Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015 | 8:06 p.m.
Madonna’s fans in Las Vegas have already dealt with the sticker shock of her expensive “Rebel Heart Tour” tickets for when it arrives Saturday at MGM Grand Garden Arena, but are they prepared for a naked Mike Tyson as an angry caged man?
This is Madonna’s 10th worldwide concert tour and supports her 13th studio album, “Rebel Heart.” In all, she’ll roam the globe to 64 cities, including her first visit to Australia in more than 20 years.
The tour began in Montreal on Sept. 9, and continues through Europe and Asia before wrapping in Brisbane, Australia, in March. It’s said to be the most expensive concert tour of the year for her production expenses and tickets. Madonna’s average hits $450, while Taylor Swift’s “1989 World Tour” landed at an average ticket price of $305.
Saturday’s MGM Grand show with Lunice as her opening act is the most expensive to date with an average price of $949.21. All VIP packages were sold out, with only 212 tickets, some as high as $3,100, remaining in resale 72 hours before show time, with just a handful of direct box office tickets available.
By Oct. 1, Madonna had raked in nearly $21 million from 10 concerts watched by 132,000 fans in only seven cities. Her American leg ends Oct. 29 in San Diego, then she resumes in Europe as of Nov. 4 in Cologne, Germany.
But weekend chatter won’t be about the dollars and sense. It will surely focus on the opening video of the glamorously dressed controversial singer partying with bare-bodied men while our hometown boxing champ talks to himself inside a barred cage.
Every member of the audience will wonder if he’s naked! Mike is a guest vocalist on her “Rebel Heart” song “Iconic.” He says that when he shot the video, “It didn’t seem that intense, but then you watch it and go, ‘Whoa!’ I need to be tamed, man. It’s like National Geographic.”
Madonna created the nearly two-hour show with Jamie King, who directed the two Michael Jackson productions here for Cirque du Soleil. She has 19 dancers performing top-tier choreography in her cast, plus two trainers and two nutritionists and estheticians on tour to keep her fit and healthy.
As is to be expected, Madonna will be controversial pushing the limits of her religious angst. She’ll shock with the image of sexy nuns pole dancing on crosses and dancers wrapped in Jewish garb for the acoustic “Devil Pray.” The mood lightens with a conga line through the audience with ticketholders encouraged to join in as it snakes around the arena.
One minute her dancers are dressed as medieval executioners on the catwalk for “Iconic” and the next as geishas and mock martial-arts combat for “Bitch, I’m Madonna.” For “Holy Water,” the dancers are dressed as nuns but in hot pants and bikini tops for a re-enactment of “Last Supper.” The dancers are dressed as auto mechanics in “Body Shop,” which “stars” a 1965 Ford Falcon.
Fans will jump up to join in on “Vogue,” “Material Girl” and “Like a Virgin” and respect her own electric-guitar work on “Burning Up” and her ukulele strumming on “True Blue.”
Madonna is 57 years old, but she proves that she can outlast pop stars 20 years younger with her athleticism up and down a spiral staircase dropped from the rafters. There will be audience gasps as she pushes one of her doomed dancers right off the second-story top after he chases her up and down the stairs.
The envelope is truly pushed with the mashup mix of “S.E.X.” and “Justify My Love” with eight dancers displaying various sex positions on four beds. One moment, Madonna Louise Ciccone appears as a bullfighter and the next in another Spanish outfit for a gypsy medley of old hits.
The intensity continues with seven dancers swaying back and forth on 20-foot poles over the audience with Madonna in a 1920s flapper dress for “Music” and “Candy Shop.”
I’m not sure, but can only guess, why a member of the audience dragged up onstage will be presented with a banana during “Unapologetic Bitch.” If she repeats Saturday night her previous tour stop closings, she wears very little to be draped inside the Stars and Stripes flag as the most-ever tonnage of confetti fires from above.
There’s no doubt that this is a spectacular and highly creative rock production. The one-named singer can still start trends at this age! Critics have given her five-star compliments and reported that she remains “as provocative as ever” but that the most shocking aspect was not the expected divisive imagery and performances, but that Madonna ”is having such a grand time up onstage that she smiles throughout.”
The Boston Herald noted that “Madonna’s visions can’t be replicated by her imitators.” The Montreal Gazette observed that “Rebel Heart Tour’s tone became more carefree since Madonna seemed to be “enjoying herself sharing a sense of self-confidence and a sense of play.”
There’s no question that after three decades in the spotlight, Madonna remains the Catholic-obsessed queen of pop .The New York Village Voice went even further describing her as “pop’s patron saint of revolution in action,” with Rolling Stone commenting, “She hasn't reached so far onstage, musically or emotionally, since her 2001 Drowned World extravaganza.”
Here’s the representative setlist of her show as of September, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that Madonna will perform all or in this order at MGM Grand on Saturday night: “Iconic,” “Bitch, I’m Madonna,” “Burning Up,” “Holy Water” / “Vogue,” “Devil Pray,” “Messiah” (video interlude), “Body Shop,” “True Blue,” “Deeper and Deeper,” “Heartbreak City” / “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore,” “Like a Virgin,” “S.E.X.” / “Justify My Love” (video interlude), “Living for Love” (remix), “La Isla Bonita,” “Dress You Up” / “Into the Groove” / “Everybody” / “Lucky Star” (medley), “Who’s That Girl,” “Rebel Heart,” “Illuminati” (video interlude), “Music” / “Candy Shop,” “Material Girl,” “La Vie en Rose,” “Unapologetic Bitch” and “Holiday.”
Fans couldn’t care less about the high-priced tickets, but they will walk out onto the Strip wondering if that really was a naked Mike Tyson inside the opening-cage number! The words “don’t miss this show” never had more powerful and provocative meaning.
Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
Follow Las Vegas Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.
MGM Grand, a AAA Four Diamond resort, offers 5,044 rooms and suites.
MGM Grand features KÀ by Cirque du Soleil; Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club; and world-class entertainment at the Grand Garden Arena and Hollywood Theatre.
The resort offers signature restaurants by celebrity chefs including Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak, Emeril Lagasse’s New Orleans Fish House, Wolfgang Puck’s Bar & Grill and Michelin three star and Forbes Five Star restaurant, Joël Robuchon.
As part of its ongoing “Grand Renovation,” MGM Grand has remodeled all rooms and suites in its main tower and is adding several new experiences to its lineup including Hakkasan Las Vegas Restaurant and Nightclub, a new upscale dining/nightlife concept (coming in April 2013).
MGM Grand also features a state-of-the-art, non-smoking conference center, the Grand Spa, Cristophe Salon, "CSI: The Experience" and an inviting pool complex featuring the tantalizing daylife of Wet Republic.
Upscale accommodations include The Mansion, an exclusive hotel within the hotel; the luxurious two-story SKYLOFTS at MGM Grand; and The Signature at MGM Grand, a luxury all-suite, non-gaming hotel located adjacent to the main resort.