Madonna performed for a sold-out audience at Chicago’s United Center on Monday evening, and judging by comments from people leaving the show, it was the best concert Madonna had given in Chicago during her 30-year performing career. Madonna brought out the best in herself and her fans. Madonna made performers like Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, and Lady Gaga seem like “Beta” pop stars, and that’s saying a lot, since all the mentioned performers are great.
Despite rumors to the contrary, Madonna still does a lot of choreography in the show and barely seemed stiff, although it appeared that she almost lost her balance again during Living For Love, but — thankfully — didn’t fall down the stairs. She still dances with a lot of energy, but that’s not what thrilled the audience the most. It was Madonna the vocalist that ruled the show.
Madonna opened the show with Iconic from her Rebel Heart album. She then went into B***h I’m Madonna and got the whole crowd clapping along when singing Burning Up. Then, there was the obligatory blasphemy segment of the night with Madonna performing Holy Water, which doesn’t make reference to the type of moisture you may think. She even added in some stripper nuns with white panties before singing some bars of Vogue and then recreating The Last Supper with herself as the main feast. While it’s easy to see why some could be offended by this, Madonna delivered it with a huge sense of irony and self-parody.
While the audience was impressed with the first part of the show, they didn’t catch on fire until the second act, when Madonna beautifully sang True Blue. There were some longtime fans in the audience with tears coming out of their eyes. She then sang Deeper And Deeper from her 1992 album Erotica and even though she displayed some impressive dance moves, her powerful singing is what really made the performance come alive.
Madonna then fought with a dancer on a staircase while singing HeartbreakCity, a forgettable track from Rebel Heart. However, when she switched to Love Don’t Live Here Anymore from 1984’s Like A Virgin, she brought the audience to their feet just by belting out the lyrics. Madonna then performed the Like A Virgin title track very playfully, almost like she was imitating herself from 30 years ago.
By the time Madonna performed La Isla Bonita, the audience wasn’t only on fire, but exploding with joy. She did a slow version of Who’s That Girl, which had fans lighting their phone flashlights all over the arena. Perhaps the night’s best performance was HeartbreakCity, the song that followed. Even though it’s a relatively new song (and wasn’t a huge hit), the audience still knew the words and sang along as Madonna’s voice was filled with the amount of raw emotion and intensity rarely seen throughout her career.
Madonna thrilled the audience by bringing back a jazzy version of Music and Material Girl, which had her throwing dancers in tuxedos down a photo slide that must have cost several thousand dollars to make. She then talked about marriage (“It goes downhill from here!”) and then stunningly sang Edith Piaf’s La Vie En Rose.
Madonna brought a Britney Spears clone on stage during Unapologetic B***h before closing the show with the album version of Holiday while wearing the American flag. It was a night Madonna reconnected with her longtime fans, some who doubted that she still “had it.” As expected, Madonna proved that age is just a number. More importantly, however, Madonna proved that her she can thrill people with her voice just as much as she can with all the usual bells and whistles from her shows.