With Madonna a day away from kicking off her Rebel Heart Tour in Montreal, we chuck our two cents in with the songs we most hope to find on the set list tomorrow night.
No one tours quite like Madonna – holding both first and second place for the highest grossing female touring act with her last two outings, the Material Girl’s legacy rests on her status as one of the most exciting live performers still working. Whilst she’s been dropping seemingly endless hints about the content of her latest show on Instagram and despite a few apparently entirely false set lists floating about, there’s still speculation as to which songs she’ll draw from her extensive back catalogue.
We count down our pick for five show stoppers Madge shouldn’t be planning to ignore:
1. “Like a Prayer”
Arguably the highlight of 2012’s MDNA Tour, “Like a Prayer” is one song that could stand another reinvention. Despite being one of M’s signature hits, “Like a Prayer” has only received the tour treatment four times – most notably during her infamous Blonde Ambition show where she donned a crucifix and danced through the chapel to her first of many attempts to meld sexuality and religion.
Although we all know Madonna isn’t a fan of repeating herself, “Like a Prayer” is a song worth giving another go. A good live show strikes a balance between the old and the new, the iconic and the surprising. Whilst no one could argue that Madge doesn’t create a fantastic tour, it’s certainly true to say that she’s been guilty of staying away from her biggest hits in the past. Not this time please M, give us “Like a Prayer” and “Living for Love” back-to-back and do something incredible with those matching gospel mid-8s.
2. “Take a Bow”
Infamous for only ever having been performed once, and never on tour, “Take a Bow” is one of Madonna’s most underrated number 1s. A fan favorite and in-keeping with the heartache that permeates ‘Rebel Heart’, “Take a Bow” feels like a must this time around.
Audiences in general tend to underestimate Madonna’s vocal prowess so an understated ballad like this Babyface produced throwback would go down a treat. Subtle, understated and deadly nostalgic, “Take a Bow” is the antithesis of everything Madonna’s managed so far this year and the show would become all the better for its inclusion.
When Madonna came back after the birth of her first child and a four year studio album hiatus, no one was expecting the stunning and haunting “Frozen”. Although “Ray of Light” may have made more sense as a lead single from its eponymous album, Madonna defied expectation once again and dropped it’s calmer cousin first.
“Frozen” has seen a handful of outings on Madonna tours, but there’s no reason to discount its inclusion from the Rebel Heart show. Just check out the hauntingly simple performance above from the Reinvention Tour. Heartfelt, moving and dramatic – “Frozen” is Madonna at her best.
Think Madonna and you inevitably think of dance, which would hopefully lead to “Music” being a natural choice for any Madonna performance. Despite being her last US number 1 (in 2001…), Madge foolishly neglected to add it to the MDNA tour, despite it being a far more logical encore than the largely forgettable “Celebration”.
“Music” has had its fair share of strong showings, cropping up on four consecutive tours. What’s most exciting about the track though, is its ease of re-imagination – between the disco version on the Confessions tour and the Kevin Antunes remix as featured during Sticky and Sweet, “Music” stands the test of reinvention better than most and is typically the highlight of Madonna’s live show.
Let’s be realistic – neither of “Hung Up’s” live performances since the Confessions tour have worked especially well. There was the borderline unlistenable rock remix from Sticky and Sweet and the wholly forgettable MDNA version, proving that if Madonna plans to nod to the ‘Confessions on a Dance Floor’ era she may be better off looking elsewhere.
So why not go for the album’s shining jewel (and contender for lead single, had there been any justice in the world) and give “Sorry” another whirl? The disco throwback slots right in amongst the bitter break-up tone of tracks like “Unapologetic Bitch” and “Heartbreak City” (both rumored to appear on the set list) and it’d be pretty fantastic to see Madge break out the cage dancing again.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter too much which songs Madonna’s chosen to deliver on her sell-out 10th world tour, the devil is always in the detail with Madge. We can look forward to her usual blend of religion, sex and dance with – if the rumors are to be believed – a tribute to Freida Kahlo and a handful of numbers inspired by the roaring 20s.
What more could you ask for?