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by Robert Patterson:
Madonna was born in Bay City and raised in the Detroit suburb of Rochester Hills.
Madonna put on a visually stunning and energetic show at Joe Louis Arena on Oct. 1, featuring numerous costumes and dancers who also performed some physically demanding stunts between Madonna’s costume changes.
Madonna has more Top 10 hits (38) than any other music artist in history. On this tour, you would never know she is 57 years old. She performs at a very high level not many artists can duplicate.
Madonna looks like she’s in incredible shape. And, she has to be to dance and sing as much as she did, looking like a woman half her age. She also pulled off some very difficult dance moves. Her voice still sounds terrific, as heard clearly on the numerous ballads throughout the show.
Madonna Detroit quotes:
“Motor City, your hometown girl is back.”
After singing “Body Shop:” “If anyone can understand the trials and tribulations of working at a body shop, it’s the Motor City.”
“Detroit made me who I am today.”
“They told me I have two hours, so get in, get out. Umm, bitch, I’m from Detroit.”
“I’m very proud to be part of the going-up process in Detroit. I’ve been involved in a lot of projects with Dan Gilbert. From the Youth Boxing Program, to the Women’s Empowerment Program. Detroit is making a comeback, so watch out.”
“We are going to build this city back up.”
“Detroit has some good looking guys. Why did I leave?”
Unique to Detroit:
Madonna wanted to do something special for her hometown crowd, so she performed an acoustic version of “Frozen.” She said this was a special performance just for Detroit, and from what I’ve seen from her other tour dates so far, she did not perform that hit song anywhere else.
Madonna’s father was in the crowd at the Detroit show. She thanked him for making her strong. Madonna dedicated the song “Rebel Heart” to him.
Madonna’s daughter, Lourdes Leon, also was in the crowd for the Detroit show. She attends the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Madonna dedicated the French song “La Vie En Rose” to her daughter saying she is the first person to teach her love.
Madonna has been criticized by some for not playing very many hit songs and fan favorites on her last couple of tours. She had more of a balance between those hits and newer material on this tour to satisfy even the toughest critics.
She performed “Burning Up” on guitar, “True Blue” on the ukulele, “Deeper and Deeper” just the way we remember, portions of “Vogue” and “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore,” a techno version of “Like a Virgin,” “La Isla Bonita,” a medley of “Dress You Up,” “Into The Groove,” and “Lucky ‘Star,” an acoustic version of “Who’s That Girl,” “Music,” and “Material Girl.”
For the encore, she performed “Holiday,” which was her first single ever.
Total songs: 27
Start time: 9:35 p.m.
End time: 11:47 p.m.
Madonna still does what she wants because, well, she’s Madonna. On this tour she is giving fans a good mix of new songs and fan favorites.
Most of the songs were filled with very talented dancers. Madonna also showed off her dance skills, doing quite a bit of difficult moves throughout the night. The costumes on both the dancers and Madonna were visually terrific and classy.
If any fans had any doubts Madonna was and is still the best, then her “Rebel Heart” tour will remind them that bitch, she’s Madonna, and don’t you forget it.
“Motor City — the hometown girl is back!” she declared towards the start of the two-hour and 10-minute show, and later she told the crowd that, “Detroit made me who I am today” before talking about her involvement with entrepreneur and philanthropist Dan Gilbert — owner of Rock Financial, Quicken Loans and the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers — in women’s empowerment and youth boxing programs as well as “some new schools we’re building.”
Though she acknowledged the city’s recent financial problems and bankruptcy, Madonna announced that “Detroit is making a comeback people, so watch out. We got heart, baby. We’re in the heart of America. With all of its heart and all of this love we are gonna build this city back up. Believe that!”
Madonna — who was born in Bay City, Mich., and raised in the Detroit suburbs of Pontiac and Rochester — also gave shout-outs to her father Silvio “Tony” Ciccone, and to daughter Lourdes, who both attended Thursday’s show. She dedicated “Rebel Heart” to her dad, thanking him “for making me so strong and instilling this drive in me to survive.” And before her version of Edith Piaf’s “La vie en rose,” Madonna credited Lourdes — a second-year student at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor — with inspiring her to pick up the ukulele, which Madonna played on the song, and also noted that Lourdes both plays the ukulele and speaks French better than her mom.
