Madonna has been one of the biggest stars on the planet for over 30 years now and in her new Showtime special “Madonna: Rebel Heart Tour” (airing tonight at 9pm ET/PT), she treats her fans to a two hour musical fever dream that encapsulates her entire career.
Unlike her previous documentaries “Truth or Dare” and “I’m Going To Tell You A Secret,” there’s almost no verte-style behind-the-scenes segments, putting the focus squarely on her performance. That’s a smart choice because a Madonna show is a ridiculously entertaining spectacle. With a huge troupe of talented backup dancers, a steady rotation of costume and set changes and more phallic symbols than a hot dog factory, “Madonna: Rebel Heart Tour” is an up close look at one of the most outlandish tours in recent memory, making it a must-watch for all fans, even those who caught the concert in person. Here’s a preview of the special’s five most “Madonna” moments:
Crucifix pole dancing on “Holy Water”
Blasphemy has always be a big part of Madonna's persona (right down to her name) and there’s no shortage of creative heresy in the new special. Turning a religious symbol into a totem for sexual liberation is just about the most Madonna thing ever. Did we mention her dancers are wearing a nun coif?
Madonna the jazz chanteuse
Throughout “Rebel Heart,” Madonna revisits her myriad personas, from bullfighter to military commander. But her infatuation with the classic jazz singers of old is sometimes overlooked and during the special, she revisits jazzy Madonna during a number of songs, culminating in a sweet tribute to Edith Piaf on a cover of “La Vie en Rose.”
In-bed choreography on “S.E.X.”
It wouldn’t be a Madonna show with some serious sexual provocation and in one of the special’s naughtiest bits, her dancers -- all of whom are absolutely amazing throughout -- pair off for some over-the-covers action on “S.E.X.” Needless to say, you may want to put the kids in bed before turning on this concert film.
Madonna the rockstar
One of the best elements of “Madonna: Rebel Heart Tour” is the new arrangements of her old classics. She turns “True Blue” into a tender ukulele ballad, “Music” into a cool jazz standard and “Material Girl” into a skittering dubstep banger. But the most interesting transformation comes early, when she flips her early hit “Burnin Up” into a full on power rock song, complete with a V-neck guitar. We’ve always known she rocks, but never like this.
There’s always been a larger-than-life quality to Madonna and she’s one of the few performers who could command such a production with poise. Near the end of the special, there’s a montage of the many famous friends she brought on stage during “Unapologetic Bitch” and the guest list -- from Katy Perry and Ariana Grande to Amy Schumer and Idris Elba -- drives home her celebrity status. In an era when social media has dragged our pop stars back down to earth, it’s refreshing to see such unapologetic grandeur.
Be sure to tune into “Madonna: Rebel Heart Tour” tonight at 9pm ET/PT on Showtime and keep it here on AXS.com for more on the Material Girl.