It’s impossible not to love Madonnaeven now that it is difficult to recognize her in the little girl who arrived in New York from Michigan with 35 dollars in her pocket, making her debut in 1982 with Everybodymole above the lip and groove between disco dance and R&B.
Excessive, divine, icon, queen of pop, muse, cultural force: there are no words powerful enough to describe the enormous musical and social influence had by Miss Ciccone in forty years of hits and provocations that have changed the times, with a constant forward. And to think that she almost died a few months ago and instead here she is, in full The Celebration Tour. Which, after the opening in London on October 14th, will soon be upon us Milanat the Mediolanum Forum in Assago, on November 23 and 25for two evenings of emotions, amarcord and sold out.
Her Majesty Madonna had not returned to Italy for eight years. Here’s what we can expect from the two Milanese concerts including the lineup, sidekicks on stage and reviews of the previous stages. With one certainty: for better or for worse it will be a great show. That’s so Madonna.
PAladina LGBT between emotion and provocations
She resisted performing her biggest hits for a long time in favor of new songs, always looking forward, but Madonna finally gave in. After forty years of career it is time to treat ourselves to a retrospective, spanning four decades since she was the first and only female artist with over 400 million records sold. The Celebration Tour has 78 dates in 14 countries for a two-hour show between the sacred and the profane 17 look changes, around twenty dancersover 400 square meters of stage, hundreds of spotlights and in the center she, the eternal diva.
“I’m really damn surprised to have gotten this far», said Madonna addressing the audience at the O2 Arena in the debut of London, the first of six evenings under the Elizabeth Tower, all sold out. “And I say this on many levels.” It’s still surprising, in fact, to weigh how far that ambitious, penniless little girl who wanted to try her luck at dancing got to in an era not plagued by talent shows.
“I’m damn surprised I got this far”
And it’s almost touching to see her on stage, now that most of her 80s pop colleagues are dead (at the O2 Arena there was even a short tribute to Prince). She is even more frightening when you think about the bacterial infection that hit her in June, keeping her in a coma for a few days. And here comes the audio from her speech at Billboard Women in Music in 2016: “The most controversial thing she ever did was stick around.”
TO Barcelonawhere the incomparable performed on November 1st and 2nd, Burning Up it represented the first great flash of the evening, a tribute to the concert he held at the historic rock club CBGB in New York with the Breakfast Club, when he picked up the guitar.
One of the most evocative moments to expect from his self-celebration on tour? Live to tell sung as a dedication to “all the lights we have lost due to AIDS”, as she floats above the audience on a flying platform and the screens open to show the faces of those killed by the disease: her former roommate Martin Burgoyne, artist friend Keith Haring, choreographer Christopher Flynn, photographers Herb Ritts and Robert Mapplethorpe. “It is a deeply moving tribute that highlights her many decades as an LGBTQ+ ally,” writes those who were there.
And more emotions with The good island And Don’t cry for me Argentinawho sang in Barcelona wearing the LGBTQ+ flag as cloak, while images of singers such as David Bowie, Sinéad O’Connor and Nina Simone were projected. On the occasion of Vogue here is a lively dance competition tribute to ball culture.
Obviously, voluptuousness and risqué references cannot be missing, such as the excitement that builds between Madonna and the avatar of herself as a young girl to the notes of Erotica or when the divine performs in Hung Up among topless dancers who writhe, kissing one with satisfaction at the song’s climax.
Madonna during The Celebration Tour at the O2 Arena, 15 October 2023, London
A tour with a bittersweet flavour
The Celebration Tour, however, has “a bittersweet taste”, according to the Guardian. «Madonna’s heroic choreography has long been a hallmark of her output, but she now wears a leg brace under fishnet stockings. Her movements, while fluid – she walks on chairs, rides dancers and moves loosely – are thick more gestural than acrobatic».