Madonna also used her hometown connection for some light-hearted references during the concert. After “Body Shop,” a sequence set in an auto repair garage, she noted that, “If anybody can understand the trials and tribulations of working in the body shop, it’s the Motor City. If it’s got tits or tires, it’s gonna give you trouble.” At another juncture she told the crowd, “There’s a lot going on up here — not bad for a small-town girl from Detroit.” And complaining about a non-existent time limit for the show — “They said I have two hours — get in, do you stuff, get out” — Madonna grumbled, “Yeah, bitch, I’m from Detroit, so I should get some extra time up here on stage, right? Yeah!” She also added an acoustic version of her 1998 single “Frozen” to the setlist especially for Thursday’s show.
Prior to the tour launch, Madonna refined what she meant about the area being “provincial” — a remark which drew an open letter from Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett defending the area. “I appreciate my provincial upbringing,” she told the suburban newspaper the Oakland Press. “To me it’s really important that I came from the Midwest, with my father and people that I was surrounded with, very strong work ethic and my practical approach to work, and not a lot of frills. I don’t think I would be as creative as I am if I’d grown up surrounded by everything at my fingertips. The fact that I came from a small town in the Midwest has a lot to do with the kind of open notebook that I had to start my journey of creativity.”
Certainly not this Madonna, the one who brought ageless energy, flamboyance and flash Thursday night to a packed Joe Louis Arena, homecoming stop on the pop queen’s Rebel Heart Tour. These days, the 57-year-old star seems eager to drive home a point: In a world brimming with pop contenders, there’s still only one of her.
With her father and daughter looking on, Madonna also served up the most Detroit-centric show we’ve ever seen from an artist who for years has been accused of spurning her roots. There were pep talks about the city’s resilience, celebrations of the city’s comeback (“Watch out!”), even a shout-out to developer and “incredible guy” Dan Gilbert.
The spectacle had started with a big helping of new “Rebel Heart” fare to go with Madonna’s latest foray into erotic religious imagery, her male dancers costumed as cross-bearing knights and their female counterparts as pole-dancing nuns. From there on through the euphoric “Holiday” encore, the two-hour-plus show kept up the brisk pace — a whirl of set changes, outfits that quickly went from lavish to skimpy, and tight, intricate dance numbers that often found their way down the lengthy catwalk.
In a defiant assertion of her relevance, Madonna has long used her tours to emphasize her latest music, and Thursday was no different: The set was loaded with “Rebel Heart” material, and when she did tap the older stuff, it got unapologetically reinvented. She strapped on a guitar to dial up the riff wattage of 1983′s “Burning Up,” and turned “Dress You Up” into a colorful, festive number complete with some rumba and a conga line. She and guitarist Monte Pittman doubled on ukuleles for “True Blue,” and teamed up again with acoustic guitars on “Who’s That Girl.” “Like a Virgin” was stripped into a spare, throbbing number in a rare scene that saw Madonna alone on the stage, a shared moment of intimate nostalgia between artist and audience.
Elsewhere, the classics got nipped and tucked inside other numbers, leaving fans with brief tastes of songs like “Vogue,” “Into the Groove” and “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore.”
Thursday brought a lean-and-lithe Madonna who balanced seriously intense performances with a lighthearted, sometimes mischievous spirit. For all the sizzle — the dazzling set pieces, the splashy visuals, the eye-popping interludes by her supremely skilled dance crew — it was a show that planted some genuine heart in the proceedings.
That was certainly the mood as she deposited ample Detroit devotion throughout. More than a year after providing financial support to several community organizations, Madonna name-checked two of them (the Empowerment Plan and Downtown Boxing Gym) from the Joe Louis stage, and spoke enthusiastically about her working relationship with Gilbert, the Quicken Loans magnate and downtown developer.
“Detroit made me who I am today, so I want to say thank you with these next few songs,” she said while easing into a stretch that included “Rebel Heart,” dedicated to her dad somewhere out in the crowd, 84-year-old Silvio Ciccone.
She also veered from her tour’s stock set list to present a Detroit exclusive: a gentle version of 1998′s “Frozen.” The Motor City is “the heart of America,” she explained, thus transforming the song’s open-your-heart lyrics into a plea to the country to unlock Detroit’s potential.
Still, it’s hard to suss out precisely where Madonna stands on the topic her roots, given her recent dismissive remarks about Rochester Hills, the town where she actually grew up. A cynic might say she’s out to have it both ways: scorning her native suburban culture while embracing the concept of “Detroit” now that it’s finally cool.
But it’s hard to look a gift horse in the mouth, and if Madonna wants to dive into the comeback of Detroit — a place she continually referenced as “we” — she’ll be met with open arms, and should be. A city that has taken a fall “can only go up,” she said Thursday night, “and I’m very proud to be part of that going-up process.”
Daughter Lourdes Leon, in her second year at the University of Michigan, got her own personal tribute from Mom onstage.
