Confessions Tour diary - Europe

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Time goes by... so quickly

Live To Tell After exactly 4 months on the road, Madonna gave her 60th and last show of the Confessions Tour yesterday in Tokyo, making it to be her longest tour ever so far. She's putting away her dancing shoes for awhile, but now we can take the time to think back at the amazing moments of the show.

Who could forget the dazzling opener Future Lovers, the sexy Like A Virgin, the controversial, but truly gorgeous Live To Tell, the energetic Sorry, I Love New York & Ray Of Light, where Madonna showed off her improved guitar skills with an attitude, the vulnerable Drowned World, the hedonistic Music Inferno or the brillant mix of Lucky Star / Hung Up as the perfect encore...

Knowing Madonna, next time she'll do a totally different tour, but this one will always have a special place inside our hearts. Be sure to re-live memories with our Rome & Paris reviews and check out all the press reviews and the picture galleries!
~ Thank you, Madonna for the experience and all the inspiration you gave us!

Osaka - 21 Sep. 2006

After 13 years, Madonna performed in Japanese stadiums again. She performed in Osaka first to a cheerful audience. In Japan, because of security issues, the crowd was standing far from the stage and the catwalk. Madonna, who loves to defy rules, walked down from the stage to the fans, held hands with them and talked to them, much to their delight! She sang a bit of Carole King's 'So Far Away' on the first night, while on the second night she reportedly threw her 'Dancing Queen' cape into the audience. Somebody must have been very lucky!

The last two dates of the tour were in Tokyo. Madonna must have been bored a bit, so she used a platinum blonde wig during the second half of the show (which she'd shown off a day earlier during her visit to the X-Static Process exhibit in the Luis Vutton store in Tokyo). It certainly looked... different.

On the very last show, several surprises happened: the dancers during Jump wore Japanese headbands; for Ray Of Light, the dancers had Power Rangers masks and the boys made a surprised Madonna laugh; she wore a 'Japanese Do It Better' T-shirt in the third part of the show, referring to the previous tour. In I Love New York, after the line "Los Angeles is for people who sleep", she added "Are you listening Guy Oseary?" as a wink to her manager. Most importantly, after Let It Will Be she introduced her band and took a long time to thank everybody who worked on this amazing show.

Moscow - 12 Sep. 2006

Get Together in Moscow Yesterday, Madonna finally did her much talked about show in Moscow. Unfortunately, there are hardly any reviews about the show; all the articles before and after the show talk about the change of date and venue, the so-called dangers of the new venue, the controversy of the cross scene and the angry reactions of orthodox Russians. Despite all this controversy, the show went smoothly.

When the first fans entered the stadium, Madonna was still on stage, rehearsing Future Lovers and Hung Up. When she finished, she teasingly said: "See you at the second show! Time goes by, so sloooowly!" At 9.30pm, an hour behind schedule, she kicked off that "second" show.

She gave a rather long speech before Drowned World, which went like this:

"So good to be here! I have to say, it's a privilege and an honour to finally be playing and performing and singing in your country. I've been in this strange business called show business for 24 years. It's always been my dream to come to Russia. Finally my dream came true. I wanna thank everybody who made it possible, especially mayor Luzhkov, and everybody else who worked so hard to make this concert possible, thank you so much.

The other amazing thing is that Russia has been a democracy now for over 15 years! Wooow! I wanna give hope and inspiration to the young people of Russia. Now that you are free you must take advantage. You must think for yourself! You must express yourself! Speak your mind, okay? Because America is supposed to be free but nobody speaks their mind... So take advantage! [...] Are you having a good time? [...] How many people want peace in the world? No more war. Are you gonna sing a song with me?"

She then kicked into a rendition of John Lennon's 'Give Peace A Chance'.

Prague - 7 Sep. 2006

Madonna performs Future Lovers in PragueMadonna moved for the first time to Eastern Europe, where she treated Prague with two shows. As she took a sip of water before Jump, she greeted the audience with "Cheers, Prague! Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming to my show. I just wanna make a comment that I understand what the Czech Republic has been through in the fight for freedom. But the freedom is inside your head, okay? Don't forget that!" Later she got back to the topic, asking "Are you enjoying your freedom?" She also called Prague 'a beautiful city with beautiful people'.

During the call for flags, she noticed some familiar faces in the crowd and asked if they were her front row bitches. She asked one of the guys how many shows he had seen: "Fifteen?! How can you afford that? Well, I guess I'll have to kiss you then!" She then leaned forward, and so did the fan so he could kiss her cheek! During Paradise, she asked him and the group around him to sing a whole verse.

She was in a really good mood. When she started La Isla Bonita, she was laughing so hard that she couldn't sing a few lines.

6 Sep. 2006

Future Lovers in Paris Got back yesterday from my Confessions adventure. I've spend an entire week in Paris and then a long weekend in Amsterdam. Six shows in 9 days. Pretty exhausting. But also very satisfying! I've seen the show from different perspectives, but always close and with a great view! And for those wondering, yes even the 7th time I discovered new things.

La Isla BonitaThe show is a real attack on the senses. And each show, the amount of personal highlights got higher. The fact that I got to see the concerts with so many good friends ('old' and 'new'), made the experience even better. Thanks to all those I met in the queue, who mailed me afterwards with their stories and pictures. I've added some galleries with great pictures of Axel, Daniel and Marcin, and also some press pix from Amsterdam. Madonna is doing Prague tonight and then finishes with Moscow, Osaka and Tokyo. But for me, the tour is over. The audio files keep playing on my iPod. Now waiting for the DVD...

Did you know...
the background video for Like A Virgin shows x-ray scans of broken bones and imagery of horse accidents?
the dancers during Jump are special parkour dancers that only appear during that song (except Cloud)?
Cloud keeps sticking out his tongue throughout the whole show?
the intro of Sorry skips the "Ik ben droevig/Sono spiacente" part?
the chorus of Where's The Party is mixed into Music Inferno?
how beautiful the dance is between Madonna and Jason during Erotica?
Madonna's outfit during Erotica/La Isla Bonita is an exact copy of the one once worn by Abba's Agnetha?
Donna DeLory (unfortunately) only appears in the spotlights during Lucky Star?
it's the first time in 19 years that she performs Lucky Star?
two dancers jump in the audience right before Hung Up?
Isaac joins the dancers during the final Hung Up choreography, also doing the disco roll?

