Madonna’s Rebel Heart Tour, which came to the SAP Center in San Jose Monday night, is a definite mixed bag, with almost as much going for it as against it.
The positives have to do almost exclusively with the visuals, which includes the set design, choreography and costuming. The images, as with past Madonna tours, can be perplexing, confusing and disturbing. Yet, they are also often quite intriguing. That’s enough to save this tour from the dust bin, lifting it from bad to mediocre.
The negatives? Well, how much time do you have? The shortlist includes the song selection, the reliance on iffy remixes and a general lack of purpose to the production.
All of that had a huge impact on the 12,500-plus fans who turned out on Monday. Their enthusiasm level started out strong, but dwindled as the night progressed.
Part of that had to do with how late Madonna took the stage — more than two hours after the scheduled show time. Not surprisingly, the crowd looked absolutely exhausted toward the end — and not in a “that show was so much fun” type of way.
An even bigger issue was the set list, which focused too strongly on newer material instead of the hits. Now, I don’t have a problem with new material — just bad new material, which is the kind Madonna is serving up these days.
The 57-year-old Michigan native made her entrance around 10:15 p.m., appearing in an interesting medieval setting to belt out the uninspiring Iconic, from this year’s Rebel Heart, Madonna’s 13th studio release. The eyes remained entertained, even if the ears weren’t, as Madonna and her sizable cast of dancers cast a Far East vibe on the marginal new album cut, Bitch I’m Madonna. In all, it was a pretty lackluster way to start the two-hour-plus show.
She then zoomed back for Burning Up, the popular single from her self-titled debut of 1983. But she refused to play the wonderful dance-pop tune straight, instead deciding to grab an electric guitar and rock it up a bit. It was one of many remixes that simply didn’t work in the show.
The result was often infuriating. It’s bad enough that Madonna wanted to stock the set list with subpar new songs. It’s worse that she decided to sabotage many of the old fan favorites with new arrangements. Yeah, thanks for making it hard for us to sing along, Madonna.
This tour needs a better game plan. Madonna rushed in the wrong spots, sowing together unsatisfying snippets of some of her best-known offerings (such as Dress You Up and Lucky Star) when a better choice would have been to play the whole songs. Then she’d dawdle when the exact opposite approach was called for, such as when she allowed the wind to go out of the sails of the main-set closer, Unapologetic Bitch, as she chatted with an audience member. It was one of the most anticlimactic main set closers I’ve ever seen.
Still, Madonna exhibited plenty of star power. And the visuals were often interesting enough to carry the moment. Barely. But we’d hoped for so much more.
Source: San Jose Mercury News Entertainment