LONDON. — She’s known as the Queen of Pop and, on the opening night of her Celebration World Tour, Madonna brought out her crown jewels.
The star played more than 40 hits, including era-defining anthems like Ray Of Light, Like A Prayer and Holiday.
She also addressed the infection that almost killed her this summer, telling fans: “I didn’t think I would make it — neither did my doctors”.
And she expressed her sorrow over the situation in Israel and Gaza.
“It’s so painful to witness,” she said. “It breaks my heart to see children suffering, teenagers suffering, elderly people suffering. I’m sure you agree.”
The concert was billed as Madonna’s first-ever greatest hits set and, on that front, it did not disappoint.
Aided by vintage costumes and archive footage, she time-travelled through a career that took her from penniless wannabe to musical icon, while highlighting her impact on popular culture.
She opened with Nothing Really Matters, whose lyrics addressed fans directly: “I’ll never be the same because of you”.
Performing alone, illuminated by a vast circular lighting rig, she was dressed in a black replica of the Gaultier-designed kimono from the song’s video.
That set the tone for an evening, where every song had an aural or visual Easter egg. At one point, I counted 18 Madonnas on stage, each sporting a different look — from the pink Hung Up leotard to the dominatrix costumes of Erotica.
Even the three-tiered circular stage was designed to mirror the “wedding cake” from which she performed Like A Virgin at the 1984 MTV Awards.
For fans, it was a deeply nostalgic trawl through a trend-setting, taboo-breaking pop career.
For Madonna, it was frequently a family affair.
Madonna’s Tour In Numbers
l 47 hits played in part or in full
l 17 archive costumes recreated
l 78 shows in 15 countries
l 4,400 square ft of stage
l 5 of Madonna’s children on stage
l More than 600 lights, including 14 spotlights on Madonna
l 80 tons of production equipment
l 3 travelling mobile gyms
l 40 pairs of boxing gloves
l 8 humidifiers in Madonna’s dressing room
The first act of the show was devoted to Madonna’s pre-fame New York years, as she tried to break into the music scene while living in poverty.
She recalled her first job as part of a band called The Breakfast Club.
“I played the drums (but) I didn’t like being the drummer,” she said. “I really wanted to be in front.
“So they let me play one song, one night,” she added, strapping on a guitar, and launching into one of her earliest singles, Burning Up.
But as the song came to an end, the show ground to a halt. — BBC.