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MADONNA :: Always The Rebel

Madonna — without a doubt an artist of indomitable force! Tonight the iconic Queen of Pop will bring her live performance installation to screens all across the country when Showtime the cable network that landed the event airs Madonna: Rebel Heart Tour a concert film that captures the musical spectacle that supported the promotion of Madonna’s last full-length album release of the same name. Rebel Heart was released in 2015 and marked her 3 decades in music, a relevance that does not go unnoticed among pop circles. The tour was her tenth (and her ninth world tour) and featured an unbridled representation of woman who has pushed boundaries and tested limits, musically, culturally and politically.

Her impact on culture was an inevitability that launched as quickly as she took the stage of the very first MTV Video Music Awards. Debuting the title track from her sophomore effort “Like a Virgin” Madonna gave audiences a glimpse of not only her provocative sensibility, but also a taste of what she was preparing to unleash when she embarked on her debut tour. The Virgin Tour appropriately enough entitled open in 1985 in Seattle’s Paramount Theatre, and by the time she had made her journey to her home city of New York, Madonna set records for selling out venues in minutes! “I never set out to be a role model,” she has said. “I am a strong woman, a successful woman, and I don’t conform to a stereotype.”

In 1987 she embarked on her first world tour and begged the question Who’s That Girl? Promoting her third and then best selling album True Blue the tour also benefitted to spread the word on Madonna new film of the same name and its accompanying soundtrack which featured the hit title track and one of her most distinct signature songs “Causin’ A Commotion”. The tour was larger in scale, reflective of Madonna’s rising stardom and capitalized on her controversial style and personality. The tour would serve as a precursor to what would mark her most defining era, and synch Madonna’s place as a music and pop-culture icon on a par with Michael Jackson. At a performance in Paris, she broke attendance records playing to 130,000 fans.

“I never set out to be a role model,” Madonna has said. “I am a strong woman, a successful woman, and I don’t conform to a stereotype.”

By 1990 Madonna was due for a dramatic reinvention and entered into the new decade with her most elaborate work yet. The Blond Ambition World Tour was unlike anything any fans had seen. It promoted the most personal album of her career to date Like a Prayer and supported her new film project, the comic-strip inspired blockbuster Dick Tracy which co-starred and was directed by Warren Beatty. With Madonna’s richly textured influences that included the fine art of some of her favorite artists including Tamara de Lempicka, the timelessness and glamour of the Art Deco styling and the grandeur of Hollywood, Blond Ambition revolutionized the “pop-concert”. The concert would be named “The Greatest Tour of the 1990s” by Rolling Stone magazine.

It combined Madonna’s relentless talent as a performer and reinforced her dedication to artistic evolution without compromise. Collaborating with forward-fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier, the two set trends and broke molds. The Blond Ambition World Tour would be televised by HBO and was prominently featured in Madonna’s rock documentary Truth or Dare, and concluded with one of her greatest dance recordings. “Vogue” would become an internationally regarded #1 hit and is still influencing music today. Madonna had now achieved a celebrity unmatched among her contemporaries and would chart a path for female artists that would break barriers, set pop-music on a trajectory that would inspire a generation of new artists to follow in her footprints.

As for Madonna, she proved that well into the new millennium, there was no stopping her; neither was her thirst quenched for continuing to test her own musical evolution as well as up the scale of her live performances. Blond Ambition proved just the tip of the scale, and she has outweighed her vision and transcended expectations ever since. The Rebel Heart World Tour continues in that tradition. A spectacle that lit arenas world wide, it was meant to be her largest and most elaborate event to date — and did not disappoint. Celebrating her thirty years as a touring artist, Rebel Heart Tour is inspired by Madonna’s tireless effort to “inspire a revolution” through her art, assembling a cast of hundreds, if not thousands, of artists to convey her message. “Rebel Heart is one part of me who wants to push the envelope, rebellious,” she has said. “I speak my mind, and there is this other side of me, which is the vulnerable, romantic side, the side that can be hurt.”

The set list promotes most of the hits from the album of the same name and includes elaborate stagings of the dance hit “Living For Love” and the electro-bass-driven “Illuminati” and the club favorite “Bitch I'm Madonna” featuring Nicki Minaj. It also intersects some of the greatest tracks from her extensive catalog with reimagined works of “Like a Virgin”, “Material”, “Music” and “Deeper and Deeper”. “Vogue” makes an appearance, as part of the bridge in “Holy Water”, but if anything is clear from Madonna’s past performances, audiences must release all expectations and anticipation over what they are about to experience. The Rebel Heart Tour is no less of an adventure.

Abandon all you’ve known and release your inner rebel. “The way we’re going to change the world or ultimately feel joy is through unity.” Come together and prepare to turn yourself inside out as Showtime airs Madonna: Rebel Heart Tour tonight!

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