Crowds lap up superstar's stunning performance at Asia World-Expo as Madonna announces she's starting a revolution.
Bauhinias, breasts and bravado: welcome to Madonna's first Hong Kong show. “It's the year of the monkey, right?” she asks, appearing momentarily sweet and innocent.
In her tightly choreographed show, there's little room for improvisation. But after courting controversy in Taiwan last week for her politically charged message, she is willing to taunt an expectant and enraptured local crowd. “We're starting a revolution, we're fighting for what you believe in. So if you're a Rebel Heart, put your f**king monkey hands together,” she proclaims.
It's a wry nod, almost too subtle for a megastar more accustomed to thrusting her groin in the face of vagaries. Then the crimson bauhinia appears, draped across the shoulders of a shirtless dancer.
The crowd erupts and Madonna appears to have become the Messiah. It's the parting shot at the end of a night of Madonna asserting her relevance and cultural immortality amid a set of relentless dance floor anthems spanning three decades, combined with raunchy, religious iconography.
With 32 years in the industry, ten mammoth world tours and 13 albums under her belt, the undisputed Queen of Pop had yet to indulge a Hong Kong crowd on a city stage.
Tickets for tonight's appearance sold out within 30 minutes – the fastest-selling concert in Hong Kong's history, prompting another Asia World-Expo date to be added to the Rebel Heart Tour.
When she disappeared offstage to change costume, the dancers came into their own in beautifully choreographed routines.
Whether you think she's a trendsetter-turned-tagalong, or zeitgeist-mining genius, there's no denying that without Madonna, live music wouldn't be what it is. Extravagant dance routines, a backdrop of pyrotechnics, cutting-edge visuals, and a carousel of costume changes are now the modus operandi for major popstars worldwide.
In these uninhibited times, it's easy to overlook her achievements. A forebearer and sort of fairy godmother for the #freethenipple era; an age where kink and nudity can be artistic expression and political awareness, and a pop star can be simultaneously object of lust and pillar of revolution.
The prolific pop star's first performance in Hong Kong proves that the longer something is withheld, the more rabidly it is desired and enjoyed.
The show culminated in a bacchanalia of Great Gatsby proportions, featuring chameleonic dancers suddenly shimmering and swinging in flapper gear. Music and Candy Shop were given a roaring 20s makeover while Madonna – somewhere in the glittering melee – was momentarily outshone by a topless dancer evoking “black pearl” Josephine Baker.
Taking to a vintage microphone, the singer suddenly reigned in the fiesta with a powerful solo rendition of Edith Piaf's La Vie en Rose, oozing with romantic languor. No one was allowed to catch their breath for long as the revellers steamed on towards the pulsing grand finale, Unapologetic Bitch.
Encore and closer Holiday was a free-form freak-out of lights, colour, feathers, streamers, and that fluttering, red flag. It was both parting shot and starting gun: Hong Kong finally got to bask in Madonna's glow, but it was far too much fun to be a one-night stand.
"The night is young and the show has just begun."
Madonna's fans in Thailand have waited for over three decades to hear these words from their idol, and the Queen of Pop did not disappoint as she made her Thailand debut last night.
The legendary singer hit the stage in Bangkok’s Impact Arena with her sold-out Rebel Heart Tour concert, and fans have not stopped raving about the night on social media.
"It was a concert where people rarely took photos with their phone because they had to watch it all the time. They could not miss just one second. I wasn't a fan, but I was hypnotized. I was tearing up because she was so funny on stage," user Hayashi Sgz Wachi wrote on a Madonna's Facebook fan page.
"She was beautiful. Her dancing was on point. But she included many songs from the Rebel Heart album and did not bother to please her harcore fans with her old hits. It was so weird because people around me who have definitely never listened to her new songs did not complain at all. They just stood and watched her for the entire two hours,” the admin of the fan page Madonna Thailand wrote.
"Queen of Pop" Madonna on Thursday rocked fans in Taipei at a lavish concert in which the diva reeled out hits such as "Like a Virgin" and "Material Girl," before ending the night on a high note draped in Taiwan's national flag.
The concert, Madonna's first ever concert in Taiwan, opened with dancers appearing on the stage carrying large gold pikes as Madonna descended onto the stage in a large metal cage. The singer wore a black and red Samurai-inspired outfit and sang "Iconic" to rapturous applause.
"Taipei, are you with me?" the American singer-songwriter greeted her electrified fans at the Taipei Arena.
"Hello Taiwan, are you ready?" Madonna again greeted her thousands of fans when performing "Burning Up" with an electric guitar.
She also said "Hello. Thank you," and yelled "I love you" in Mandarin to the roaring crowd.
At the end of the concert, Madonna draped herself in the Republic of China (Taiwan) flag while performing the encore song "Holiday." At every stop on the tour, she performs "Holiday" with the national flag of the country she is in.
The 140-minute show, the first of two by the singer in Taiwan, did not begin until 10:15 p.m. Thursday. That set a new record at the Taipei Arena, as no concert has ever begun later than 10:15 p.m. at the venue.
Organizers of the concert are expected to pay a large sum of money for overtime - estimated at around NT$3.5 million (US$ 105,901) or above.
Madonna's second concert will be held Saturday, also at the Taipei Arena.
Forty-two year-old office worker Sam Lin (林聖賢), who has been a fan of Madonna for three decades, said the singer has had a great impact on him.
"Madonna is true to herself and is not afraid to show herself," said Lin, who wore a bright pink dress and top modeled after a costume Madonna wore during her first concert tour in the 1980s.
August Chen (陳嘉銘), a 43-year-old Indonesian Chinese who has lived in Taiwan for 18 years, was clad in a red bullfighter costume to echo the matador theme of Madonna's concerts on this tour.
It was his fourth time attending a Madonna concert, Chen told CNA prior to the concert.
Enthusiastic fans on Thursday flocked to Madonna's first ever concert in Taiwan, expressing their excitement to finally see the pop legend in person.
Office worker Sam Lin (林聖賢) wore a bright pink dress and hat, which he decorated with fake fruit and other objects, to the "Rebel Heart" concert at the Taipei Arena to pay tribute to the singer, whom Lin had been a fan of for three decades.
The costume, which he made by himself over a period of four months, was modeled after a costume that Madonna wore during her first concert tour in the 1980s, the 42-year-old said.
"Madonna is true to herself and is not afraid to show herself," Lin said, adding that the singer has had a great impact on him.
August Chen (陳嘉銘), an Indonesian Chinese who has lived in Taiwan for 18 years, was clad in a red bullfighter costume to echo the matador theme of Madonna's concerts on this tour.
Chen, who purchased a ticket in the rock zone, said this is his fourth time attending a Madonna concert.
Prior to the first of her two concerts at the Taipei Arena, Madonna posted "Take a Bow Tai-Pei" on her Facebook page to greet her fans.
The diva is expected to hit the stage after 9 p.m.↑ Back to top of page