As the past few days of tributes and salutes have made clear, David Bowie’s sphere of influence was as massive as they come. Some artists imitated Bowie’s style, some took cues directly from the music, and some simply drew inspiration from his sense of adventure. And though few of Bowie’s admirers forged careers as enduring, unpredictable, and prominent as his, one notable exception is Madonna. Like Bowie, she’s spent decades as one of pop music’s most restless and forward-thinking artists, creating rich personae only to shed them before they grow stale. And like Bowie, Madonna has consistently found ways to inject her own inimitable sensibility into one rising genre after another.
Fittingly, Madonna posted a heartfelt thank you and goodbye to Bowie on Facebook on Monday, noting “how he created a persona and used different art forms within the arena of rock and Roll to create entertainment.” And at a concert on the Rebel Heart tour last night in Houston, she took her appreciation one step further, speaking at length about her affection for Bowie—whom she called “the first rebel heart that I laid eyes on”—before performing a faithful and surprisingly hard-rocking rendition of his 1974 classic, “Rebel Rebel.”