Madonna's Rebel Heart Tour: The highlights and lowlights
Madonna wrapped up her final Rebel Heart show in Sydney yesterday (March 20), filming the last performance on a tour which has garnered more publicity and controversy than her previous two.
Following a fairly lackluster reception from her 2012 MDNA tour, Madonna pulled out all the stops with Rebel Heart, and interest in the show was fuelled by relatively recent interest in social media, where she documented every step of the way.
The show's set list was a strong combination of the best tracks on Rebel Heart, including 'Living For Love', 'HeartBreakCity' and 'Holy Water' as well as classics she hasn't performed in years such as 'True Blue' and 'Who's That Girl'. She also included tracks like 'Music' and 'Holiday' so even those with only a vague knowledge of her catalogue would be entertained.
The show featured four segments. The first was a Joan of Arc/Samauri themed segment, in which Madonna entered the stage in a gold cage. The second was a Rockabilly meets Tokyo section, and third had a Latin/Gypsy theme. The finale saw Madonna dressed as a flapper, before expanding into a general party themed section.
The tour opened in September in Montreal, and traversed Canada for the rest of the month - even helping a gay couple get engaged - before moving on to the United States in October.
In November she moved to Europe, just as the devastating terror attacks took place in Paris. Speaking in Stockholm the following night, she said she felt torn about performing. “Why am I up here dancing and having fun when people are crying over the loss of their loved ones?” she said, before explaining that not performing would be giving in. “They want to silence us,” she said, “but there is strength in unity.”
When she visited Paris, days later, she performed a special set of songs at the Palace de Resistance, where her son David joined her for acoustic performances of 'Ghost Town' and 'Like A Prayer'.
In a relative first, she did toy with the set list, often at the end of the Latin/Gypsy third set, where one song slot would be filled with a different classic each night. Often it was 'Like A Prayer' but she also threw in 'Don't Tell Me' in Turin, her first live concert performance of 'Take A Bow' in Taipei, and 'Drowned World/Substitute For Love' in London.
In January 2016 she went back to the southern states in the US and some of Central America. At her Houston show on January 12, she performed 'Rebel Rebel' as a tribute to her hero David Bowie, whose death rocked the world that week. "I'm devastated," she said. "David Bowie changed the course of my life forever."
In February, she took the tour to Asia, visiting Thailand, Japan, China and Singapore, where the Catholic Church called for a boycott over "religiously sensitive content."
Madonna's personal life was rocked across the course of the tour, after her 15 year-old son Rocco refused to follow her when the show left London in December, instead staying with his father Guy Richie in London. An international custody battle ensued, and uncharacteristically, she began expressing her sadness over the issue on social media, and even live on stage during one emotional performance in New Zealand in March.
By the time she reached Australia in March - her first time down under in 23 years - the tour took was taking some colourful turns. She performed a surprise, intimate concert called 'Tears of a Clown' at The Forum in Melbourne, in which she appeared dressed as a clown, armed with a cocktail.
Much to the delight of fans she performed extremely rare ballads including 'X-Static Process', 'Nobody's Perfect' and 'Joan of Arc', which had been left off from the tour's set list. She also attempted stand up comedy, something she teased she might try during an appearance on The Jonathan Ross Show in 2015.
She was subject to criticism in Australia after turning up late for shows. On March 16, she was over 2 and a half hours late for a performance, and fans allegedly took refunds. She then pulled down a 17 year old girl's corset live on stage, apologising immediately for the "sexual harassment". The girl later described the incident as "the greatest moment of my life."
The final show in Sydney was a triumph by all accounts, with the Queen of Pop even throwing in a cover of Kylie Minogue's 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head'. She also used to opportunity to hit back at media claims that she was having a meltdown over the Rocco situation, remarking: "Heaven forbid a mother should miss her son."
The final two shows were professionally filmed, set to be part of a forthcoming project, though it's unknown whether this means a traditional concert DVD release, or a documentary along the lines of 2005's I'm Going To Tell You A Secret.
All in all, Madonna performed 82 shows on the tour, to an estimated 800,000 people, bringing in a revenue of around $107,000,000.
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