Amsterdam - 4 Sep. 2006

Live updates from Madonna's second show in Amsterdam:

Amsterdam16.45: Madonna doing a soundcheck with Music & Ray Of Light. The crowd gets impatient.

19.34: Paul Oakenfold is again the opening act.

21.13: Madonna arrives onstage.

21.32: She greets the Dutch audience before Like A Virgin like yesterday. Before Jump it's the traditional intro: "Ladies & Gentlemen, welcome to our little show. The night is young and the show has just begun."

21.37: Time to tell a Tale.

21.57: Before Like It Or Not, Madonna says "Talk is cheap! Fuck stupidity! Fuck ignorance!"

22.15: "Last night I got everyone jumping so high, I want you to jump even higher! Get the whole city jumping!" - and the crowd gives an amazing reception for Ray Of Light.

22.25: "Do you mind if I take a rest? I've been beating myself up the past 4 months... You're alright, Amsterdam. I smell some funny smoke though [laughter]. You know, there are about 36 wars going on at this moment. If I could go to Lebanon or Iraq to stop it, I would, but I can't. But what we can do, is feel the unity tonight. We are one..."

22.30: As she skims through the flags, Madonna discovers her Australian 'front row bitch' again: "oh yeah it must be your 12th show." Then the usual "Show me your flags. If the person standing next to you is from another country, give each other a hug."

23.10: "Time goes by so slowly... that's the way aha aha I like it!" The crowd goes wild for the grand finale of Hung Up and as the famous "Have you confessed?" closing line appears, fireworks can be heard outside. The tour for the Mad-Eyes team is over, and a great one it was. And you? Have you confessed?

Amsterdam - 3 Sep. 2006

Time for another live update from Bartie, the webmaster, this time from ArenA Amsterdam, Netherlands:

19.30: Paul Oakenfold starts shaking up the ArenA. Bartie is in golden circle, next to manager Guy Oseary, who's taking pictures of fans.

21.25: Show starts almost an hour and a half later than the scheduled start. The ArenA, with a capacity of 55.000, is completely full.

21.38: Before Like A Virgin, Madonna asks "Alright Amsterdam! Are you ready to ride with me?"

Amsterdam 21.44: "Ladies & Gentlemen, welcome to our show! We have something for your mind, your body and for your soul."

22.25: Small disaster: the speakers fail at the end of I Love New York. The grand finale gets totally lost. Before Ray Of Light, she talks a lot so the technical problems can get solved and the screen video rewinded.

22.40: As she lays down after Let It Will Be: "Where am I? Where is this beautiful place? Oh Amsterdam, it's good to be back. Amsterdam you have a terrible reputation, you know. Especially about indulgence. Like me." As she asks her 'front row bitches' to show their flags, she recognizes an Australian die hard fan: "I've seen your face before! Common tell me, how many shows have you seen? Oh it's your 11th! You're definitely not a virgin anymore!. She mentions a few more flags (among which again Belgium :-), has to ask which country is represented by "that flag with the ball". Then launches into her "no more war, we are one" speech.

22.52: Before Paradise: "This is my friend Isaac. I don't have many, but he's one of them."

23.15: Another technical problem; her Lucky Star cape fails too, the disco balls inside aren't properly lit.

Paris - 1 Sep. 2006

And some update from the webmaster:

Just got back from an amaaaaaaazing week in Paris! The stop in the City of Light is always something special in a Madonna tour. It seems to be the central place where fans from all over Europe 'get together'. I've enjoyed 4 Madonna shows with so many great people: my good friends Krissy (Belgium) and Marcin (Poland) joined me for all 4 shows. Daniel (Spain), who I first met during the Drowned World Tour was there all week too. I finally got to meet my assistant Dani (Hungary) in real life (I see he's been entertaining the Mad-Eyes readers with a long but great review). Francesco (Italy), who I met at the G.A.Y gig and Confessions in Rome was always queueing early morning with his Italian gang. My girls Peggy, Marie & Christine (Belgium & France) joined for the 3rd show. And then I made lotsa new friends: Dorrith and her sister (Holland), Gaia and her friends (Italy),... Music/Madonna makes the people come together!

It surely made the long hours of waiting a lot more enjoyable. The first day we queued from 7am but still suffered a difficult rush in the afternoon. We avoided that for the 2nd and 3rd show by coming at 6am, which earned us a spot at front row at the catwalk, with a great view! For the 4th show we were so exhausted that we came in the afternoon, but we still ended up with a pretty good spot near the end of the catwalk.

While Madonna was a bit stiff during the first show, she really opened up during the other 3. She talked a lot, and tried her best to entertain the crowd with her funny French. The 2nd show was certainly one of the best shows I'd ever seen. The last one was very special, when we received the surprise appearance of Lenny Kravitz, and when she mentioned my homecountry Belgium among the flags. And I finally got to catch a Confessions balloon! :-)

The show is such an attack on the senses! Each show I noticed new details. In Rome my highlights were Live To Tell and Music, with Forbidden Love and Paradise as strong runners-up. In Paris they still were, but I noticed how incredibly energetic Ray Of Light was (especially with my good mate Krissy next to me, jumping together all the time). How beautifully she sang Drowned World. How fantastic the dancers were on Jump (sorry but did you SEE that six-pack?!). How original the new version of Erotica sounded, with the beautiful choreography. And how superbly Stuart mixes Lucky Star with Hung Up. There's so much in that show that I just can't get enough. After Rome and Paris, I'm glad I can feed my hunger a bit more in Amsterdam. Gotta start packing for tomorrow's trip! To be continued... :-)

Future Lovers Get Together Jump Live To Tell Live To Tell Forbidden Love Sorry I Love New York Let It Will Be Music Inferno Music Inferno Lucky Star Hung Up Hung Up The gang after the show

Paris - 28 Aug. 2006

I have a tale to tell... sometimes it gets so hard to put it into words. In the last week of August, the tour finally reached Paris, where Madonna plays 4 shows. On the first one (27th) she was reportedly stiff, didn't talk to the audience more than usual. She greeted the audience with "Ladies and Gentlemen, Mesdames and Messieurs", later on the show she asked "Do you think my French is bad?" fans of course couldn't lie, she replied with "Well at least I'm trying!"

