Yaaaaas: Madonna's Rebel Heart Tour
kicks off tonight in Montreal. Those lucky enough to glimpse peeks of the tour's rehearsals
at Long Island's Nassau Coliseum say it's nothing short of spectacular.
Is that any surprise? The Queen of Pop holds several records for the money she's banked on her North American and world tours, and if you've ever seen her live, you know why. A Madonna concert is a transcendent experience, a whirlwind of sonic and visual delights that makes fans think just as much as it makes them dance. Kind of ironic that the belle of MTV's video era turned out to be the greatest live performer of all time. Let's take a look back and rank all nine of Madonna's major tours until now.
9. The Virgin Tour (1985) Madonna's first tour of the U.S. and Canada was a stripped down, sloppy romp that critics hated. Who cares? Millions of young fans ate it up. It was the era of Madonna wannabes and they flocked to arenas donning big floppy bows in their hair and torn fishnet stockings on their legs. We watched as the 26-year-old pop sensation straddled a boom box and pranced around in a wedding dress singing hits from her first two albums including "Material Girl," "Holiday," and, of course, "Like A Virgin." Not that her live singing was so great. Yet. Standout performance: "Dress You Up"
8. Who's That Girl World Tour (1987) In which Madonna travels to Asia and Europe, too, showing the haters that she can do so much better the second time around. This tour, in support of her third studio album True Blue -- as well as the soundtrack for her feature film Who's That Girl? -- found the suddenly super-buff star using a larger stage, four huge video screens, better costumes, and improved choreography. She herself called the show a "theatrical multimedia spectacular." Something she'd perfect over the years. Standout performance: "Open Your Heart"
7. The MDNA Tour (2007) Plenty of sexy stuff on this world tour, but also a weird amount of guns and other violent imagery for no apparent reason. The Queen herself called the show "the journey of a soul from darkness to light," and it showed us an edgier, angrier Madonna. Fabulous costumes by Madonna's longtime costume designer Arianne Phillips added the playful touch we've all come to love. With $305-million in ticket sales, it became the second highest grossing tour ever by a female artist. Guess who holds the number one spot? Yep. Madonna. Standout performance: "I'm Addicted"
6. Drowned World Tour (2001) Madonna's first stage show after an eight-year break from touring found her traveling through North America and Europe. The singer had to make time for everything released since 1992's Erotica, which was three studio albums (Bedtime Stories, Ray of Light and Music) and the Evita soundtrack. Unfortunately that meant some of the early '80s hits got short shrift. Madonna made up for it by showing off a much stronger singing voice -- courtesy of voice lessons she took to prepare for Evita. She also demonstrated new electric guitar skills and even the ability of flight. Designer Jean-Paul Gaultier's witty takes on cowgirls, punk rock and urban fabulousness, and geisha girls (a kimono with a 52-foot-long wingspan!) added splashes of humor. With $78-million in ticket sales, the Drowned World Tour became the highest grossing concert tour by a solo artist at that time. But, that record would soon be broken. By Madonna. Standout performance: "Frozen"
5. Sticky & Sweet Tour (2008) Her eighth concert tour, which took her through North America and Europe, was another record breaker. The tour for 2008's Hard Candy album featured S&M imagery, 3-D animation, and an old school segment that found 50-year-old Madonna showing off her double Dutch jump-roping skills. Video imagery featured plenty of political fare - it was an election year, after all. After Michael Jackson died, Madonna tweaked the show to include a medley of her old friend's hits. It was the highest grossing tour of the year. With $408-million in ticket sales it did even better than the 2006 Confessions Tour, helping Madonna break her own record again. Standout performance: "Miles Away"
4. The Girlie Show (1993) We had a hunch a world tour in support of Erotica would be a sexy affair and the carnival-themed Girlie Show more than delivered. Plenty of burlesque, cabaret and dominatrix segments allowed Madonna to further explore her favorite subject. We also got to meet the Marlene Dietrich-inspired Madonna character "Dita" in the flesh. The set itself raised the bar with a runway extending from the main stage, as well as an elevated platform and several smaller balconies off the main stage. Standout performance: "Justify My Love"
3. Confessions Tour (2006) The first of three Madonna tours in a row that broke her own sales records. This world tour in support of 2005's Confessions On A Dance Floor found the singer once again condemned by the Catholic church. The cause? Madonna singing her classic ballad "Live To Tell" while hanging on a humongous mirrored cross wearing a crown of thorns. (She's never been subtle.) The whole show from start to finish was lavish with a spectacular set that featured three elevators, two runways, a turntable-shaped platform, and moving LED screens. The disco ball alone cost $2 million dollars. Standout performance: "Erotica"
2. The Re-Invention World Tour (2004) Studio album number nine American Life may have been mediocre, but this tour in support of it was top-notch. We got to see Madonna re-interpret some looks from past tours with the help of costume designer Arianne Phillips. Together the two gave new spins to the French Revolution, as well as the military and cabaret looks Madonna had previously sported in live shows. Twirling rifles, singing atop television sets, grooving with bagpipes -- is there anything the Queen do during this dizzying show? If you guessed singing one number in an electric chair -- you're wrong. She did that too. Standout performance: "Nobody Knows Me"
1. TheBlond Ambition World Tour (1990) The Gaultier-designed bullet bra. The faux ponytail. The elaborate set. The breathtaking choreography. Madonna exploring sexuality, Catholicism, and other lifelong fascinations live on stage. (Remember what a stir that masturbatory "Like A Virgin" performance caused?) Madonna's third concert tour easily steals the number one spot. Frankly, until the Blond Ambition came along, we had no idea what a live concert could be. This live show created the template for the modern-day Madonna concert. It marked the first time she broke her stage show into themed segments (in this case, Metropolis, Religious, Dick Tracy, Art Deco and Encore), which is how she's constructed her shows ever since, shaping each "act" according to her current interests and aesthetics. Standout performance: "Express Yourself"
How will the Rebel Heart Tour line up?