Madonna has been the standard-bearer among female pop artists for three decades, and any time a new star emerges the comparison is always made. The verdict is usually that Madonna did it first, and better, but It’s gotten to the point of cliché, to where you aren’t sure if you can trust the narrator.

And then you go see Madonna in concert and all doubt is swept away. She really is the blueprint for pretty much any modern pop star, from Taylor Swift to Rihanna, and she proved it Saturday night at the KFC Yum! Center.

Just like recent tours by Swift, Beyoncé, Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus, Madonna’s “The Rebel Heart Tour” is filled with spectacle: a host of dancers, set pieces, elaborate stage design and full-tilt diva behavior. But there’s a subtle and important difference.

Where spectacle has become the primary point of tours by the post-Madonna crowd, with a raft of distracting special effects and gimmicks, the queen herself largely goes for practical magic. Art and athleticism are Madonna’s go-to moves, and she uses them to reflect and enhance the music, not cover up its shortcomings.

Despite the almost exhausting scope of Madonna’s show – it features four themed sets clocking in at around 30 minutes each – it rarely lags. The show opened with “Joan of Arc/Samurai,” followed by “Rockabilly meets Tokyo,” “Latin/Gypsy” and “Party/Flapper,” and each was defined equally by the music, costuming and choreography.

The music reached all the way back to 1983’s “Holiday” but, in true Madonna fashion, she refused to cater to nostalgists and leaned heavily on her most recent album, “Rebel Heart.” Even her older songs were reinvented in entertaining ways, especially sacred cows such as ‘Like A Virgin,” “Material Girl” and “Dress You Up,” each of which was wedged into a different themed set.

“Like A Virgin,” for example, was recast as Japanese pop meets electronic dance music on a codeine drip; “Dress You Up” was given a flamenco twist; and “Like  A Prayer” and “True Blue” were both stripped down to their basics, the former performed on a ukelele.

While there’s certainly value in straight-up recreation, it was a lot more interesting to hear how Madonna keeps herself engaged in decades-old material. It was also intriguing how she very firmly ensured that it was a pop show at heart, especially given the wide range of albums from which she drew. There may be more contenders for her crown than ever before, but the Queen of Pop still has a strong left hook.