The second show was more special, as the Mad-Eyes team was finally together: Bartie the webmaster, Marcin the now-famous photographer, Krissy the good friend of the team, and myself. We started queueing very early, at 6 am, I would have never imagined that could happen, I wasn't fond of the idea at first, but fortunately it turned out well (je suis désolé for complaining!)... The weather was bad, but we had protection at least, and we were also left out of the chaos. Two people who stood with us in queue have to be mentioned: Danielillo the funny Spanish fan with a fan (thanks, it did help a lot!) and Gaia, the devoted Italian girl, who wrote a banner to ask Stuart Price to marry her, and he reportedly liked the idea. We surely don't want to miss that wedding. ;-)

We got in the venue after 6 pm, David Guetta was the opening act. He wasn't universally well received, we could hear a few booing here and there. He left around 8:45, still almost half an hour to wait for Her, I think it was the worst part of all the waiting, but I quickly forgot about it when the lights were turned off. Our site was recognized by fans, in much delight to the webmaster.

Around 9:15, the screens were finally starting to play the opening video, with Madonna glamourously walking around horses, while the bassline and the spoken lines of the amazing Future Lovers could be heard. The crowd went nuts and the disco ball started descending from the top. After the second spoken verse, the ball opened and she was standing there in all her glory! The crowd was so loud that I barely heard her singing first. As we were standing near the stage at the right side of the catwalk, we couldn't see her performance on the end of catwalk that well, but we got to see the male dancers dressed in horses passing by, escorted by the female ones, who were dressed in nineteenth century-inspired riding clothes, just like Madonna herself. When the girls cracked their riding crops, the "horses" crouched, it was perfectly timed. One of the horse-dancers got lucky as Madonna mounted him and then she confessed that she "feels love" during horse riding, via a few lines of Donna Summer's most enduring hit 'I Feel Love'. The crowd ate it up, and after she sang two verses of her own song, she galloped through the catwalk, so I could finally see her, just 2 meters away, realizing she's so beautiful, no videos or pictures can capture her essence. She turned to the audience on top of the stairs and sang the last line of 'I Feel Love', it was magical, greatly sung, even if she's not totally live. Then she took off her hat and coat, but didn't take a break before going into the next song, Get Together.

Surprisingly it's one of the more memorable performances to me, for several reasons. It was the perfect song to keep the mood, sounded much better than on CD. Madonna walked around stage, two male dancers joined her, with red screens behind them. During the breakdown she came down to the catwalk, and for half a second, she looked at me! Her eyes are truly gorgeous, I've never seen anything compared to that before. She lied on stage in front of us, what an experience! And from that night, this song will always have a special meaning to me: as Bartie and I held hands in the air when she was finishing the song, I realized that after 4 years of keeping contact, we did "get together" and did check Madonna out together - the song for me is about our friendship. Thank you, my favourite webmaster! :-)

The next song in line was the first big sing-along of the show, one of her signature songs, Like A Virgin. Before the song, Madonna greeted the audience with "Ladies & Gentlemen, Mesdames & Messieurs" (like on the previous show). Then asked if we were ready to ride with her (of course we were!), she asked "Are you ready?", even in French too "Vous êtes prêt?". She started the song and then rode the famous saddle with the pole. It went very high, she did some hot and dangerous moves up there, while the fans kept on singing. The screens showed Madonna's X-ray pictures and horse accidents, only she could make fun of an accident like that!

She finally took a moment of catching her breath with sitting down on a table and taking a bit of water, while new elements of the stage descended from above. It was time for the inspirational Jump, with many dancers and parkours doing acrobatics on the set. As a big contrast, Madonna practically just walked around and sang the song. We couldn't enjoy this performance in its full because the catwalk became higher and there was so much happening on stage at once. The end of her performance was even comical, when she went to the rails and did some exercices near the real parkours. Well at least she tried. It was time for her to go offstage to change costumes as it was the last song of the Equestrian segment.

The moment I'd been waiting for was about to come. But before, the first interlude of the show happened, with 3 dancers telling their story about their though times and how they ended up as professional dancers. Even if it's obviously the least eventful part of the show, I do appreciate how Madonna cares about other people that much now, and it does fit with the upcoming song. Then, with some church organ music, the most talked about moment of the show was happening: Madonna emerged from beneath being hung up on a mirrored cross, dressed in a red blouse and velvet pants, with a crown of thorns on her head. It looked absolutely iconic, my chin practically fell on the floor. And then, she started singing my all time favourite song, the beautiful Live To Tell. I couldn't help myself, I was singing it with all my heart and my soul. Her voice was totally perfect, and for a brief moment, I saw her smiling on the cross! The line "I know where beauty lives, I've seen it once, I know the warmth she gives" couldn't have been more fitting to me. After the second chorus, she climbed off the cross as the counter above her stopped at 12 million (number of African children dying in a year of AIDS). Then she sang the bridge with the most inspiring lyrics ever written (at least to me) as an acapella with standing in front of the cross: "If I ran away, I'd never have the strength to go very far...". To me it was also her best vocal performance ever. After the last question she asks ("How will they know?"), the screens showed explosions and Madonna took her crown off. As if she couldn't carry the burden of the tragedies anymore, she lied down on stage, facing the same fate as those who raise their voices, but never get understood. The character she was playing died in front of us. It truly is a highlight of her long career. To all the people, who think it was controversial or offending, let me quote Madonna herself from a later song: "Is anyone listening?"

After the one of the greatest highlights of the show, Madonna was 'reborn' to the opening horns of Forbidden Love. She sang the first verse and chorus slowly, walking near the cross. Then, the beat kicked in, made the audience moving. Two half-naked dancers with the Jewish and Muslim body paints came to stage and did a great hand-dance. Madonna joined them, it was like she was trying to say that she brings together the different people. It was also a huge statement to portray same sex love and love between different religions in front of the symbol of Christianity. Because of this, I even forgave the fans who sang "Once upon a time, there was a boy and there was a boy".

