Amid separate calls by two Southeast Asian archbishops to their Roman Catholic flock to boycott her Manila and Singapore concerts, iconic and often controversial pop superstar Madonna performed with much provocation to a full house seated crowd of at least 12,000 in the first of her two shows at the Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday.
“This is my first time in the Philippines, motherfuckers!…You don’t mind if I swear, do you?…I’m here to take the city!” she greeted her cheering fans.
Despite the concerns of Roman Catholic leaders in some countries over Madonna’s supposed “disrespectful use of Catholic and other Christian symbols” in her performances, the 57-year old legendary performer remained faithful to the provocative themes of her “Rebel Heart Tour” which include images of dancers dressed as nuns and priests as well as numbers like “Holy Water” and “Devil Pray” which combine sexuality and religion.
It was earlier reported that she would not be performing “Holy Water” in her February 28 concert in Singapore.
In Manila, however, Madonna did not show any signs of toning down her act, even after her earlier visit to shelters for orphans and street children that showed her benevolent side. If anything, the artist dubbed as the Material Girl sounded unapologetic and even downright defiant. She looked determined to elevate her craft to performance art levels while showing no interest in appeasing her critics.
In an interview with The Oakland Press last September to promote the ongoing tour, Madonna explained her thought-provoking act.
“It’s in my DNA to take ideas and conventions and to challenge the norms, to question things, to turn them inside out and say, ‘But what if …?’ It’s not because I don’t respect people’s ideas and beliefs. I have ultimate respect for people’s ideas and beliefs. But people need to have their ideas and beliefs challenged, if only to make them stronger about what they believe in,” she noted.
Madonna’s profanity-laden spiels were also a big part of her ongoing tour as she repeatedly prodded her Filipino audience to reply, “Fuck, yeah!” to everything she did that pleased them. After receiving a crown as a gift from a fan, she boldly declared, “Nobody fucks with the Queen!.” In another spiel, she told a story which she later qualified as a joke about her Filipina trainer that went on to have sex with her boyfriend.
Outside of these eyebrow-raising moments which the good-humored audience either loudly cheered or simply took in stride, Madonna delivered an unforgettable audio-visual spectacle that no amount of spoilers could ruin.
Her breathtaking acrobatic dancers were easily reminiscent of the world-famous Cirque du Soleil all-human circus act. Another highlight was her cross-shaped stage which included hydraulics and several moving parts, punctuated by a heart-shaped tip that allowed her to move around a lot and come closer to fans seated in the farther seating sections of the arena.
And then there were the hits that included well-received performances of “Burning Up,” “True Blue,” “Like a Virgin,” “La Isla Bonita,” “Music,” “Material Girl,” “Holiday” and the surprise additions of “Who’s That Girl,” and “Like a Prayer”, which she rehearsed but had not performed in the tour for quite a while.
In one of her onstage banter with the crowd, she said she might perform “Crazy For You,” possibly her biggest hit in the country, “Maybe tomorrow” referring to her February 25 show in the same venue.
Source : Interaksyon