There’s a long tradition in popular culture of artists who pushed the envelope and redefined the boundaries, but when it comes to pop music, few performers have so gleefully filled the role of iconoclast as Madonna. To say that she’s been a groundbreaker for female music stars would be an understatement, and a short list of current stars who were largely influenced or inspired by her would have to include Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Britney Spears, Pink, The Spice Girls and Nicki Minaj.
But the prototype herself was onstage at TD Garden in Boston Saturday night, and her two-hour extravaganza didn’t disappoint. Madonna may have ventured afield into acting, writing, and assorted charity work, but first and foremost she’s a pop star. In fact, to be more precise, she has always taken immense pleasure in being a “pop tart,” thematically pushing up against the societal norms of sex and proper behavior for young ladies, and not least of which, teasing her conservative Catholic upbringing.
Part and parcel of Madonna’s musical identity has been a virtually unbroken string of dance-pop hits, whether they be updated disco, hip-hop-flavored r&b, or techno-driven beat-heavy epics. Her songs are frequently ridiculously infectious dance numbers, and her lyrics have that knack of getting your attention, whether she’s happily being outrageous or making a serious point about empowerment – and sometimes she’s capable of doing both simultaneously. Controversy may be her middle name, but nobody ever accused Madonna of being boring, and Saturday’s 23-song romp surely was anything but boring, and hardly predictable.
Overall impressions of this “Rebel Heart Tour” would have to center on the sheer spectacle of the night, where you could spend a thousand words describing each song, because the staging and dance routines, mini-dramas and quick and frequently humorous sidelights, were so intricate. But there were also a lot of musical styles covered, and if most of the music was dance-club friendly, Madonna proved herself to be an omniverous and laudably versatile stylist.
To perhaps extract a quick soundbite, Madonna’s evening ranged all the way from roaring techno on “Bitch I’m Madonna” to pretty mainstream rock ’n’ roll on “Body Shop” to almost Celtic folk-rock on “Devil Pray” to traditional Spanish on “La Isla Bonita” to a quite lovely acoustic cover of Edith Piaf’s signature tune, “La Vie En Rose,” where the singer’s ukulele, and a very low-key accordion was the only accompaniment. That’s a lot of musical variety, and Madonna, 57, and her four-piece backup band, two backup vocalists, and 14 dancers delivered it all with panache.
To read the full review by The Enterprise click HERE