Edmonton hearts rebel Madonna.
More than 14,000 fans got into the groove, vogued, and expressed themselves during Our Lady of Pop’s inaugural visit to Edmonton.
Sunday’s dancetastic celebration of love, nakedness and religion was the first of two at Rexall Place — and the only two Alberta dates on her Rebel Heart tour, which has already grossed $20 million US from just 10 concerts.
(P.S. Tickets are still available to Monday’s show.)
Highlights: Uh, her mere presence? Madonna released her very first album in 1983 — and we’ve had to wait 32 years for the controversial dance-pop diva to find the E-spot.
She’s not nearly as shocking as she was in the ’80s or ’90s, but the 57-year-old mother of four still proved to be a rebel at Sunday’s show.
She pole-danced with strippers “dressed” as nuns as she sang Holy Water — a throbbing number from her 13th and latest album, Rebel Heart — which ended with a bunch of her dancers re-enacting the Last Supper.
She strummed a ukulele, while sitting on a pile of tires, as she sang True Blue. She pushed one of her male dancers from the top of a spiral staircase during HeartBreakCity, a maudlin love-gone-wrong number, also from Rebel Heart.
Low note: Her opening felt a bit lacklustre, especially for an icon of her stature. At 9:45 p.m. the lights went out in Rexall. Then her Rebel Heart curtain fell to the stage, with nary a musical, pyro or lighting cue to accompany it.
In fact, there were a few seconds of awkward silence as fans waited for her dancers, dressed as ancient Chinese soldiers, and a video of Iconic, featuring Mike Tyson and Chance the Rapper, to start the proceedings.
In the crowd: Mostly fortysomething (and older) women and men who grew up during the Walkman era of the ’80s.
(Surprisingly, very few brought their offspring — there was a noticeable lack of fans younger than 20 years old, perhaps due to Madonna’s steep ticket prices.)
Hundreds of women wore Madge-inspired outfits, from Like A Virgin wedding dresses to tutus to bullfighter’s suits.
Strike a pose: As strong and supple as her voice was — ranging from girlish (Like A Virgin) to deep and dangerous (Burning Up, HeartBreakCity) — Madonna’s dance moves were just as stunning.
She twirled around a stripper’s pole. She palled around with the rest of her male and female dancers during Deeper and Deeper. She strutted across the catwalk during Holiday, the last song of her 135-minute set.
Quip of the night: “As the evening goes on, you’ll be required to undress,” she said before her seventh song, True Blue.
True to her word, she intermittently singled out fans in the crowd and demanded they take off their tops. “Edmonton is going to be naked!” she gushed, as she collected one man’s “Italians Do It Better” T-shirt.
Later on, she pulled one woman on stage and made her wear a novelty hat with a turkey protruding from the top of it. “I’ve had a penis on my head, too,” Madonna joked.
Material girl: Her costumes ranged from ornate Chinese robes to ‘50s greaser to revealing dresses with fishnet stockings.
Unapologetic bitch: It’s the title of one of her songs from Rebel Heart, and it suits her to perfection. She didn’t bother tailoring her set list to appease long-suffering Edmonton fans — they got the same songs as every other city on her current tour. Which meant 13 (of the 19) tracks from the deluxe version of Rebel Heart, which is far from her best effort.
While she performed a handful of her older hits, including Like A Virgin, Holiday, La Isla Bonita, Material Girl and Music, other classics only made cameos. She sang a snippet of Vogue, for example, during Holy Water, and a teasing morsel of Love Don’t Live Here Anymore during HeartBreakCity.
Perhaps even more sacrilegious, Madonna completely ignored Like A Prayer, Live To Tell, Hung Up and her entire 1998 album, Ray of Light. Do we have to wait another 32 years before she performs those in Edmonton? Or maybe she’ll do a few of them during her second show on Monday night?