Madonna then left stage, and even if we were still in the same segment of the show (officially named 'Bedouin'), I immediately thought if the first two songs were about the shortcomings of Christian religion, and then the following songs were focusing more on the Middle-East. For the very least, this part of the show was really touching important subjects. The man called Isaac appeared on the right catwalk, with blowing a traditional horn, and starting to sing the song Isaac. A cage was lowered to the main stage, with a female dancer dressed as an oppressed Arabic woman. Madonna came back to stage at the end of the catwalk, so she was far again, but then she came near us and kneeled down at the same spot again. She freed the dancer from the cage and she was joined by a few dancers for a very exhausting choreography, that actually saved the performance. I think this song was performed only to feature Isaac himself, even if it's one of the more innovative songs on the latest album, the song after it on the CD would have been a better choice.

Coming up, Madonna's latest hit single Sorry. I didn't expect much from this song as it was never my favourite. But the live version blew me away. It started with the Pet Shop Boys vocals from their remix while Madonna took on a leather jacket. She walked around the stage while singing the verses (though she was miming), building up the tense, and making it explode all with "I don't wanna hear, I don't wanna know". This song got one of the biggest reception from the audience. During the breakdown, Madonna did the staggering yoga choreography, recreating the video, another spectacle of the show. At the end, instead of her usual speech, she told us "repeat after me: talk is cheap".

She quickly went into the following song, Like It Or Not. She took off her jacket, finally showing some skin on the front, for my pleasure. They looked perfect too. She went to the end of the catwalk again, so we couldn't catch the chair choreography, but we could see the slithering snakes and flowers on the big screens to match with the lyrics "I'll be the garden, you'll be the snake". After she finished the song, it was time for another costume change.

Before Madonna came back, the audience got an amazing interlude, one of the best tour interludes she ever did. It was again the song Sorry, but in a totally new remix version, named 'Don't Talk, Don't Speak' by the fans, even with a melody change. The video showed Madonna of the original video in front of a screen performing the song, interspersed with images of various tragical pictures and past or present world leaders. Mr Bush obviously got the rightful reception from the lovely audience. ;-) At the end of the video, the line "Is anyone listening?" was written, probably directed at her detractors. Well Madonna, at least your fans are listening, and you're more convincing with your own songs, than with covers.

For the third segment of the show, Madonna came back on stage dressed in a leather jacket with a furry collar, holding the electric guitar, hinting at glam rock. She went into the energetic I Love New York right away while skyscrapers appeared on the screens. Her guitar playing was amazing, especially in the extended ending of the song. Naturally, for the line "Paris and London, baby you can keep" she got booed, but the audience appreciated the song nonetheless. The infamous "And you can suck George Bush's dick" was well-received too. At the end of the song, she said we shouldn't take it personally, because "I love Paris too".

When she started playing the next song, she asked us to jump. It was a fantastic rock version of the fan favourite Ray Of Light. Actually I can't really put this performance into words as it felt out of this world. The whole venue was jumping, I even closed my eyes during one of the choruses to feel the energy, it was like heaven!

She took no break after that remarkable performance, just took off her guitar and jacket and then the beats of the Paper Faces Mix of Let It Will Be started playing. As I was totally out of breath because of the previous song, I didn't follow it that much, but I saw her hesitating between a few cowboy hats, finally taking one from a fan this time, not from an inside person. The woman totally amazed me for still having the energy to do a performance that draining...

Before continuing with the show, she actually took a long break now. She told us in French that she was tired, and asked if we were having a good time. After two convincing replies, she said "well you better, I slept only 3 hours yesterday". Then she asked us to show her our flags, she actually went around the catwalk and said "Germany, Canada, Italy". Representatives of the last one were so loud that she went there and actually removed her earplugs just to hear them perfectly. She went back to the stairs, sat down and did a quick song with the lyrics "We want peace/no more war/we are one!", and she asked us to repeat, she was really talkative that night. Finally, the music started and she did a beautiful acoustic rendition of one of my favourite songs, Drowned World. It was a simple performance, resembling a lot to her older tours, but it was a great emotional moment with everybody singing along.

Many fans complained that she did another slow song right after, but I think both Madonna and the audience needed it to recover from all that jumping and dancing. She sat down on the stage with the acoustic guitar in her hand, next to the man she introduced as "This is my friend Isaac", she was in such a good mood that she just laughed after. She started singing a totally different version of Paradise (Not For Me). Her voice was sincere but beautiful. Isaac sang the originally French parts in (probably) Hebrew. Madonna played the guitar well again, during the instrumental break, I looked at Monte and he wasn't even playing his, it was just Madonna. The screens showed images of a beautiful tree with pink petals that were falling down slowly. Madonna surely knows how to do a lot of great performances with an atmosphere! At the end, she sang the well-fitting line "Into your eyes, my face remains" through a vocoder.

Madonna went offstage again and a montage of her old videos appeared on the big screen, although it was much more subtle than the previous ones she had on concerts. The crowd cheered for past hits, but then the dancers appear with roller-skates and do an amazing choreography to the beats of the famous 70s anthem 'Disco Inferno'. Hardcore fans notice the vocodered chorus of 'Where's The Party' added, they happily sing along. Then, Madonna appears glamorously in a white suit, similar to the one John Travolta wore in Saturday Night Fever, and to the beat of 'Disco Inferno' she starts singing her own hit Music, making it to be Music Inferno! Madonna's eyelashes shine like diamond. She's joined by two of the female dancers, dressed in suits too, and they dance through the whole song, then Madonna goes to the end of catwalk and does the legendary disco gun choreography, done by Travolta, accompanied first by the rollerskaters, then the two girls join her. When Madonna came back to the main stage, she even imitated Travolta's hair fixing, it was so funny to see! The best performance of the song, no doubt!

She took off her suit to reveal a striped unitard, an obvious homage to ABBA who wore a similar clothing on one of their world tours. The following song confuses many, as it's a Kraftwerk-inspired rework of 'Erotica', but using the lyrics of You Thrill Me, the original version of the track, making it to be another confessional song ("you are who you are and I wouldn't want to change a thing"). With Madonna and her company doing a 2-on-2 dance, while disco balls shining above them, she brought back the heyday of Studio 54. I did appreciate this rare song on tour, but it kills a bit of momentum among the mammoth hits of the Disco segment. It was nice to hear her saying "I'd like to put you in a trance" at the end of the song though.

