(PCM) The timing could not have been any more ironic as Madonna’s concert in Philadelphia was scheduled just one day before the historic visit by Pope Francis to the city of Brotherly Love and she didn’t let us forget it, even joking several times throughout the evening that the Pope may have just been stalking her tour (Pope Francis’s visit to NYC also happened to be just a few days after Madonna’s show at Madison Square Garden) or that he may actually just be in love with her. She did claim however to actually like the new Pope saying “Rules are for fools, right? That’s why I like the new pope; he seems really open-minded”. Madonna also revealed, “I’ve been excommunicated by the Catholic Church three times. I’m very proud of that. It shows that the Vatican cares.”
It’s no surprise as Madonna has always had a rebellious spirit about her and never before have we seen an artist that has truly been able to reinvent herself to travel along perfectly with the ever changing musical landscape and still remain completely relevant. She more than lived up to her status a true musical icon when she brought her “Rebel Heart Tour” to a packed house crowd at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA.
In our opinion Madonna sounded the best she has in years and the sheer amount of theatricality and choreography that went into her overall performance was utterly spectacular. Opening with “Iconic” a single off her latest album “Rebel Heart” featured Madonna being lowered to the stage in a cage which she broke free dressed in full warrior regalia to dance battle a fleet of silver-clad warriors. Video screens featured cameos from both Mike Tyson and Chance The Rapper and the opening number certainly set the pace for what was in-store for the rest of the evenings performance.
She then immediately blasted into my personal favorite off the “Rebel Heart” album “Bitch, I’m Madonna” and then immediately into the classic “Burning Up”. Next up was the provocative “Holy Water” and “Devils Pray” which featured a pole-dancing routine upon silver crosses surrounded by scantily clad dancers in nun costumes and a routine upon a table set up to be reminiscent of Leonard DiVinci’s “Last Supper” painting. Does Madonna ever shy away from controversy … hell no! And that’s why we love her for it! She is bold and presents a very raw picture of the many spiritual parallels that exist in our world.
Another thing that we took notice of during the performance was that Madonna really appeared to be enjoying herself on the stage. She was having a blast bantering with the crowd and despite the fact of having to put on relatively the same show night after night on tour, she was most certainly not phoning it in. She gave her all and it showed.
Madonna also proved that she can very much hold her own even without massive amounts of theatrics, as some of our favorite moments of the show came when it was just her and the guitar on stage. “Body Shop” again off the “Rebel Heart” album was incredibly well-done and a stripped down acoustic version of “True Blue” was just phenomenal. Madonna showed off her amazing vocal prowess during “Heartbreak City” which also included a taste of “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore”.
We are not always the biggest fans when artist change up their hits to different tempos and styles, however Madonna did a fantastic job stylizing songs such as “Dress You Up”, “Like A Virgin” and “Material Girl” with artistic flair. We had zero complaints. Madonna wrapped up her nearly two-hour set with “Unapologetic Bitch” followed by a one song encore of “Holiday” during which a literal celebration exploded upon the stage with Madonna leading the party before being swooped up into the rafters by a harness concluding the show.
Photography credit: Andrew Wendowski