No better way to move the MDNA Tour from the Middle East to Europe than through the gateway that is Istanbul. It has been 19 years ago since Madonna played a show to Turkish fans.
Madonna arrived with boyfriend Brahim, her 4 kids and her crew in Istanbul on Tuesday. Yesterday she visited some of the city's landmarks, such as the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia. Some of the dancers tweeted pix from their boat trip on the Bosphorus.
But tonight is what the fans have been waiting for. And the early birds got lucky, because they were let in the venue early, while Madonna was still doing soundcheck!
Though only Martin Solveig was planned as opening act, Madonna asked DJ Offer Nisim, who played at her Tel Aviv opening gig, on Wednesday evening if he wanted to open in Istanbul as well, which he accepted.
Monte Pittman tweeted a picture, showing the view from the MDNA stage, showing the sold out stadium: "Amazing crowd in Istanbul tonight! Over 50,000 people all clapping along. My first time ever playing in Turkey"
And Madonna sure put on an amazing show in Istanbul. She heats up the sexual elements in the show; during her sensual dance with boyfriend Brahim she French kisses him. But the moment all the press will be talking about happens during Human Nature: slowly she undressed to her bra, then playfully pulled one piece of the bra down to show her breast!
Among concert-goers spotted at the Turk Telekom Arena, were Turkish stars, Beren Saat, known in the Arab world as Fatima, (previously Samar), alongside her boyfriend pop singer Kenan Dogulu. Actor Kivanc Tatlitug, famous for his role as Mohannad, was also there with girlfirend Azra Akin on his arm. Kenan Imirzalioglu, known for his part in the thrilling epic Turkish series "Ezel" was also spied among many other Turkish soap stars, familiar to Arab satellite TV viewers, who filled out the front rows.
"It's a hot and sweaty night in Abu Dhabi!" tweets guitarist Monte Pittman from the MDNA stage. That sums up nicely the second tour stop of the MDNA Tour.
Perhaps it wasn't the best idea to organise an open air concert in Abu Dhabi in June, where temperatures in the past few days have been constantly over 40°C. The amount of people faint before and during the show was record-high, despite the many precautions taken by organiser Flash Entertainment.
Madonna clearly suffered from the heat too. It was 10.40pm when she arrived on stage, a shocking 90 minutes past schedule. "Ladies and gentlemen, it's too damn hot!" she said. "But we're going to have some fun anyway."
With the show being her first ever in the Arab world, many international fans, from Lebanon to India, travelled to see her at du Arena. Check out some footage of the organiser, interviewing fans in the queue.
For the time is near... she's coming soon!
The day has finally come: Madonna is kicking off her new MDNA world tour at the Ramat Gan Stadium in Tel Aviv, Israel!
DJ Offer Nisim and Martin Solveig have warmed up the crowd. Meanwhile manager Guy Oseary and costume designer Arianne Philips have tweeted some pictures of fans in the pit area and of the crew backstage.
At 21h34, Kalakan starts the show with the Gregorian prayer. Five minutes later, the Queen arrives on stage. The MDNA Tour has officially kicked off!
As was already reported in the press, Madonna intertwines Express Yourself with some lines from 'Born This Way'. Then she repeats the line She's Not Me.
Before singing Masterpiece, Madonna talks about peace: "I chose to start my world tour in Israel for a very specific and important reason. You can't be a fan of mine and not want peace in the world. We all bleed the same colour. If we can all rise above our egos and our titles and the names of our countries and our religions, and treat everyone around us with dignity and respect, then we are on the road to peace. If there is peace here in the Middle East, there can be peace in the whole world."
Earlier, Madonna gave away 600 free tickets to peace activists.
The show lasts a little less than 2 hours.
Check the press pictures of the show, as well as some amazing shots by photographer Kevin Mazur at our Tel Aviv gallery.
Watch a 8-minute compilation of the Tel Aviv show: