Can it really be more than 25 years since Madonna launched her Blonde Ambition tour in Houston? In 1990 she appeared before a sellout crowd at The Summit (now Lakewood Church) in a Jean Paul Gaultier cone bra and an I Dream of Jeannie ponytail, thrilling a sellout crowd with such hits as "Express Yourself," "Like a Virgin" and "Papa Don't Preach."
When she returned to Houston in 2008 for a sold-out concert at Minute Maid Park on her Sticky & Sweet Tour, I wrote a biting article for the Houston Chronicle stating the case that she wasn't relevant anymore.
But now, as she prepares for a Tuesday night appearance at the Toyota Center on her Rebel Heart Tour, I'm in love with Madonna again. Here's why:
1. She puts on a heck of a show
In that 1990 tour, Madonna redefined the concert show as a mixture of rock, performance art, fashion and Broadway, with five thematic acts, like a play. She does it again on the Rebel Heart Tour, with sets divided into Joan of Arc/Samuri, Rockabilly meets Tokyo, Latin/Gypsy, Party/Flapper and Encore.
2. Her newest CD is good
Despite no longer selling anywhere close to the level of Taylor Swift or Adele, Madonna's lastest CD, Rebel Heart, has a lot of good music, featuring collaborations with Diplo, Avicil and Kanye West and songs about love, heartbreak and being a survivor. And who can resist "Bitch, I'm Madonna"?
"Rebel Heart is a long, passionate, self-referential meditation on losing love and finding purpose in chilling times. It's also a chance for the Queen of Pop to floss a bit and reflect on how she painstakingly carved a path others have happily twerked down in the years since her 1983 debut," a Rolling Stone review asserts.
3. She mixes in the hits
Such classics as "Holiday," "Material Girl," "La Isla Bonita" and acoustic versions of "True Blue" and "Who's That Girl" are part of the current tour. And three different songs on her new CD refer to old hits.
4. She puts on a fashion show
At 57, Madonna still has a remarkable taut body, the better to showcase designs from Alexander Wang, Jeremy Scott, Gucci designer Alessandro Michele and Prada designer Miuccia Prada. While some want her to act her age, she continues to redefine what age means, even if she is an "Unapologetic Bitch."
5. And she may prove she's human
At a Mexico City concert last week, Madonna appeared to tear up onstage as she referred to a custody battle over her 15-year-old-son with ex-husband Guy Ritchie, and delivered a candid speech about the difficult times she's going through, according to Billboard.
"We all go through challenging times in our life, and that includes me," she said. "I, too, go through challenging times in my life, and right now is one of them. Sometimes I think I can't do a show. I don't have the energy, I don't have the strength."
"I come out here tonight and I can see your faces, and I look into your eyes and I see so much love and it gives me strength. So thank you. You are rebel hearts. I feel your hearts beating with mine."
Let's see what happens in Houston.
Madonna appears at the Toyota Center Tuesday night.