She then invites us to 'the beautiful island' with asking France to "wear your dancing shoes" as she starts the tribal version of La Isla Bonita. This version is quite similar to the closing song of the previous tour, but this song is one of my favourite 80s Madonna songs, so I was enjoying it, but many fans were left confused as Madonna changed the pace of the chorus and took breaks during some lines. At the end, they do a big choreography in front of the tropical scenery. When she finished the song, not everyone showed appreciation, but I surely did.

Madonna was probably exhausted, but it is actually a rehearsed part, when she lies on the stage and the backup singers (they didn't have their share in the spotlight till now) run to her and tell her she still has a show to finish. They help her standing up and give her a cape that says 'Dancing Queen', another ABBA reference. She spreads her 'wings' so the inside of the cape with the disco balls makes fans go crazy. The opening keyboards of Lucky Star are instantly recognized, but that's the only thing from the original track. I was afraid if this rendition would sound like karaoke, since she's using the instrumental of the upcoming song, but it turned out well. Madonna went to both side catwalks with the backup singers, singing a light-hearted version of the song, and when they arrive back on stage, the music becomes so prominent, yet they sing the "You may be my lucky star" part a several times. Then Madonna asked the crowd "Do you want more?", the answer was obvious.

She sang the chorus of the megahit Hung Up and then left stage to build anticipation. If this ain't encore, then I don't know what it is. After a while, she came back in a sequined purple leotard, a jacket and sunglasses, similar to all of her previous performances of the track, but I didn't mind it at all. As it was Madonna's most recent biggest hit, the reception was astonishing, the audience went mad. After the lovely breakdown, where Madonna showed us again how flexible she is, she asked the audience to sing the catchy line "Time goes by so slowly". She went around the catwalk, even greeting her 'front row bitches'. We sang the line like twenty times then Madonna went back to the main stage to finish the song. Unfortunately, it was her time to go, but left a question for us "Have you confessed?". My greatest experience was over, but I'll never forget it. Thank you, Madonna! A big shout out to everyone who was in the audience, you did a great job!

~ Dani

Paris - 31 Aug. 2006

Webmaster Bartie is reporting live from the last show of Paris, Bercy:

20.15: DJ Dimitri from Paris is tonight's opening act

21.19: The show starts 49 minutes behind schedule 

21.36: Similar to the other Paris shows, she greets the audience with "Hello Paris! Are you ready to ride with me? Vous êtes prêt?!. Then after Like A Virgin, she continued with "Ladies and Gentlemen, Mesdames et Messieurs. Bienvenue à notre spectacle! Ce soir on va tout niquer!" (= Welcome to our show, tonight we're gonna fuck all!)

22.05: After Sorry, she says "When I say 'fuck you', I say 'fuck you' to stupidity, I say 'fuck you' to ignorance!"

22.15: A surprise for the last Paris show: Lenny Kravitz joins Madonna on stage during I Love New York! He appears at the end of catwalk and then walks to the main stage. Madonna and Lenny play electric guitar together and at the end of the song they give a friendly kiss on the mouth.

22.30: She ends Let It Will Be with "Let... it... will... you let me down motherfucker... beeeeeee"

22.34: Before Drowned World: "C'est mon dernier show, je suis très triste. I've always had a connection with France. I've always worked together with French collaborators. Three of them are in the audience tonight: Jean-Paul Gaultier, Jean-Baptiste Mondino, and Mirwais. They are real good friends. Talking about friends, show me your flags" She then walked down the catwalk, naming some flags. She even mentioned Belgium (a guy standing close to Bartie)  She then continued her usual peace message: "So many different flags, different cultures, different belief systemes. All different, but we're all together here. That's a good thing.  Repeat after me: No more war! we want peace! fuck George Bush! no more pain! we are one! let's have some fun!"

22.39: She lets the audience sing the first chorus of Drowned World

22.43: "This is my friend Isaac, he came all the way from Yemen tonight" - yesterday she called him her #1 fan from Israel!

Some celebrities in the crowd tonight: Mirwais, Mondino, Gaultier, Lionel Ritchie

Horsens - 25 Aug. 2006

Horsens Reports from last night in Horsens, Denmark are coming in slowly and they're not looking very good. Seems the Danish crowd is the most underwhelmed of the tour. Critics slammed the show for being too 'automatic' and 'robotic' and not spontaneous. Some compared it to watching a two hour long music video. Apparently Madonna once slipped and dropped her mic, which was hailed as "the only prove it was a real living person on stage".

The venue seemed to be cause of a lot of agitation as well. Holding a massive 80.000 people, it seemed that the view in the back was really bad, and the sound even worse. Looks like Madonna shouldn't bother about ever repeating her first-time visit to Denmark...

Anyway, I'm leaving for Paris tomorrow to see all 4 shows in Bercy. My assistant Dani will be there too, so there won't be any updates for a few days. We'll make up for that with a full report when we come back!

Hannover - 23 Aug. 2006

Madonna performs in Hannover - picture by matzeberlin I've heard from many people that the German shows were a real highlight. The Hannover show yesterday reportedly was great. Although she did seem a bit tired (at one point she said "The tour's got to me") she was in a great mood and very talkative. She changed some of her speech, doing a funny singalong with the audience that went like:

"Are you hot yet? If you're hot, say "fuck you!". If you're hot, say "hell yeah!". If you're hot, say "hell fuckin yeah!". If you're hot, say "fuck George Bush!" The crowd ate it like sweet cake :-)

It had rained all day but fortunately it stopped right before the show. The stage seemed to be a bit wet still though, and Madonna slipped a bit during Jump. When she was doing Drowned World, an assistant came on stage to bring her a warm coat to wear.

Düsseldorf - 20 Aug. 2006

Madonna performs in Düsseldorf 23.00 CET: Madonna has delivered a great show tonight! She did the cross scene, despite the treat of German prosecutors. She adressed the crowd in German and thanked them for always supporting her.

18.27 CET: One of our sources is reporting live from Düsseldorf: after queueing in the rain for hours, the die hard fans are receiving a very special treat. They were led into the stadium while Madonna still needed to do a sound check. So she did the sound check in front of 1.000 fans!