«I forgot five days of my life or death»
At 65 years old today Madonna is also a mother. She told the crowd in London, in collected silence, about the great scare in June, which made her recalibrate her tour: «I forgot five days of my life or my death. I really don’t know where I was, but the angels were protecting me. If you want to know my secret and how I survived, I thought, “I have to be there for my kids. I have to survive for them.” And she intoned with her usual touch of optimism I will survive by Gloria Gaynor.
His children have also been a part of the show. Accompanied on the piano by daughter Mercy JamesMadonna belted out the angsty 1993 ballad Bad girlso there Mother and father of 2003, a song about the impact of her mother’s death when she was only five years old, while her son David Banda played acoustic guitar.
Madonna on the opening night of the Celebration Tour at the O2 Arena in London, 14 October 2023
In Milan there will certainly be a new unexpected meeting between the queen and the king of pop, judged by some to be of poor and questionable taste, according to others touching: a mash-up interlude between Like a virgin by Madonna and Billie Jean Of Michael Jacksonwhile dancing silhouettes that recall the two singers in the 80s of their fruitful empires.
And meanwhile, from hit to hit, the looks of his deity Ciccone were also retraced, from the famous corset with cone bra to the Gaultier kimono to the mirrored Versace tracksuits.
«Watching a 65-year-old woman do the things she does, demonstrating that she can adapt to the times and exude such jovial and open-minded energy, is amazing», the review from Barcelona. But «we must not be fooled by idealizing; to be the tour that celebrates forty years of career, sometimes it doesn’t measure up. The feeling is that there are musical successes that have fallen by the wayside and should have been included instead. But wow, this tour is a unmissable musical eventwhich contains several eras in one.”
And here are other post-concert voices: «You can interpret the Celebration tour as a capitular: an artist in her sixties who finally admits that her story is what really matters. At the same time, however, you can interpret it as Madonna who exploit its strengths: While Like a virgin And Ray of light booming on the O2, those strengths seem very strong indeed.”
So far the criticism has been largely positive, although it has also highlighted some dubious points. Some write: “Although the narrative of the show, a journey through Madonna’s life, began vigorously, it weakened and became increasingly confusing as time passed.”
The post comments are colder Copenhagen (25 and 26 October), who described Madonna’s singing as “artificial and uninteresting, her dance sequences excessive and her oppressive theatricality». The concert? There are those who have compared it to a circus, a “long disappointment”.
The truth is probably in this review also from Denmark: «The show at the Royal Arena was ambitious, moving, funny and messy. For better or for worse. She was Madonna.”
Madonna on the second leg of the Celebration Tour at the O2 Arena in London, 15 October 2023
Madonna’s Celebration Tour setlist
What setlist to expect for November 23rd and 25th in Milan? Inevitable iconic songs such as Like a prayer And Voguehowever, it will be impossible to please everyone in the selection of songs from forty years of superstardom.
Here is the lineup of the Celebration Tour in Barcelona on November 2nd.
- Nothing really matters
- Into the groove
- Burning Up
- Open your heart
- Live to tell
- Like a prayer
- Justify my love
- Hung up
- Bad girl
- Human nature
- Crazy for you
- Die another day
- Don’t tell me
- Mother and father
- I will survive (cover of the song by Gloria Gaynor)
- The good island
- Don’t cry for me Argentina (cover of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s song)
- Bedtime story
- Ray of light
- Bitch I’m Madonna
Madonna on the opening night of the Celebration Tour at the 02 Arena, London, 14 October 2023
Who supports Madonna during the concert
He is a special guest on all tour dates Bob the Drag Queenalias Caldwell Tidicue, mistress of ceremonies who opens the concert in a gigantic rococo dress, a reference to Madonna’s Marie Antoinette look in her performance of Vogue at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards in 1990.
American singer, television personality and activist, Bob the Drag Queen is famous for having won the eighth edition of the RuPaul’s Drag Race program, a reality show which is a competition between drag queens.