Unapologetic Queen of Pop
Many of the biggest female pop stars today have come to perform for crowds of thousands in Manila. Yet, the Queen of Pop, the one who created the path for all those divas had not graced the stage with her presence, even after the release of Madonna’s first album more than 30 years ago.
Growing up in a house where Madonna’s music could always be heard, there was no a question that I had flashbacks from being a teenager in high school as some of the songs filled the Mall of Asia Arena Wednesday night. What a great feeling it is to hear some of my favorite songs live from the Queen of Pop herself.
The best about Madonna is that unlike so many artists of today she is unafraid to break the boundaries and give fans an interesting show at the same time. The show was divided onto four themes, included Joan of Arc/Samurai, Rockabilly meets Tokyo Latin/Gypsy and Party/Flapper plus religiously sensitive materials. Despite the intricate setups, Madonna, at the 57, is still able to cause such an impact with her music.
Her world tour showcases many theatrics too difficult to quantify, but without a doubt filled the night with electrifying energy. From the moment the unapologetic Queen of Pop emerged from a cage of swords onto the stage, everything was visually mind-blowing: stellar graphics, amazing set pieces, and great repeated use of the elongated stage. The enthusiasm of the crowd and Madonna giving it her all on stage made me feel young again, filled with happiness. For those two hours, I was definitely in my happy place.
She started the show with “Iconic” from her latest album. She undresses into “Bitch, I’m Madonna,” a Japanese Samurai-inspired outfit that definitely pumped up the queen and her fans. A pack of female dancers wearing nun habits and ruffled undies and swinging on stripper poles shaped like crosses accompanied “Holy Water” with a snippet of “Vogue”, while “Devil Pray” had Madonna while reenacting the Last Supper
The next theme has a garage where Madonna performed “Body Shop” before getting a ukulele for an acoustic version of “True Blue”. From then on, it’s clear that the Rebel Heart Tour connects today’s Madonna with her versatility. She also performed “Heartbreak City”, before doing a cover of Rose Royce’s “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore”, and a modern version of Like a Virgin.
The third section has a Mexican theme, giving way for “La Isla Bonita”, along with “Dress You Up”, “Into the Groove” and “Who’s That Girl?”. Even though there was much going on with an army of dancer/actors and multiple screens, it never took your attention away from the star of the show. For me, the biggest moment of the night was the stripped version of “Like A Prayer”, this song got the biggest cheers and singalong from the audience, the moment when fans got to really experience her talent. Her vocal prowess was on the top form, hitting and sustaining notes in her range. Another element that kept the crowd on their toes was Madonna’s heartfelt interactions with the the audience.
During the last quarter of the show, donning a Swarvoski crystal outfit, she opened the set with “Music” and a snippet of “Give It 2 Me”. Madonna kept pace through the entire performance, and the show never lost steam. The night ended with a celebratory version of “Holiday”, Madonna came back draped in a Philippine flag.
If you only see one concert in your life, this is it. A mix of old & new songs. Stages changed with the costumes four times, each sticking to a different theme, each with its own story. It was put together to give us a thrilling concert experience, which again seems like an effort many pop stars don’t make today. There is reason why she is the Queen of Pop. For most of the fans who waited more than 30 years to see the pop icon in Manila, despite her unapologetic attitude, the show was worth the wait and beyond amazing.
More Photos at Madonna Live in Manila Photo Gallery
Special Thanks to MMI Live
Written by Kate Santos
Photos by Glenn Michael Tan
Madonna Live in Manila Setlist (Feb 24 concert)
1 - Iconic
2 - Bitch I'm Madonna
3 - Burning Up
4 - Holy Water (with "Vogue" snippet)
5 - Devil Pray
6 - Body Shop
7 - True Blue (acoustic)
8 - Deeper and Deeper
9 - HeartBreakCity (with "Love Don't Live Here Anymore" snippet)
10 - Like a Virgin (with "Heartbeat" sample)
11 - Living for Love
12 - La Isla Bonita
13 - Who's That Girl (acoustic)
14 - Like a Prayer
15 - Rebel Heart
16 - Music (with "Give It 2 Me" sample)
17 - Candy Shop
18 - Material Girl
19 - La vie en rose (Édith Piaf cover) (acoustic)
20 - Unapologetic Bitch
21 - Holiday