It was the longest wait I had for a foreign act, and like the rest of Madonna’s fans that trooped to the SM Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday night, the pop superstar tagged the “Unapologetic Bitch” and “Queen” appeared on stage close to midnight in a cage lowered from the ceiling of the arena as dancers clad in some Roman-inspired outfits marched and strutted on a cross-like stage that extended from end to end while the music blurred from giant speakers hung above the stage.
The crowd was visibly in awe, applauding as Madonna, started singing and dancing at the same time.
Finally, the “Queen” was on a performing mood and making her Filipino fans savoring the show that had them coughing up a big sum of money just to watch her in person.
Yes, the crowd estimated at 12,000 ignored the two Southeast Asian archbishops to their Roman Catholic flock to boycott her Manila and Singapore concert.
“This is my first time in the Philippines, motherfuckers!…You don’t mind if I swear, do you?…I’m here to take the city!” she greeted her cheering fans.
Fans cheered when she performed two of the numbers the Roman Catholic leaders have been anxious since her announcement of Rebel Heart’s world tour – “Holy Water” and “Devil Pray” – that made use of Catholic imagery like dancers dressed as nuns and priests suggestive of sex and religion.
No, Madonna wasn’t apologetic at all. And her act wasn’t meant to please the Catholic Church or any other Christian sect. She was performing for her adoring fans, this time Filipinos who have waited three long decades to watch her perform in person.
In an interview with the pressin September to promote the ongoing tour, Madonna explained her thought-provoking act.
“It’s in my DNA to take ideas and conventions and to challenge the norms, to question things, to turn them inside out and say, ‘But what if …?’ It’s not because I don’t respect people’s ideas and beliefs. I have ultimate respect for people’s ideas and beliefs. But people need to have their ideas and beliefs challenged, if only to make them stronger about what they believe in,” she said.
Madonna’s spiels were spiced with profanity, a big part of her ongoing tour.She repeatedly prodded her Filipino audience to reply, “Fuck, yeah!” to everything she did that pleased them. After receiving a crown as a gift from a fan, she boldly declared, “Nobody fucks with the Queen!”
In another spiel, she told a story which she later qualified as a joke about her Filipina trainer that went on to have sex with her boyfriend.
And whatever her bashers or haters say, the show was a spectacle and unparalleled in this part of the world. Her fans finally saw what they’ve only seen on YouTube or DVD.
She brought with her a troop of acrobatic dancers that could give Cirque du Soleil a run for their money, especially the number where they stood and swung in thin stilts on stage with another group of dancers on the floor.
Breathtaking was her use of the cross-shaped stage parts of which were able to move, appear and disappear with the use of hydraulics.
The nearly two hours of singing and dancing satisfied everyone and made them forget that they waited nearly two hours to watch Madonna sing her songs (mostly rearranged to electronic beat) like“Burning Up,” “True Blue,” “Like a Virgin,” “La Isla Bonita,” “Music,” “Material Girl,” “Holiday” and the surprise additions of “Who’s That Girl,” and “Like a Prayer.” No, on Wednesday night, she didn’t sing “Crazy For You” but did so on the following nigt.
Shahani Gania thought she became Madonna’s “Unapologetic Bitch” when she was chosen to perform with the “Queen.”
She said she was Super Starlet when asked by the pop queen.
“Do you have a hearing problem?” the 57-year-old singer jokingly asked Gania when the latter did not get her first question, “Do you feel like you just won a beauty contest?”
He was given a banana and a straw “for being courageous and brave”.
In every leg of the Rebel Heart Tour concert (here it was brought to the fans by Globe and Huawei), someone from the crowd is chosen to be Madonna’s “Unapologetic Bitch.” Gania joins the likes of Jean-Paul Gaultier, Stella McCartney, Ariana Grande, Idris Elba and Katy Perry.
When Madonna came out performing “Holiday” with a Filipino flag draped around her body, I knew this was her finale. And when she disappeared while in midair, the crowd didn’t scream for more. Maybe they thought it was too late and they had seen it all.
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