Madonna was performing Future Lovers, followed by Get Together, wearing only a black track suit. The dancers were also on stage, as well as Angela Becker. The lighting and the video imagery was just as during the show, so apart from the clothing, it was as if Madonna had started her show already. She talked to the audience and asked not to take any pictures (which of course they did anyway). Naturally, fans went totally crazy!

London - 17 Aug. 2006

Madonna at her bday show in London Madonna at her bday show in London Madonna gave her 8th and final show in London last night. Being on her birthday made it extra special and the crowd was clearly in the mood. Before she could do her speech, Donna and Nicki led the audience into a Happy Birthday singalong, with Madonna smiling and enjoying the moment. Visibly touched, she adressed the crowd with following speech:

"I couldn't think of a better way to spend my birthday and to tell you the truth it's a hell of a lot better than the way I spent it last year! If somebody had told me that a year ago when I was in bed with ten broken bones, pumped up with morphine, that I would have such an amazing year I would say 'Yeah, and I'm the Queen of England!'

I feel so grateful, blessed and loved. I also want to say to everybody watching the show tonight, I look into the audience tonight and I see flags from all nations, I see people from all walks of life, different colour skins, different languages, different belief systems, different educations, different opinions - we are all so different - and yet we are all here together as one. That is proof that we can do it in the rest of the world. The best birthday present you can give to me is to leave this place tonight with that feeling in your heart - that we are one."

After the show, Madonna celebrated her birthday at a private party with family and friends (see picture)

Here's an article about last night:

Audience in Madonna birthday salute

Madonna at her bday show in LondonMadonnatreated to a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday on Wednesday night - by 12,000 people. The pop queen - who has just turned 48 - was in the middle of a concert at London's Wembley Arena when her backing singers urged the excited crowd to sing to her. The entire audience started warbling happy birthday as the slim blonde stood smiling on the stage.

Madonna, who is on her Confessions tour, thanked fans and then said her best birthday present would be world peace. "I cannot think of a better way to spend my birthday than with you tonight," she added. Wembley also presented the star with a beautiful mirror ball of roses.

The gig wrapped up the London leg of Madonna's tour. She is now heading to Germany, where it has been reported prosecutors will be watching to see if she goes ahead with her controversial crucifixion scene. During the song Live To Tell, Madonna is suspended on a mirrored cross wearing a crown of thorns, as images of African orphans are projected behind her. A government spokesman said this act could be construed as an insult to religious beliefs, which is illegal in Germany. (source: PA via Yahoo!)

~ Check out some great photos that we received from Axel, who attended the London show on August 12th.

16 Aug. 2006

Happy birthday, dear Madonna! You looked ravishing when I saw you on stage in Rome - keep on singing, dancing, jumping, shocking, entertaining, smiling,... We like it that way!

Madonna performs La Isla Bonita in London During yesterday's show, Madonna held a small speech to thank her entire crew: "Earlier in the show I sing this song where at the very end I say I can make it alone. You know that song, right? You love that song, right? But it's a lie! Because I can't really make it alone, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the hundreds of people thap help me make this show happen every night. Please give them a big hand!

You know, I don't ever really thank the people I work with publicly and I should. The crew, the lighting people, the sound people, my amazing band, my dancers who keep flying around me, hair, makeup, wardrobe... I mean, it sounds really tedious but so many hard working amazing people help me put this show together and I can't make it alone!

There's also my fans! Give yourself a big hand! Come on, let's shed some light on this subject! I can't make it alone! Thank you!" At the end, the lights went up in the arena and the crowd cheered approvingly.

14 Aug. 2006

Woops, another week went by! I'm still in a daze after seeing the show in Rome and I can already count down to Paris, yay! Meanwhile, Mrs. Ritchie is playing her hometown London. I heard the first show after Rome wasn't that great. She seemed to have a bit of a cold, and the crowd WAS cold. Lotsa business men and older people, who kept in their seats. Nothing better than a stadium with standing places, right Madge? Anyway, she still said she was glad to be back home and asked the audience if they'd missed her too.

Rome It seems the cowboy hat that she wears during Let It Will Be, is part of the show. In Rome it seemed as if it was a one-off spontaneous thing. Apparently, she wore a blue one on Thursday's show.

I was also surprised to hear about another detail that I didn't know when I was in Rome. Apparently the two dancers of Forbidden Love didn't have those symbols painted on the torso during the US shows. So she must've added that to make a peace statement in regard of the Israel-Lebanon conflict (very glad there's a cease-fire since today BTW).

And British newspapers reported about a remark Madonna made during one of the London shows. She complained about the lack of sleep caused by construction workers: "I only got three hours sleep last night because I have got construction work going on in stereo at my house. This morning I was so tired I thought: 'F**k, I can't do my show.' But I'm getting lots of energy from the smiles on your faces." The site manager for one of the construction firms responded to one newspaper afterwards: "Usually we work from 8.30am, but we agreed to be quiet before 10am so Madonna could get her lie-in. We have a job to do. I am surprised she has decided to complain."

8 Aug. 2006

Sitting back at my desk, in the aftermath of a wonderful weekend in Rome. Saturday I spend a sunny day at the beach with friends, enjoying the nice italian esthetics (ahem ;-) and of course anticipating sunday's show. Francesco, whom I met at the London G.A.Y. gig in November had decided to start queueing on saturday evening. I decided to take my chances and only go in the morning.

When I arrived at 9am, there were already hundreds of fans but I managed to get there with the first 3.000 lucky ones who obtained a wristband for the golden circle. The waiting wasn't easy, because the expected Italian hysteria quickly got hold of the heated crowd. Many times there was a rush forward, giving us less and less space.

The afternoon got a bit more bareable when we enjoyed Madonna doing soundchecks. We heard songs like Like A Virgin, Get Together and Isaac, and Jump over and over again. The soundcheck delayed the scheduled entrance time of 4pm. By this time I had met Chris, whom I met in Paris for the Drowned World Tour and who coincidently ended up next to me in the queue. Together we survived the hectic entering of the stadium, where many people got crushed and scratched. As rain started pouring down, we crossed the olympic field, running on the slippery floor but screaming with excitement all the way.

