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Waiting for Madonna's "Rebel Heart Tour"

The "Rebel Heart Tour" is just round the corner, only days before kicking off in Montreal. Most of you probably already have tickets to one or more shows somewhere in America, Europe or Australasia. Before Madonna reveals to us another state-of-the-art concert spectacle, it might be a good idea to take a quick look at her previous tours and see how the Queen evolved into becoming the greatest touring superstar of all time. The "Rebel Heart Tour" is Madonna's tenth concert tour (ninth world tour). So here is a short reminder of her previous concert ventures.

"The Virgin Tour" 1985

Madonna's debut tour took her across the United States and to Canada, opening on 10 April in Seattle and finishing on 11 June 1985 in New York City. The only Canadian concert was a show in Toronto on 23 May. For the whole tour Madonna had one opening act – The Beastie Boys. The tour supported her first two albums "Madonna" and "Like A Virgin" and also included performances of Madonna's early soundtrack songs "Gambler," "Crazy For You" and  "Into The Groove." Although the tour was short with only 40 concerts, did not go to other continents (although that had been the plan), and did not have the strong theatrical vibe of the following tours (she only had two backup dancers and a small band headed by Patrick Leonard), the demand for tickets was so huge that the orginizers not only had to add more shows but also move them to bigger venues. Madonna had a set-up setlist for all concerts, performing altogether 13 songs, including only one non-single track "Over And Over." The tour solidified Madonna's "boy toy" image with costumes designed by Maripol.

As the highlight of the tour we picked up the performance of "Gambler," the song she has never performed since.

"The Who's That Girl Tour" 1987

This was Madonna's first world tour. By the time it kicked off, Madonna already had two number one albums and a new soundtrack to James Foley's movie in which she starred playing the role of Nikki Finn. The film flopped but the tour was a huge blockbuster success. It began on 14 June 1987 at Osaka Stadium in Japan and came to an e nd on 6 September the same year in Florence, Italy. Madonna was already too big a star to close her down to small in-door arenas, so most of the shows were played in huge stadiums with such attendance records as 131,000 in Parc de Sceaux in Paris. The tour visited 3 continents, 8 countries and 29 cities. 38 concerts were played. Shows opened with "Open Your Heart" and finished with "Holiday." Musical director was again Patrick Leonard. This tour was probably the first serious clash between Madonna and the Vatican. During "Papa Don't Preach" a photograph of Pope John Paul II (next to Ronald Reagan's) appeared on screens, which was a very telling moment especially when the tour hit Italy ("papa" is Italian for "pope") and the Pope himself urged to boycott the concerts (a tradition that would continue with the next tour).   

Here's Madonna performing "Into The Groove" on "The Who's That Girl Tour."

"Blond Ambition Tour" 1990

Madonna's most famous and even today by many regarded as her best tour. The tour is known to be one of the first which crossed the line between a concert and a theatrical production, bringing to mind more Broadway style performances rather than a conventional concert tour. It was also one of the first times an artist would use a headset microphone instead of a conventional hand mic for a big tour and preferred to wear underwear as outer wear (both ideas were later copied by Michael Jackson for his "Dangerous World Tour"). And of course, Jean Paul Gaultier's iconinc cone bras were the talk of the town. The tour was documented by the film "Truth Or Dare" ("In Bed With Madonna") which brought to the attention of a larger public such events as the Toronto incident when the police threatened to arrest Madonna for lewd behaviour during "Like A Virgin" and Madonna trying to seduce Antonio Banderas in Madrid. The Queen played 57 concerts in 10 countries, kicking off on 13 April 1990 in Japan and finishing on 5 August 1990 in France. The last show, in Nice, was recorded and broadcast by HBO, becoming the most watched program in the history of HBO at that time. During the tour Madonna performed songs from all of her albums, with particular emphasis on "Like A Prayer" and "I'm Breathless: Music From And Inspired By The Film 'Dick Tracy'." Due to Madonna's sexually provocative behaviour on stage and her use of religious imagery during the shows, the Vatican again called for a boycott, managing to successfully bring to cancellation one of the Rome concerts.

