Madonna mesmerizes with sold out “Rebel Heart” reinvention

Madonna Photo by Rob Grabowski, Review by Julie Pabst
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On her first Chicago stop in three years, Madonna once again sold out the United Center equipped with the tenacity and reinvention ability that’s made her the reigning pop queen since the day she debuted. Nowadays, the MTV era’s top controversy starter may be 57-years-old, but she could’ve easily passed for several decades younger on Monday night as she tackled just over two hours of vigorous dance routines, some more than capable guitar and ukulele playing, plus the flexing of her increasingly sharpened vocal muscles.

No one can fault this fearless entertainer for sticking to her creative guns, and in the process, lasting longer than any of her peers and protégés with age and experience only adding to her lengthy list of assets.

As is customary, the artist/actress/all around entrepreneur revolved the focus of this latest run around her latest studio album, “Rebel Heart,” which marks her 13th overall and features collaborations with everyone from hip-hop heavyweights Kanye West and Nicki Minaj to EDM whiz kids Avicii and Diplo. While she may have had been inspired by such younger blood in the studio, Madonna’s sole star power had no difficulty carrying ten tunes from the collection, including the rhythmic romp “Iconic,” the achingly beautiful ballad “HeartBreakCity,” the unplugged anthem-to-be “Ghosttown” and the club-tailored “Like A Prayer” rebirth “Living For Love.”

Madonna

Photo by Rob Grabowski

Though such substantial time spent on new material left less room for retro radio dominators, Madonna did oblige from time to time, introducing her super early single “Burning Up” to the electric guitar, then later re-casting “True Blue” and “Who’s That Girl” in purely acoustic contexts. However, even those pleasant surprises were no match for the explosive audience reaction that followed the iconic “Like A Virgin,” “Material Girl” and “Holiday” (all freshened up with modern day arrangements of course).

Almost as much of a focal point as the music, Madonna also made sure to stage her usual blend of lavish sets, glorious costumes, cutting edge multi-media, astounding aerialists, plus loads of envelope-pushing religious and sexual imagery. Some of it wasn’t for the faint of heart, but no one can fault this fearless entertainer for sticking to her creative guns, and in the process, lasting longer than any of her peers and protégés with age and experience only adding to her lengthy list of assets.

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