At the front I passed the entrance of the golden circle. Inside there was enough space to dance during the show. I met some cool people around me and together we waited the last few hours. The rain had stopped and it had turned the hot day into a nice and still warm evening, just perfect. That evening got right into the right groove when Paul Oakenfold launched his dance music on the crowd around 8pm. Tunes of David Guetta, Nelly Furtado, U2 and Tiesto got everybody into the right mood.

Around 21.45, fashionably late, the lights turned off, and the sound of running horses filled the stadium. The three back screens as well as the iron screen showd Steven Klein's fantastic horse photos, as the disco ball was lowered down. The stage was much bigger than in the closed arenas but the catwalk wasn't as high as described in the Cardiff reports. Myself, i was standing next to the disco ball and the catwalk didn't seem much higher than two meters.

So I had a perfect view when Madonna appeared from the disco ball. The crowd was electrified at her sight. The mood was immediately set and we screamed with amazement as she rode her dancers like horses. Future Lovers was perfectly blend with Donna Summer's 'I Feel Love'.

She continued with two dancers for her current single Get Together in front of a redish background video. She greeted us with "Ciao Rome! Are you ready?!" before climbing her horse saddle for a cool version of Like A Virgin. The images of x-rays with broken bones gave a whole new meaning to "i made it through the wilderness" - typical Madonna irony. I was so close to watch her do her yoga moves on the pole. She was smiling a lot, obviously enjoying the show.

As usual she repeated the "Ladies & Gentlemen, the night is young and the show has only just begun" before Jump. I hadn't read too much about the show yet and was surprised to see the acrobacy tricks of Cloud (cute and talented as ever) and the other dancers. Madonna joined them at the end, although her moves on the rack seemed more calculated.

My absolute highlight of the show was Live To Tell, which started off with the confessions of three dancers, followed by the raising of the cross. That scene had been the cause of a lot of controversy in Rome. Only last week, the Vatican and other religious leaders had ex-communicated Madonna for this. During the day, there were people handing out protest letters against the show. Meanwhile, fans in the queue held up a fake cross, with the message "Santa Subito" (make her a saint soon). But when we saw the infamous scene, it was not shocking, but really moving! The confessions of the dancers and the images on the screen only made Madonna's amazing performance of Live To Tell stronger. Her voice felt so powerful.

Forbidden Love was the perfect follow-up, with another strong message. The choreography between the two dancers was amazing. Whether she was symbolizing the forbidden love between two men, or between different cultures and religions, symbolized by the Star of David (Jewish) and the crescent moon (muslim) painted on their torsos, is up to the interpretation of the viewer.

Isaac started off the song that was named after him, playing a horn and then singing the duet with Madonna. For Sorry, Madonna used the Pet Shop Boys remix and a cage choreography resembling the video of the song. It was one of those crazy songs with all the dancers on stage going wild.

Madonna closed the Bedouin part with the mid-tempo Like It Or Not. The Sorry remix, dubbed by the fans 'Don't Talk, Don't Speak' was a great interlude, showing images of the Sorry video, intertwined with images of world leaders, dictators and mass murderers like Saddam, Hitler, Mussolini, Bush, Blair, Bin Laden,... The image of Bush, stupidly blinking his little eyes, was followed up by Madonna lifting her middle finger. Ironically, many Italians cheered at the sight of their prime minister Berlusconi. 'I heard all your lies and stories' was heard, while the video screen asked 'Is anyone listening?'

Madonna returned on stage in leather rock gear and sporting her electric guitar for I Love New York (same version as on the promo tour) and Ray Of Light. I always loved her performances of Candy Perfume Girl and Burning Up, and obviously so did she coz she was slamming her guitar like crazy. Lenny Kravitz, who was attending the show, must've been proud.

Like at Koko and G.A.Y., Madonna went totally balistic during her performance of Let It Will Be (in the Paper Faces Remix). She then took some time to address the crowd. The plan of the Italian fans to sing Crazy For You didn't really work. Madonna spoke of two miracles in Italy: "Italy has won the world cup! And secondly, the rain stopped before my show!" Of course she referred to her Italian roots and said she had dreamed about doing an open air concert in Rome for her entire career. She continued "I see many Italian flags, but also signs that there are many other nationalities here. See, we can all come together. And in peace. Together we can make a difference!"

She followed this moment of reflection with two beautiful ballads: Drowned World, with Isaac on backup, and a wonderful sung version of Paradise, in full duet with Isaac. Beautiful blossoms twirled down on the screens, setting a nice mood.

Another highlight for me was right up: images and sounds of Madonna's passed career traditionally announced her megahit Music, but this time it was fantastically mixed with the 70s disco hit Disco Inferno. The dancers took over the stage in a crazy rollerskating choreography. Then Madonna appeared with Donna and Niki, all three dressed in a stylish white suit. So much class and grace! It was the third and maybe best time I saw Music being performed live!

Jumping a bit back in time, madonna re-invented Erotica, largely replacing it with lyrics from the early version You thrill Me, which made it less controversial but it sounded very good. It was probably one of the better dances between Madonna and her dancers of this show.

She had revealed her Abba-like leatard and continued with the (probably too) rushed version of La Isla Bonita. I couldn't help but compare to the superior version she did on the Drowned World Tour. At the end she fell down on the floor, pretending exhaustion, and Donna and Niki covered her with the disco cape annd pulled her back on her feet. The crowd gasped as she opened it to uncover the stars inside. Lucky Stars apparently. I wasn't totally convinced about this choice of song and the intertwining of the Hung Up beat mostly made me long for that song. Of course I knew that meant the end of the show so I put all my last energy in dancing like crazy. Fortunately it was an extra long version, where she made everyone sing the line 'Time goes by so slowly' over and over again.

I was totally exhausted after the show but so satisfied. All the impressions of the show went through my mind. The incredible show, the impressive stage with the disco horses, the catwalk, the video screens and everything displayed on them, the disco ball, the talented dancers and their choreografies, the duets with Isaac, the Gaultier costumes, Madonna's gorgeous toned body and her "billion dollar" voice. It was so much that I'd need to see the show again to get it all in better perspective. Fortunately I will, in Paris in three weeks :-)
~ Bartie

Fans in the queue with an imitation of the cross have a message for the Vatican Pedro Almodovar and Lenny Kravitz arrive to attend the show Mobile phones light up at the beginning of the show One of the disco horses Madonna performs Forbidden Love in Rome Madonna performs Forbidden Love in Rome

7 Aug. 2006

I'm back from a wonderful weekend in Rome. The show was simply AMAZING! It's 1am, just got back from the airport and I'm totally exhausted. Check back tomorrow for a full report and more updates.

