’s overall concept. Still, you can expect her to croon re-arranged/remixed versions of evergreen favourites such as Like A Virgin, Into The Groove, La Isla Bonita, Material Girl and Holiday.
SHE CAN DANCE
Dance is part of Madonna’s DNA and precision choreography has always been a key element in every one of her concerts. On her own or flanked by an agile troupe of dancers, every number is designed to lock every eyeball onto the energetic choreographed action on stage. Always upping the ante, the Rebel Heart Tour at times comes across more like a Cirque du Soleil show — with the lady herself executing a couple of age-defying acrobatic moves, while her dancers almost steal the show with their hair-raising stunts on giant swaying poles during the performance of Illuminati. In short: There’s never a dull moment.
ThERE’S DESIGNER GARB ON SHOW
By the Material Girl’s own reckoning, this tour holds the honour of her “having the most clothes on”. Oscar-nominated designer Adrianne Phillips, who has designed and styled Madonna’s last five tours, leads a line-up of “designer who’s who” that include Alexander Wang, Fausto Puglisi and Alessandro Michele for Gucci who have provided inputs for this show. Standouts include the Phillips-designed red kimono for Iconic, the matador-inspired outfits for Living For Love by Nicholas Jebran, and the stunning silver number embellished with thousands of Swarovski crystals for a 1920s Paris club-themed segment by Jeremy Scott for Moschino.
THERE’S HIGH-TECH STAGING
Do not expect the mother-of-four to stay in one spot. The Rebel Heart Tour stage set-up comprises a main stage with an extended catwalk that has a circular stage in the centre and a heart-shaped stage at the end. Madge and her dancers will be performing up and down the catwalk so more of the audience can see them up close. The main stage itself is devised to allow special structures on it to morph into different shapes and forms throughout the show, from a high platform to an angular wall to a giant video screen. It has to be seen to be believed.
SHE’S STILL GOT IT
Madonna is the one that all the princesses of pop today — from Taylor Swift, Katy Perry to Beyonce — and of yesterday — Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Pink — looked up to in the hopes of being as successful, if not timeless. Frankly, many die-hard fans did not think she could have lasted this long. At 57, she has hardly passed her prime, and can still dance rings around people half her age. While critics and ageists are telling her to pack up and retire, time and time again, Madonna has proven that she can still entertain the masses with great music and showmanship that is uniquely her own.