Madonna takes control in San Jose

It’s really hard to determine exactly which part of Madonna’s “Rebel Heart” tour, which hit San Jose’s SAP Center on Monday night, was the best.

Was it when she emerged in a cage, lowered from the ceiling, then pranced with dancers carrying big crosses and dressed like medieval Mongolian warriors, to open the show with “Iconic”?

Was it when she and her female dancers, attired like nuns from the head up, and below, wearing black bras and white panties with ruffles on their bums, slithered like strippers on poles on “Holy Water”? (The number also had an awesome, “Last Supper”-like banquet.)

Was it when she soloed on “Like a Virgin,” accompanied only by percussion, on a runway in the center of the arena, doing loose and soulful dance moves reminiscent of Michael Jackson?

Was it when she did a Spanish section, in toreador garb, with rallying bulls on “Living for Love,” followed by “La Isla Bonita,” then continued the theme (after a costume change into a long, flowing dress), with Latin-infused takes on “Dress You Up,” “Into the Groove” and “Lucky Star”?

Was it when she pushed her tuxedoed, top-hatted dancers down a slanted platform during “Material Girl”?

Was it when she strummed a guitar during “Rebel Heart” as numerous amazing drawn and painted images of her created by artists were projected onto huge screens at the back of the stage?

Or was it when she sang the line “Do you know the way to San Jose” and told the capacity multi-generational crowd, “It’s so good so see my old friends and my young friends” and “You’re the best audience in the world”?

The nearly two-and-a-half hour show, which started late at 10:15 p.m., was a visual and aural feast from start to finish.

At 57, the true blue (she did a breezy version of “True Blue” amid stacked tires under a crescent moon on a set that looked like a service station, and a whole car was pulled out for “Body Shop”), icon shows no signs of slowing down.

After 30-plus years in the business and holding the Guinness World Record for best-selling female artist of all time, she sounds and looks fantastic, from her gorgeous flowing mane to the high heels on which she moved with nary a misstep.

While the set list leaned heavily on 2015’s “Rebel Heart” songs, she did mix things up a bit, with “Frozen” from 1998’s “Ray of Light.”

As always, she was wonderfully in control, provoking with wild images addressing big themes: sex, religion, power and violence, and commanding her fans to lead, not follow.

This time, she tacked on happiness, and even smiled.

She’s not above having a good time, either. Decked out in stars and stripes, she encored with the anthemic “Holiday,” and exited the stage not unlike the way she entered, via a trapeze bar.

Leslie Katz
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Leslie Katz

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