MADONNA AT WELLS FARGO CENTER (Philadelphia’s Show Review)

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Often imitated but never duplicated, pop music icon Madonna is in a league of her own. Her 13 albums have spawned 82 singles, 69 music videos, 10 World tours, and earned her appearances in a variety of movies. While we have heard rumblings in recent years that Madonna is too old, is trying too hard, and needs to hang it up, we couldn’t disagree more. If the legion of fans that packed the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday, September 24th for her ‘Rebel Heart Tour’ was any indication, the Queen of Pop won’t be departing from the spotlight anytime soon.

The best selling female artist of all time is still going strong at age 57 and we were there first hand to witness the spectacle that is Madonna. The Wells Fargo Center was abuzz from the moment we arrived just before 9pm. The anticipation was palpable with fans young and old counting down the minutes until the curtain (adorned with the Rebel Heart album cover) dropped. At 945pm, the wait was over and the stage filled with dancers in exotic, soldier-like costumes, brandishing large metal poles with crosses affixed to the ends.

Opening with ‘Iconic’, the Material Girl, in an aptly iconic moment, descended from the rafters in a steel cage. Once the cage reached stage level, it opened, and released Madonna into the clutches of the ‘armed’ dancers. The crowd went bananas, chanting her name, and snapping photos on the cell phones. She transitioned into her second song ‘Bitch I’m Madonna’ flanked by a gaggle of asian dancers.

For her third number, ‘Burning Up’, she dawned an electric guitar and made her way out onto the lengthy runway that ran from the stage out into the floor seats. With flames flashing across the huge digital screens behind her, she rocked the Wells Fargo Center with one of her early hits. The building was electric and would stay that way throughout her 20+ song performance.

The next few hours were filled with hits both old and new, a whirlwind of costume, stage, and dancer changes, and a sea of fans that fully seemed to appreciate that they were in the presence of one of the most well known, talented, envelope pushing female artists of our lifetime. Sure, we’ve been annoyed with some of her antics over the past few years (like when she suddenly developed a British accent or when appeared on stage with Avicii at Ultra Music Festival in 2013 and asked the all ages crowd “have you seen Molly?”, which she later claimed was not a drug reference) but all of that nonsense vacated our thoughts from the moment her captivating performance began.

30 years after her first tour in 1985, she continues to bring the thunder to the stage. She even dedicated a song to Pope Francis (‘La Isla Bonita’) who is scheduled to appear in Philly this weekend. “”Rules are for fools. That’s why I like the new pope. He seems very open-minded.” she told the Philly faithful. We would have loved to see the Pope join her on stage for ‘Like a Prayer’, ‘Like a Virgin’, or ‘Papa Don’t Preach’, but alas it was not meant to be. For lifelong fans of Madonna, not even the Pope himself could have made this a more religious experience. If you have the chance to catch Madonna when she rolls into your city, we highly recommend snagging a ticket and getting into the groove.

David Miller

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