3 Aug. 2006

Madonna saves crucifixion routine for TV special

Madonna has won her battle to keep a controversial crucifixion routine in her Confessions concert in her upcoming TV special. Religious leaders were outraged when they first heard about the part of the show where Madonna, wearing a fake crown of thorns, descends on a suspended mirrored, disco ball-type cross.

They urged the pop superstar to scrap the irreverent routine, but she refused - and now the singer insists it remains when the concert special, Live To Tell, airs in America in November (06). Kevin Reilly, an executive at NBC - where the concert special will air - says, "She felt like that was a cornerstone of the show. We viewed it and didn't see it as being inappropriate." (source: ContactMusic)

London - 2 Aug. 2006

Madonna performs Hung Up in London Yesterday Madonna kicked off the first of 8 shows at Wembley Arena in her hometown London. She was very energetic and talkative. Adressing the London crowd, she said: "I never thought I'd say this about London but it's good to be home. I missed my house, I missed my horse, I even missed the congestion charge."

As the crowd laughed she grinned "I'm just joking. But we need to do something about that." Later on she asked: "Did you miss me too? Did you really miss me? Did you really really really miss me?" As in the previous shows she accompanied the politically loaded video images with the line "A lot of people talk the talk, but how many walk the walk?"

Among the celebs in the audience was Stella McCartney, right at the end of the catwalk. It seems Madonna noticed her, because she laughed at her when the disco ball opened and lost her concentration for a moment. At the end of Hung Up, Madonna playfully kicked a balloon at her.

1 Aug. 2006

Madonna tour finds new ways to manipulate and display video content

Pop superstar Madonna is getting a lot of noteriety these days for her current Confessions Tour, but, from an engineering point of view, the real news is the aggressive and challenging nature of the show's video content creation and display approach. At least, that's the view of Jason Harvey, the tour's assistant director and lead video engineer — and he ought to know. Harvey has spearheaded content creation and engineered display solutions for dozens of major live musical tours in recent years, including the current Bon Jovi Have a Nice Day tour, which he says was the first live concert tour to deploy multiple HD cameras from a fly package setup (as opposed to a separate broadcast truck) for image magnification (IMAG).

The Madonna tour, however, relies so heavily on synchronized mixes of live IMAG and high-end, preproduced video content on seven large screens that the sheer volume of material was too great to use HD efficiently on the tour's deadlines, although Harvey says it was seriously considered. Nevertheless, he insists, the tour's method of creating and displaying video content was more sophisticated than any he has ever worked on. Among the job's innovations, he adds, was the liberal use of traditional postproduction tools, such as Adobe Production Studio (running on an HP xw8200 Workstation), not only to produce packaged content, but also to previsualize changes and to add graphics and other changes onsite immediately before or after live performances.

Cardiff - 30 July 2006

Cardiff Madonna has kicked off her European tour with a show in Cardiff's Millenium Stadium. Paul Oakenfold warmed up the 60.000 fans with a DJ set at 7pm. Madonna arrived on stage at 9pm and played a good two hours. The show and setlist didn't change. The stage was adapted to the open stadium, with the stage and the catwalks being much higher. The sound towers aside of the stage had backdrops of the discohorses.

Cardiff - 29 July 2006

14.30 GMT: Madonna has arrived in Cardiff, Wales. One of our correspondents is standing outside the Millenium Stadium and could hear her rehearse Like It Or Not and Erotica. Rumours persist that there might be a change in the setlist but we'll know for sure tomorrow, when she kicks off her European tour. The first fans have already arrived to start queueing...

16.00 GMT: Madonna is now rehearsing Jump. She stopped to give comments (similar to the rehearsal in Japan for the Blond Ambition Tour, as seen in Truth Or Dare)

16.30 GMT: Fans outside the Millenium Stadium can now hear the rehearsal of Like A Virgin.

18.30 GMT: Madonna has finished nearly 4 hour of soundchecking. She did almost all the songs of the show (except a few, like Lucky Star, Music & Drowned World).

Madonna ready for European tour (source: BBC)

Final preparations are being made as Madonna kicks off the European leg of her Confessions tour in Cardiff.

The show on Sunday at the Millennium Stadium will be the biggest arena yet for the world tour, which started in the Los Angeles in May.

Around 59,000 fans are expected for the show, the first of 21 dates across Europe, including eight in London.

Adapting her show to each venue, the singer will include an equestrian theme during the opening in Cardiff.

The star's tour director Chris Lamb, from California, has worked with Madonna for 20 years.

He and his "army" have been constructing the set in the stadium since Monday. With 150 workers over from the USA, Mr Lamb said they also employed around 200 local people.

"We've done 35 shows in America in indoor arenas, this here is the first stadium show for two years," he said. "People are not coming to see a rock concert - this is a show, closer to theatre than a rock concert."

Mr Lamb said the cost of the concert was "enormous" but added it was all relative the whole expense of the tour.

After two decades of working with Madonna Mr Lamb believes the singer will never retire. "I don't think she'll ever stop. "She's a perfectionist, focused and she knows every little thing about the show," he added. "She wants to outdo herself and challenges herself."

And with regards to the set she "comes up with the basic idea and is involved from square one."

The tour director said the set was "enormously technical" and was state of the art with its video show.

However two large silver "disco horses" backdrops placed on each side of the stage have not been approved by Madonna yet. Even though she's seen the drawings Mr Lamb awaits her verdict before they get final approval. The media, invited to the stadium on Friday, were not allowed to photograph them.

DJ Paul Oakenfold will open the Hung Up singer's concert at 1900 BST and will perform his set for around an hour and a half before Madonna's two-hour show.

There will be a "golden circle" to hold around 3,000 fans in front of the stage on a first come first serve basis.

Madonna's tour continues at Wembley Arena and finishes in Prague before it moves to Japan in September.

Stage and equipment weighs 200 tons
Eight pairs of shoes and boots and seven costumes are worn nightly by Madonna
22 dancers perform
There are 600 costumes in the show
$2m crystals embellish a giant disco ball

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