Here's "Holiday" from "Blond Ambition Tour."

"The Girlie Show World Tour" 1993

"The Girlie Show" was the first time Madonna toured South America and Australia. To promote her fifth studio album "Erotica" the Queen embarked on a 39-concert tournée beginning on 25 September 1993 at Wembley Stadium in London and finishing on 19 December 1993 at Tokyo Dome. The show which featured a reappearing mime, a homage to the classical Motown era, Marlene Dietrich and Tamara de Lempicka as well as a moving tribute to the victims of AIDS took Madonna to England, France, Israel, Turkey, United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Australia and Japan. A show in Sydney was filmed and aired by HBO and later released as "The Girlie Show – Live Down Under." Australian fans didn't know that it would take almost 23 years for Madonna to visit them again. And no one knew that it would be eight years before Madonna would hit the road again. After "The Girlie Show" Madonna went on a touring hiatus, although concerts were planned to support the "Bedtime Stories" and "Ray Of Light" albums, they never happened.

Here is one of Madonna's most beautiful ballads, "Rain" performed in Sydney in 1993.

"Drowned World Tour" 2001

When Madonna went back on the road, she was already a mother of two, a yoga practitioner and the Kabbalah student, happily married to Guy Ritchie and finally fulfilled as an actress after her Golden Globe awarded role in "Evita." At this point in her life, with new songs from "Ray Of Light" and "Music," eight years after "The Girlie Show Tour," the Queen appeared on stage at Barcelona's Palau Sant Jordi on the evening of 9 June 2001 to perform 21 songs, beginning with "Drowned World/Substitute For Love" and ending with "Music." The show was her first collaboration with Jamie King as a creative director. The whole tour had 47 concerts and was confined to Europe and the United States only. It wrapped up on 15 September 2001 in Los Angeles with a show initially scheduled for 11 September but moved due to terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C. Throughout the show Madonna played the roles of a punk girl, Japanese geisha and an American cowgirl. "Drowned World Tour" was the first time Madonna used backdrop videos, the most memorable of which was "Paradise (Not For Me)." She was criticised for not performing classic hits from the '80s but focusing solely on new music. The only two 1980s' singles featured on this tour were "La Isla Bonita" and "Holiday." And here we have for you the clip of the former.

"Re-Invention World Tour" 2004

Fortunately, Madonna's fans didn't have to wait another eight years for her next tour. Having released the "American Life" album a year earlier, Madonna began her "Re-Invention World Tour" on 24 May 2004 in Los Angeles. Although created primarily to support "American Life," this tour, unlike any other Madonna tour, can be called a greatest hits tour. Songs from all of her studio albums were performed, including such classics like "Crazy For You" and "Burning Up" not heard live for almost twenty years and a surprise rendition of "Evita"'s "Lament." The biggest surprise, however, was Madonna performing John Lennon's anthem "Imagine." Madonna played with the military theme of the "American Life" album cover and video for one of the sections and the underlying message of the whole show was world peace. Statistics: 56 concerts in 7 countries and the best selling tour of the year. The tour was documented by Jonas Åkerlund directed film "I'm Going To Tell You A Secret" which was released together with Madonna's first ever live album featuring the highlights of the tour. The final show in Lisbon was filmed but never officially released.

Here is a jazz rendition of "Deeper And Deeper" from "Re-Invention World Tour."