Addressing the 18-year-old by her nickname Lola, Madonna gushed as she sat down with a ukulele for a winsome performance of Edith Piaf’s French pop classic “La Vie en Rose.” Lola, she said, was “the first person to teach me about love,” and to top it off, was better at singing and speaking French.
“Thank you, Lola,” she said. “You are my princess.”
The Material Girl’s Rebel Heart tour stop at Joe Louis Arena was a pure wowser of a show, an extravagant pop showcase only Madonna can pull off. While drawing heavily from this year’s “Rebel Heart” album, it pulled liberally from all corners of her career, and found Madonna dusting off hits and second-tier gems from her more than 30-year catalog.
There’s a reason legacy artists such as U2 and Madonna are still must-see concert acts, and part of it is the vast catalogs they have in their back pockets. They’ve put in decades of work and have a deep well of material, made up not only of those career-making global smashes everyone knows but those lesser known hits that are ripe for revisiting.
One of the great pleasures of U2’s 360 Tour was when the band pulled out the “Achtung Baby” album track “Ultraviolet (Light My Way)” during the encore, and Madonna had several of those moments Thursday. Some of her biggest hits were ignored – no “Like a Prayer,” no “Express Yourself,” no “Ray of Light” – while underappreciated fan favorites such as “True Blue” (reinvented as a campfire-style singalong), “Burning Up,” “Deeper and Deeper,” “Who’s That Girl,” “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore,” “Candy Shop” and “Frozen” were all given center stage. It was a night designed for and tailored to superfans, but it played to the masses. No one was left out of this dance party, and Madonna was a gracious host.
She shouted out Detroit early and often, announcing, “Motor City, are you ready to party? The hometown girl is back!” after opening the show with the highly-charged “Iconic.” Her father and daughter were in the audience and both got name checked, as did Dan Gilbert, whom she said she’s been proud to partner with in Detroit’s revitalization efforts. (Detroit’s Downtown Boxing Gym and the Empowerment Plan were also given props.) “Detroit is making a comeback, so watch out!” she said late in the show, rousing the crowd. “I said watch out, get excited! Come on!”
There was plenty to get excited about. Madonna’s team of dancers – the best in the business, hands down – were never less than thrilling, especially in one sequence where they bobbed up and down on flexible stilts like the swinging polecats in “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
As always, Madonna toyed with and tweaked themes of sexuality and religion, combining them in ways designed to provoke and push buttons. During “Holy Water,” dancers dressed in modified religious habits danced on stripper poles that doubled as crosses, and the performance built to a recreation of the Last Supper with Madonna sprawled out on the table as the main course. (A bit of “Vogue” was mixed into the song, with religious iconography flashing on the video screens during the song’s roll call of Old Hollywood stars.) That led to “Devil Pray,” where Madonna’s arms were bound in red rope as she begged for forgiveness from a priest-type figure.
As if sensing things were getting a bit heavy, next up was “Body Shop,” which unfolded in a playful recreation of a mechanic’s garage. “If anyone can understand the trials and tribulations of working at a body shop, it’s the Motor City,” Madonna said.
Where Madonna’s last tour, the MDNA outing, was a heavy and often violent affair, there was a lighthearted tone in the air on Thursday. And Madonna seemed as loose and freewheeling as ever, cracking jokes with the crowd and going off script several times.
Meanwhile, the 130-minute show was a pure delight to watch unfold. It was a masterful production, tightly choreographed and precise, a study in exactitude. Anytime your eyes fixed on one thing on stage, something else was happening or getting ready to happen at the other end. A long catwalk stretched nearly the length of the arena and lit up the venue, bathing it in pink while Madonna sang “La Vie En Rose” (in French! While playing the ukulele!) late in the night. (She dedicated the song to her daughter.)
“Like a Virgin,” which has been given numerous stylistic overhauls over the years, was reinvented Thursday as a mid-00s hip-hop jam — think Ciara’s “1, 2 Step” – and it worked amazingly well. The show’s undisputed highlight was the gypsy-style, Cuban flavored “Dress You Up,” which segued into “Into the Groove” and “Lucky Star.” “Pretty good for a small town girl from Detroit,” Madonna said, boasting the city “made me what I am today.” (She worked overtime to distance herself from the negative comments she made about her Michigan upbringing earlier this year, at one point even calling Michigan the “heart of America.”)
It was another heart on display the rest of the night. During the intro to “Rebel Heart,” Madonna proudly categorized herself as one, saying rebel hearts are “not always popular, but we will survive.”
Madonna’s been a survivor her entire career, and Thursday’s concert showed her rebel heart is still tick, tick, ticking away.