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Madonna’s Rebel Heart tamed in Singapore

The queen of pop performed a modified first segment for her maiden concert in Singapore, after the gig’s organiser confirmed that she would not be performing her song Holy Water.

SINGAPORE: She might be on her Rebel Heart Tour, but when it came to meeting the Media Development Authority (MDA) guidelines the Queen of Pop was a little less than rebellious.

For the Singapore leg of her tour on Sunday (May 28), Madonna performed a modified opening segment of her tour, cutting out the songs Iconic, Holy Water and Devil Pray before launching into the second segment. The cut songs are usually performed in the first of four segments of the concert, also known as the Joan of Arc / Samurai section.

The video introduction of the concert was also modified, with the cross-adorned portion of the staves held by dancers removed.

Fans still got to see the rest of the songs in the segment, where dancers clad in samurai-influenced costumes performed with the singer, and where she performed with a guitar. 


Fans got to see Madonna perform with a guitar in the modified opening segment. (Photo: Ngau Kai Yan)

MDA had previously stated that Madonna would not be allowed to perform the segment because it contained “religiously-sensitive content which breach our guidelines". Organiser Live Nation Lushington confirmed before the concert that the singer would not be performing the banned segment.

Even with some songs removed, Madonna erred on the side of caution, filtering her language until about halfway through the show, when she asked fans if she could swear. 

Fans in Singapore also got to listen to her sing Crazy For You live. The song has only been performed on this tour one other time – in Manila. Before that, it was last performed live in 2004, according to concert website setlist.fm. 


Madonna performed a total of 18 songs in Singapore as she did with other tour stops. (Photo: Ngau Kai Yan)

There were some changes towards the end of the gig as well. Madonna started her encore song Holiday without a Singapore flag, replacing it with a flag with a peace sign. She had come under fire last week for using the Philippine flag during her concert Manila and earlier in the month, sparked ire in mainland China after she draped a Taiwanese flag over her shoulders for her performance in Taipei.

Still, the M18-rated show saw a topless flapper dancer for the song Candy Shop, just as it was done for other stops of her tour.

And fans still got about 18 songs for Madonna’s first concert in Singapore. The singer has been performing between 18 to 20 songs throughout her tour, not including one line from the song Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend.

Fans had mixed reactions to the edited set list. Diane S, a banker, said that the concert was “too short”, while her friend Emmie said “they shouldn’t stifle creativity”.


"If it's not controversial, it's not Madonna," fans said. (Photo: Ngau Kai Yan)

Meanwhile, Malaysian couple Cheryl and Peter said that the concert definitely met their expectations “because it’s Madonna”. They added that having controversial segments was “expected” – “if it’s not in, it's not Madonna”.

However, Japanese businessman Tsukamota said in Japanese that he felt the concert was a normal length and that the experience was good.

Before her concert on Sunday, controversy surrounded Madonna in Singapore after the Catholic Church called its followers to not support those who denigrate or insult religion. Other church leaders in Singapore also later aired their concerns to Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, while the Anglican Church also weighed in on Saturday, calling for church members to "avoid everything that darkens and defiles our hearts and minds".

Organisers said nearly 25,000 fans turned up for the show, which lasted two hours.