Inside Madonna’s Celebration tour including 230ft catwalk, travelling gyms and flying ‘time machine’
MORE than 40 hits, 230ft of catwalks, 24 dancers and 17 archived costumes recreated.
Those are just some of the numbers involved in the most eagerly anticipated concert tour of the decade as Madonna returns to the stage in London tonight.
Madonna will kick off her Celebration Tour at the O2 Arena in LondonCredit: Getty – Contributor
The Queen of Pop has promised to make a spectacle of the eventCredit: Rex
The Queen of Pop will kick off her Celebration Tour at the O2 Arena and has promised a spectacle like no other.
And given she started rehearsing in New York in April, it has been a long time coming.
The show will last in excess of two hours and feature elements of more than 40 hits from her 40-year career, including Vogue, Ray Of Light and La Isla Bonita.
At 65, Madonna is pushing herself harder than ever for the tour, despite suffering leg pain and having a hip replacement after her Madame X concert series in 2020.
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She is taking three physical therapists on the road to keep her in shape, as well as three mobile gyms.
A crew of more than 200 are working on the epic production, with 25 of those dedicated to the 45 trunks of costumes.
Her musical director, Stuart Price, has described the show as a “documentary through her vast career”.
He became involved in planning the tour nine months ago and said Madonna “had a really already highly evolved storyline” which “reflected on her career, from being a young woman in New York and learning the scene, through to motherhood, spiritual awakenings and all the ups and downs.”
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He continued: “There had been consideration about doing a biopic (which gave) this tour the potential for having a documentary aspect to it as well.”
It will touch on iconic moments from throughout her career and will see her wearing reimagined versions of her most recognisable outfits, including the Jean Paul Gaultier conical bra she wore on her 1990 Blond Ambition tour.
Stuart told the BBC: “A greatest hit doesn’t have to be a song. It can be a wardrobe, it can be a video, or a statement.”
One of the most striking aspects will be an illuminated frame, representing a time machine, which will lift the superstar 30ft in the air and transport her around the arena.
It will symbolise movements into the past, present and future, as she takes the crowd through hits from different eras of her career.
The UK-based firm Strictly FX, which most recently worked on Coldplay’s stadium tour, will provide live special effects. Tait Towers, which worked on the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, has designed and constructed the stage.
There are more than 200 travelling crew, including 25 in the costume department and 3 physical therapistsCredit: INSTAGRAM
Madonna is pushing herself harder than ever for her tour, despite suffering leg pain and having a hip replacement
It is built with three layered circles, inspired by the wedding cake Madonna stood on during her performance of Like A Virgin at the 1984 MTV VMAs.
At 4,400 sq ft, the stage is her largest ever, and she will be illuminated by 14 spotlights, 600 intelligent lights and 3,600 sq ft of projection imagery.
A nod to her boxer boyfriend Josh Popper, 30, will see 40 pairs of boxing gloves incorporated into the performance.
When the tour was announced in January, 600,000 tickets were sold in the first day, making it one of the fastest-selling tours ever.
At the time, the singer said: “I am excited to explore as many songs as possible and hope to give my fans the show they have been waiting for.”
But it’s not been hiccup-free.
The tour had been due to launch in Vancouver in July, but had to be delayed after a bacterial infection put Madonna in intensive care.
Just this week, she has been rehearsing into the early hours after renting Manchester’s AO Arena to repeatedly practise the performance.
Stuart explained: “The person that is going to take the stage looks incredible, sounds incredible, performs incredible.
“Madonna has very high expectations of how much hard work people will put into something. It’s very uncompromising — but she’s equally as hard on herself.
“So when she took a break, that pause created an opportunity to further enhance the show. And I’m sure the opportunity (for her) to focus on being 100 per cent well was greatly received as well.
“When you look at a tour of this scale, it has so many moving parts, so many elements, that everything has to be highly fixed.
“But there’s one thing that’s always dynamic, and that’s Madonna herself. Her personality is so strong, her interaction with the audience is so strong, that it creates opportunities for variation from night to night.”
Despite her intense rehearsal schedule, Madonna took time out to see her son Rocco’s latest art exhibition in London on Thursday.
She was accompanied by the 23-year-old as well as kids Lourdes, 27, David, 18, and Mercy, 17, plus her designer pal Stella McCartney, 52.
The singer also has twin daughters Stella and Estere, 11, and has said four of her children will play key roles at the concerts.
Her 13th tour will kick off with six sold-out nights at the 80,000-capacity O2. The 78-date run will continue to 15 countries before it ends next April.
But for the first time in her career, the shows won’t involve a live band.
The music will be based on her original multi-track recordings.
Stuart said: “There are live musicians that perform at different parts of the show. But we realised the original recordings are our stars.
Those things can’t be replicated, so we decided to embrace that.”
Madonna fever has hit London, with The O2 flying a specially made flag.
Steve Sayer, O2’s vice president, said the gigs are “arguably the biggest UK event in pop music this year”.
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Madonna is the best-selling female artist of all time, with 330million albums shifted globally.
Now this groundbreaking tour is set to capitalise on that truly remarkable career.
17 iconic costumes have been recreated for the showCredit: Sire
The Celebration Tour is Madonna’s 13th, and comprises 78 shows in 15 countriesCredit: Getty
One Queen-sized flag will fly over the O2 while Madonna is in residence for 6 sold-out nightsCredit: Luke Dyson / COW PR
The stage is 4,400 sq ft with Uptown, Downtown, Midtown, East and West sections, 3-tiered circular stage and 230ft of catwalkCredit: INSTAGRAM
She is travelling with 3 mobile gyms, and 40 pairs of boxing gloves will be used in the gigCredit: Getty
Fans can snap up 50 items of merch like this £225 Celebration tour jacketCredit: SUPPLIED
There will be 8 humidifiers in Madonna’s dressing room and a bottle of MDNA Rose Mist Spray in each quick-change areaCredit: SUPPLIED
Madonna’s set will include more than 40 songs from over 4 decades
The show even features a ‘time-machine’ to transport Madonna around the stadium, 30ft above ground at 1.5ft per secondCredit