Bitch, I'm Madonna! The pop queen's 'Rebel Heart Tour' rolls into At­lanta

The ‘Ma­te­rial Girl’ brings 2015’s high­est-gross­ing tour to Philips Arena

GA Voice - - Front Page - By JOSEPH BROWNELL

Be still your rebel hearts, your be­lea­guered queen ar­rives next week. Af­ter suf­fer­ing sev­eral set­backs that sen­tenced the singer to spend much of last year piv­ot­ing both pro­fes­sion­ally and per­son­ally, Madonna fi­nally brings her “Rebel Heart Tour” to Philips Arena, Wed­nes­day, Jan. 20.

Mark­ing the icon’s 10th trip around the world, the tour was plagued by pro­duc­tion de­lays when, last May, Madonna re­gret­fully post­poned the tour’s first five dates—in­clud­ing At­lanta’s ini­tial Septem­ber show.

“As my fans al­ready know, the show has to be per­fect,” Madonna said in a state­ment. “Assem­bling all the el­e­ments will re­quire more time than we re­al­ized ... I can prom­ise you this show will be worth the wait.”

So what has At­lanta been wait­ing for? Seems the singer still fa­vors fa­mil­iar themes of sex and sal­va­tion. Re­views of the tour’s first leg re­veal that fans should ex­pect poledanc­ing nuns, strad­dling priests, a sim­u­lated Last Sup­per-like orgy—and a ukulele? Af­ter more than 30 years of per­form­ing, over 300 mil­lion world­wide al­bum sales, and two of the top 20 high­est-gross­ing world tours ever, it seems Madonna might still have a few tricks up her sleeve.

Just be­fore Christ­mas, af­ter a Glas­gow venue pulled the plug on her con­cert for break­ing cur­few, Madonna mer­rily re­turned to the stage to gift fans with the show’s fi­nal song. Backed by thou­sands of singing fans, Madonna per­formed a truly un­plugged version of her first hit sin­gle, “Hol­i­day.”

The singer’s lat­est era felt des­tined for doom af­ter an Is­raeli hacker leaked more than two dozen demos on­line. A miffed Madonna com­pared the breach to “artist rape” and “a form of ter­ror­ism,” but scram­bled to res­cue the record’s release by push­ing up pro­mo­tion and part­ner­ing with iTunes in a last minute, Hail Mary, Bey­oncé-like sur­prise release of the al­bum’s first six tracks.

De­spite pulling off a rushed mini-release right be­fore the Christ­mas hol­i­day, the rest of Madonna’s 13th stu­dio al­bum failed to reach the heights of any of her pre­ced­ing ef­forts.

It’s the singer’s first record since 1982 for which the lead sin­gle (or any sin­gle, for that mat­ter) has failed to crack the Bill­board Hot 100. De­spite miss­ing the main­stream charts, Madonna still made a home atop the Bill­board Dance Club Songs chart with all three “Rebel Heart” sin­gles.

The main­stream charts aren’t the only place ab­sent Madonna; she hasn’t had nearly as much ra­dio air­play in this era.

Last year, Madonna ac­cused BBC Ra­dio of ageism af­ter her lead sin­gle “Liv­ing for Love” was ex­cluded from Ra­dio 1 air­play. At the time, head of Ra­dio 1 pro­gram­ming Ge­orge Er­ga­toudis in­sisted he was tasked with cap­tur­ing a younger au­di­ence and that “the vast ma­jor­ity of peo­ple who like Madonna … are over 30 and frankly, we’ve moved on from Madonna.” In­stead, they shuf­fled the song to its sis­ter sta­tion, which caters to “older au­di­ences.”

Once again miffed, Madonna spoke out in a re­veal­ing Rolling Stone in­ter­view, stat­ing, “It’s still the one area where you can to­tally dis­crim­i­nate against some­body, and talk shit. Be­cause of their age. Only fe­males, though. Not males. So in that re­spect we still live in a very sex­ist so­ci­ety.”

De­spite hit­ting back, the crit­i­cism sur­round­ing Madonna’s age con­tin­ued af­ter the singer tum­bled while per­form­ing live at the 2015 Brit Awards.

Through a tu­mul­tuous year, Madonna has poured her­self into this al­bum’s pro­mo­tion. Try­ing to har­ness tech­nol­ogy, Madonna reached her most de­voted fan base via Grindr to pro­mote Rebel Heart. She also suc­cess­fully teamed with Snapchat to de­but the video for “Liv­ing for Love,” but suf­fered dif­fi­cul­ties when pre­mier­ing the video for sec­ond sin­gle “Ghost­town” on Meerkat and the star-stud­ded third video, “Bitch, I’m Madonna,” on Tidal.

While Madonna strug­gles to find her place in the cur­rent land­scape of pop mu­sic, it’s im­por­tant to note that she’s ar­guably the move­ment’s ma­tri­arch. Be­fore the rise of sex­ting, if you wanted some­one to see you naked, you pub­lished a book—much like Madonna did with 1992’s Sex. Madonna paved the way for the cur­rent crop of provoca­tive per­form­ers. With­out Madonna, there’d be no Brit­ney; no Xtina. So, in at least that way, her Rebel Heart still beats strong.

Madonna (Public­ity pho­tos)

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