Madonna returns to the stage, the Celebration Tour kicks off in London

The artist talks about the Israel-Hamas war: “It is so painful to witness this situation”

She’s known as the Queen of Pop, and on the opening night of her Celebration World Tour, Madonna pulled out her crown jewels. The 78-date tour in 15 countries started yesterday, Saturday 14 October 2023, from the O2 Arena in London (where four sold out concerts are scheduled) and will also arrive in Italy (23 and 25 November at the Mediolanum Forum in Assago), while in North America only from December 13th.

The concert lineup

The setlist featured 47 of her hits played in part or in full, including era-defining hits ‘Ray Of Light’, ‘Like A Prayer’ and ‘Holiday’, which the star performed wearing 17 iconic costumes recreated for the occasion. 4 of Madonna’s children also took to the huge stage.

What he said about the Israel-Hamas war

The star hinted at the infection that nearly killed her this summer (and played an acoustic version of Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’ to punctuate the moment), telling fans: “I didn’t think I would have it Done. And neither did my doctors.” And she expressed her sorrow over the situation in Israel and Palestine. “It’s so painful to witness this situation,” she said. “It breaks my heart to see children suffering, teenagers suffering, elderly people suffering. I’m sure you agree too,” she added to her fans, who came from all over Britain and beyond. Alone.

The concert, advertised as Madonna’s first live Greatest Hits, did not disappoint expectations. Aided by vintage costumes and archive footage, the pop star time-traveled through a forty-year career that has seen her become an icon, underlining the impact of her artistic journey on popular culture.

The London concert opened with the song ‘Nothing Really Matters’ from the album ‘Ray Of Light’, the lyrics of which address the fans directly: “I will never be the same again because of you.” Alone on stage, illuminated by an impressive circular lighting system (more than 600 lights on stage, including 14 spotlights on her), Madonna wore a black replica of the kimono designed by Gaultier for the song’s video.

A surprise with every song

But each song brought a surprise to the stage that recalled the period setting: from the pink bodysuit of ‘Hung Up’ to the dominatrix costumes of ‘Erotica’. The three-tier circular stage was also designed to be reminiscent of the “wedding cake” from which she performed ‘Like A Virgin’ at the 1984 MTV Awards.

In the initial part of the show, dedicated to the pre-fame years in New York, after Madonna had picked up a guitar and performed one of her first singles, ‘Burning Up’, the sound system went haywire for a few minutes. But the star, instead of leaving the stage, entertained her audience. “This is exactly what you don’t want to happen on your opening night,” she remarked. To then tell of when she lived “in the rehearsal room where my band practiced and I had no way to take a bath”. “So I dated men who had showers and baths. That’s how those days were, and that’s the truth,” she said in one of the show’s emotionally charged moments.

Another touching moment was given by Madonna when, during ‘Live To Tell’, images of the friends that Madonna lost to AIDS scrolled on the screens. ‘Vogue’ was also highly appreciated, while for ‘Crazy For You’ the 20,000 spectators in London joined in chorus. But certainly among the most touching moments there were also the interventions of the star’s children on stage: Mercy, 17 years old, accompanied her mother on the piano for ‘Bad Girl’; Stella, 11 years old, joined the choreography of ‘Don’t Tell Me’, cowboy themed like the original video clip for the song; her adopted son David played guitar during ‘Mother And Father’, the 2003 song dedicated by Madonna to the death of her mother, and which was also accompanied by images of David’s birth mother.

The closing medley included ‘Bitch’, ‘I’m Madonna’ and ‘Celebration’ to claim the role of transgressive icon, whose songs today are no longer just to be danced to but also to be studied as generational protest anthems, discovery of self and freedom.