Madonna's performs 'Rebel Rebel' in tribute to Bowie
'Thanks for having us Tulsa!'

Madonna leaves lasting impression after first concert in Oklahoma

If Madonna wanted to make a splash with her first performance in Oklahoma, she certainly did that.

The Queen of Pop put on a highly energetic, fun, shocking, musically impressive show Thursday night at the BOK Center. If your jaw wasn’t on the floor, you were grinning as much as she was.

Though with a setlist heavy on her newest album, it left me wanting more. With a start time at 10:30 p.m., I don’t know if I could have handled it.

Nine songs of the 22-song setlist were from 'Rebel Heart,' Madonna’s 13th studio album released last year to critical praise and commercial success. Many of the fans near me sang along to several of those new songs, which dominated the setlist early on.

Songs like 'Iconic,' 'Bitch, I’m Madonna' and 'Holy Water,' which were three of the four opening songs, all from her latest album. Seeing her perform the songs live made me like them more than listening to the album version. Her voice was sometimes muddled early on, but it was strong and steady. She even strapped on a guitar for the last song in that opening set, 'Burning Up,' the second single she ever released.

That early group also showed some of the diversity in her style over her career. With the new songs, she shows that she’s at least keeping up with trends in music, with heavy electronic music. But 'Burning Up' showed us a hard-rocking, rock-yelling Madonna with a Flying V guitar, not playing face-melting solos, but playing, which is more than most pop stars will do.

Later, more of her well-known hits were played, but Madonna altered them so that they felt new, despite some being more than 30 years old. 'True Blue' was performed acoustic with Madonna playing the ukulele. 'Like a Virgin' was broken down into a minimalist, bass heavy song with the lyrics and tone intimately familiar with every person in the nearly-full room. 'Music' started off jazzy in a ’20s speakeasy style. 'Material Girl' could have come straight out of Baz Luhrmann’s 'The Great Gatsby.'

Her most musically impressive song of the night - the moment when fans got to really experience her untouched talent - was a cover of 'La vie en rose,' just her singing and playing a ukulele. Her vocal prowess was in the spotlight, hitting and sustaining higher notes in her range. And it being the next to last song before the encore and considering she had been singing and dancing and changing clothes all night, it was that much more impressive.

Whether you liked the music, Madonna put on an impressive and sometimes shocking stage show that was thrilling. Nearly two dozen dancers were dazzling with impressive choreography that bordered sometimes on Cirque du Soleil-level acrobatics. Strapped to flexible poles about 20 feet long, they would sway back and forth almost enough to touch the crowd. Three dancers strapped to a vertical video board sprung and danced all over the stage. It was dazzling, but it didn’t take the focus away from Madonna. Then you have nuns in lingerie pole dancing, a re-creation of da Vinci’s 'The Last Supper,' sometimes people wearing less than a thread. There were shocking, clutch-the-pearls moments, but it’s exactly what you would expect from Madonna.

Stages changed with the costumes four times, each sticking to a different theme, each with its own story. It was put together with thought, which again seems like an effort many pop stars don’t make today.

For most of the fans who have waited 30 years to see the pop icon in their hometown, it was worth the wait. Hopefully Thursday night’s warm reception will ensure that Oklahoma will see her again.

Review by Jerry Wofford at


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