Music Blu-ray Review: Madonna - Rebel Heart Tour

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From Eagle Vision comes a must for Madonna fans, Rebel Heart Tour—a live concert film documenting the controversial 2015-2016 tour seen by over a million attendees. The show features most of the songs found on Madonna's most recent album, Rebel Heart, so don't expect a 'greatest hits'-style show. That said, don't fret if you're not familiar with her new work though, the Rebel Heart Tour is an entertainment extravaganza with nary a dull moment. While it's been a while since Madonna was capable of cranking out instant pop classics, the new songs are so dynamically staged that the energy and invention never lags.

And there are hits scattered liberally throughout, just don't be surprised when they aren't immediately recognizable. Songs like "True Blue," "Vogue," and "Like a Virgin" are reinterpreted with excitedly fresh new arrangements. Madonna is well known for taking chances with the presentation of her vintage material, always careful to keep her concerts from becoming nostalgia shows. The "video interlude" segments are the only moments where the excitement level noticeably dips, but while Madonna is onstage she's in strong form.

Also strong is Eagle Rock's audio/visual specs, with a crystal-clear 1080i transfer and boisterous DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix (also available: uncompressed LPCM 2.0 stereo). Bonus features include "An Excerpt from 'Tears of a Clown'" (15 minutes)—an exclusive fan club show from Melbourne, Australia—and a performance of "Like a Prayer" not included in the main concert for some reason. These bonuses are also included with the iTunes digital version of Rebel Heart Tour.

The Rebel Heart Tour Blu-ray also includes a CD with fourteen live cuts representing highlights from the show. This much-appreciated bonus disc is also part of the DVD edition. However, for the truly committed, there's a separate two-disc CD (available as digital download, too) containing the entire concert (minus the three "video interlude" segments on the Blu-ray). Your level of Madonna fandom will dictate your need to own both.

Eagle Vision frequently includes these "bonus" CDs with their live concert releases, a welcome inclusion for those of us who spend more time listening to music as opposed to watching longform video. With numerous past releases, notably titles by the likes of classic rockers Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, The Who, and more, the Blu-ray and DVD packages included the entire concert spread over two discs. Rebel Heart Tour is the first one I've personally encountered from Eagle Rock that adopts the "highlights" CD approach, with the full live album only available as a separate purchase. The downside is, obviously, fans cannot snag all of it in one place for one price.

That relatively minor conundrum aside, the Rebel Heart Tour Blu-ray/CD combo pack will likely satisfy Madonna fans as a document of the massive-scale tour.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is film and music. His new jazz album Good Merlin is now available.

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