"Confessions Tour" 2006

In 2006 Madonna was definitely in a dance mood. And such was the theme of her new concert tour which opened with disco flavoured "Future Lovers" mixed with Donna Summer's dance floor classic "I Feel Love." "Confessions Tour" kicked off in Los Angeles on 21 May 2006 and was completed four months later in Tokyo. The tour marked the first time Madonna played to audiences in Eastern Europe with concerts in Prague and Moscow and was also her return to Japan after 13 years. Madonna came out from her giant disco ball altogether 60 times in 11 countries, breaking several records. Tickets for the first Japan show were sold out in just 5 minutes and the tickets for the Moscow concert were gone in four days, which was a record for Russia. Madonna sold out 6 evenings in Madison Square Garden and 8 in London's Wembley Arena. The most memorable performance of the tour was definitely "Live To Tell" during which Madonna was hanging on a cross wearing a fake thorn crown. With this performance she wanted to drive attention to the fate of children dying in Africa. It did catch the attention of the world media and renewed Madonna's long forgotten relationship with the Vatican. The hierarchs of Russia's Orthodox Church weren't pleased, either. When the tour ended, it was the biggest selling tour by a female artist at that time.

 Here is one of the classics perfomed during the "Confessions Tour," "Like A Virgin."

"Sticky & Sweet Tour" 2008/2009

"Sticky & Sweet Tour" is the longest tour of Madonna's career. It is also her highest grossing one. The tour was the first venture Madonna produced together with Live Nation. The aim was to support the 2008 album "Hard Candy" but the concert was full of classics as well, including an audience requested song throughout the 2008 leg of the tour, something Madonna had never done before. More than ever before she also experimented with folk music, taking with her on the road Kolpakov Trio, a Russian-gypsy group, to perform "La Isla Bonita / Pala Tute," "Doli Doli" and "You Must Love Me." The tour, unlike some of her previous endeavours, did not feature major controversies of the likes of "Confessions Tour" or "Blond Ambition Tour." It kicked off in Cardiff, Wales on 23 August 2008 and came to a conclusion in Tel Aviv, Israel on 2 September 2009. It was the first time in her touring career that Madonna decided to launch a second leg of the tour once the first was completed in Sao Paulo on 21 December 2008. A month later dates for new concerts in Europe were announced for the summer of 2009 and the renewed tour featured only slight changes in a setlist. One of the highlights of the second leg was Madonna's musical tribute to legendary Michael Jackson who passed away just days prior to her first 2009 concert in London. The tour grossed $408 million becoming the highest grossing tour for a female ever and the fifth highest grossing tour of all time. The record for the highest attendance at a single concert was broken in Warsaw, Poland with over 79 000 fans. With this tour Madonna came to many new, previously unvisited territories, including Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Chile.    

Here's "Miles Away." Enjoy!

"The MDNA Tour" 2012

Madonna's ninth tour began with very high expectations following her record breaking "Sticky & Sweet Tour" and her high profile performance at the Super Bowl XLVI Bridgestone Halftime Show. The new tour had to be massive. And it was. Produced together with Cirque du Soleil, it featured the biggest stage Madonna ever performed on and introduced a Golden Triangle area just in front of the stage, where some lucky fans could be so close to Madonna they could almost touch her. Each concert began in a cathedral setting with Madonna appearing in a confession box central stage. This one of the most epic concert openers in her career brought her new criticism of using religious imagery and combining it with the violence of the first section of the show. Other controversies were caused by Madonna's political statements, including the appearance of a swastika on the forehead of the French right-wing politician Marine Le Pen during the "Nobody Knows Me" video interlude, and Madonna's very vocal support to Russia's Pussy Riot. The tour opened in Tel Aviv on 31 May 2012 and concluded in Cordoba, Argentina on 22 December 2012. Madonna gave 88 concerts on 4 continents to an audience of more than 2 million. "The MDNA Tour" became the second highest grossing tour by a female, just after Madonna's own "Sticky & Sweet Tour." 

Here is "Vogue" from "The MDNA Tour."

And now we're just about to discover what Madonna has prepared for us for the "Rebel Heart Tour." Whatever it is, one thing we can be sure of: it is going to be another state-of-the-art spectacle from the greatest touring artist of all time.

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