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Review: "Rebel Heart Tour" - Madonna

by Roger Wink, VVN Music

Oh, Madonna. I wish you would grow the hell up.

Mixed in with the electronic beats and sophomoric jokes on the Material Girl's latest live album, Rebel Heart Tour, is the fantastic show woman I remember all to well from the iconic Blonde Ambition Tour.  Sure, she was over the top then, too, but every song was a showcase of her talent as a singer and a performer.

For the Rebel Heart set, she relies too early on her EDM music from the opening "Iconic" through to "Body Shop", 27 minutes of monotonous beats that just aren't very different from one track to the next.

It isn't until the stripped down version of her 1986 hit "True Blue" that the show starts to take some shape.  It's the first of numerous reworkings of some of her most iconic hits that are interspersed throughout the rest of the show. "Like a Virgin" gets some extra beats while the medley of "Dress You Up" and "Into the Groove" take on a Latin groove, continuing the sound of "La Isla Bonita" which came just before it in the set list.

Probably the worst cut on the entire album is "Unapologetic Bitch", seven minutes long including a long middle interlude with ongoing jokes about bananas.  Really, what was cute and cutting edge when Madonna was thirty no longer makes it.

The best cuts?  Madonna's take on Edith Piaf's "La Vie En Rose", which she calls her favorite part of the night, proves that she can be a fine singer and interpreter when she dispenses of the beats and clownish behavior.

Also great is the closing version of "Like a Prayer".

Now, I'll be the first to admit that much of the allure of a Madonna show is the visual aspect which doesn't come across on CD, so the DVD/Blu-Ray is probably a much better experience but that doesn't excuse the low points, and there are many of them, in the listening experience. Hopefully, Madonna's new pledge to do more intimate shows will finally allow her to showcase her singing talent and dispense of the spectacle and sophomoric behavior.