All photos by Autumn Andel.

Madonna's show Saturday night at the Moda Center was stunning in a lot of ways. As you can see from the incredible photos Autumn Andel took for us—which she shot, mind you, from the far end of the arena and only during the show's first three songs, per the photographer restrictions—there was plenty to look at. Surrounded by phalanxes of backup dancers, Madonna charged through song after song, changing the entire look and feel of the show every two numbers or so. What you're seeing here is the samurai/papal-themed portion of the show; other chapters included a '50s-style auto mechanic stage setup for "Body Shop" and "True Blue," a Spanish tropical island/Brazilian carnival/Carmen Miranda mashup for "La Isla Bonita/Dress You Up," and an interwar-period Parisian nightclub, complete with topless dancer for "Candy Shop."


It was an ambitious spectacle and a wholly entertaining one. Madonna disappeared from stage a few times to change her wardrobe, as videos of new songs played on giant screens. When she was absent from the stage, her dancers often took the spotlight; it was as much a dance performance as a musical one.

Actually, make that more of a dance performance than a musical one, at least from my standpoint. Madonna looked terrific and was in incredible shape for a set that relied heavily on her new album, Rebel Heart. I think she played 12 or so songs from it, and good for her for committing to the new material. But her hits? She has so many, and she only played a few of 'em. (For more of Madonna's rich history, be sure to check out the many great articles from last week's Madonna issue.)

Here are some incredibly famous songs that Madonna didn't play on Saturday night:

Papa Don't Preach
Like a Virgin
Live to Tell
This Used to Be My Playground
Open Your Heart
Express Yourself
Take a Bow
Ray of Light
Crazy for You
Who's That Girl
Justify My Love
I'll Remember
4 Minutes
Instead we got lots of Rebel Heart material, but let's be honest. Her inventive, reworked renditions of "Like a Virgin," "Dress You Up," and "Burning Up" (during which she played electric guitar) were easily the high points. She also gave us very short snippets of songs like "Vogue" and "Into the Groove" that were interwoven into other, newer songs, which felt slightly like a tease. (Madonna knows how to tease, that's for sure.) I don't know if there was zero lip-syncing (probably not zero) but there were more than enough moments where you could tell Madonna was definitely singing, and her four-piece backing band and two backup singers were all solid, too. Madonna herself strummed some ukulele throughout the show, particularly on "True Blue" and a solo cover of Edith Piaf's "La Vie en Rose," possibly the most heartfelt moment of the show, which came during a mellow interlude toward the end of the night.

The show was assaultive—in a good way—on the senses, displaying a rich blend of sexual and religious imagery. After all, this is Madonna we're talking about: Those twin obsessions run through every single one of her songs (even her name!), and she and her team made a very real visual representation of them. It felt like diving into her subconscious, with stripper nuns dancing on crucifix stripper-poles, bodies writhing on beds that looked like they came out of an insane asylum, and a number where Madonna and a backup dancer chased each other up a spiral staircase. That song's dramatic conclusion came when she pushed the dancer—representing an unsatisfactory lover, no doubt—off the stairs, and indeed the show was imbued with a playful, make-believe sense of violence running alongside all the bumping and grinding.

All of that said, when Madonna addressed the crowd in between the gargantuan production numbers, she seemed down-to-earth and genuine. She was grateful to her fans and self-deprecating about her oversexed image and tabloid history. (At one point she singled out a gay couple in the front row and asked them if they wanted to get married. They really, really did. Everyone thought she was going to bring them up onstage and perform some sort of ad hoc ceremony, but that didn't happen exactly. She wished them well, then reflected on her own marriages. "I'm all for equal rights," she said, "But I'm not so sure about this marriage thing. I've been married twice, you know. Maybe you heard about that.")

Those moments of humanity offset what was otherwise a greased-wheel production. If the lack of spontaneity made portions of the show feel like a Vegas revue, the talent and athleticism on display was worth witnessing. And not just the dancers, but in Madonna's case, too. You could tell: She really does love performing, and she really is good at it. In fact, that might be why her acting career stalled while her music career flourished—she is so damn good at being Madonna, why would she want to be anyone else?

Take a look at more of Autumn's mind-blowing pictures from Saturday below. You can click on each of them to make them bigger.