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iReview | MADONNA The Celebration Tour (Part 2)

A Pop Music Concert Event Feature

The party comes to a rapturous end, but the celebration continues as The Queen of Pop sets to close her spectacular first four decades of music revelation with a once-in-a-lifetime concert experience in Rio…and it’s free!


The spectacle that is the undisputed Queen of Pop, Madonna and her recent retrospective live show The Celebration Tour has completed its landmark run. Four decades of music that changed the world and forever redefined popular culture, as experienced by the artist at the center of that evolution, launched her phenomenal “greatest hits” music extravaganza in the fall of 2023 (after a personal health scare that forced most of the tour’s early itinerary to be revisited) ended on April 26th in Mexico City, with the last show 5 shows playing at Palacio De Los Deportes.

Determined to outdo even herself, Madonna will not be hanging up her performance wigs just yet. She’s recently announced that to mark the success of such a feat, the celebration will play on, for at least one more time.

Madonna is gifting the world, and bringing the party to the largest dance floor on the planet presenting The Celebration Tour from Brazil, Rio De Janeiro’s Copacabana Beach on May 4th. As a “thank you” to all her fans, the show will be free (first come, first served) and the historic one-time event will be television on TV Globo. Inevitably, this will be regarded as perhaps the most profound moment of the artist’s career, closing a chapter of a historic career, that is still moving quicker than a ray of light.

The Celebration Tour, inspired largely by the career-spanning “greatest hits” package Finally Enough Love: 50 Number Ones which collected her chart-topping dance tracks. Many of the songs are considered Madonna’s most influential and among her fan’s most revered, are dedicated to the dance floor — the platform by which the ambitious trailblazer set out “to rule the world”. She embraced a genre and an audience that was largely considered on the fringes of popular and infused pop music with an energy that transcended and has remained relevant ever since.

On stage, Madonna has performed for hundreds of thousands of her fans. Her stage shows revolutionized the pop star music concert, forever altering the format. She has often taken the opportunity to mount her performance promoting her latest album efforts, The Celebration Tour marked a significant departure from that form. On the suggestion of those in her circle, this tour would spotlight “the hits”, just the way they were first heard and made popular, against the narrative unspooling her journey into the hearts of her audience.

The Celebration Tour would reflect just that — a celebration of The Queen of Pop’s four decades in music, an astounding big of artistry that only Madonna could have conceived of.

The stage is set for "Die Another Day".
The stage is set for "Die Another Day".

The Setlist: Strikes a Pose

The Celebration Tour was appropriately launched in New York City’s Barclays Center in Brooklyn returning to the city that started it all — evolving over 2 hours plus a setlist that was engineered to transport the audience on a trip through time, all the way back to the early 80s. Unlike her previous tours that traditionally stuck to a four-act format, The Celebration Tour was conceived in seven acts, each dedicated to replicating an era in Madonna’s life and times. By the conclusion of Act III of the show, Madonna has crescendoed out of her “Sex” era and moved into the icon status of her career.

Act IV

  • “Vogue”

  • “Human Nature”

  • “Crazy For You”

It’s no surprise that the act launches with the artist’s signature track “Vogue”! The backdrop imagery is made grand and profound by moments from the black and white video featuring the supporting cast of dancers that toured during “Blond Ambition”. The moment is also made more spectacular by incorporating vocals from Beyoncé’s hit “Break My Soul” that mashed up the two songs, as Madonna in a sparkling bustier (that changed often during the run of the tour) took to the runway. Paying homage to the underground balls that inspired the track, Madonna with a celebrity guest handed out “10s”!

The moment is quite celebratory to be certain, which is interesting in that right after such a high-energy point of the show, it dovetails into her a surreal police raid with her dancers dressed as S&M-styled cops and a twisted and violent interpretation of “Human Nature”. Madonna is cuffed, beaten, and abused — the statement relating to the treatment that many in the LGBTQ+ community experienced. Bars and underground clubs were often broken up by the authorities until the communities fought back as in the Stonewall riots.

"Don't Tell Me"
"Don't Tell Me"

The scene is disrupted and Madonna is rescued by a version of herself as she appeared in the video for “Human Nature”, and serenades herself with “Crazy For You” in the dark. Suddenly the stage is lit in flames and Madonna disappears after striking a defiant final pose. The video monitors reveal images that were part of the video exhibition for “X-Static Process” and also was used during the intro for The ReInvention Tour with the infamous remix of “Justify My Love (The Beast Within Mix)” playing over the speakers. The macabre scene ends, and Madonna is heard asking the audience: “What are you gonna do?”

The Setlist: Act V & Act VI

Act V

  • “Die Another Day”

  • “Don’t Tell Me”

  • “Mother and Father”

  • “I Will Survive” (Gloria Gaynor cover performed acoustically) was replaced with “Express Yourself”

  • “La Isla Bonita”

  • “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” (would drop in and out of tour setlist)

While pop music pursued a manufactured means heralding the boy bands and pop princesses that serviced the demand of the demographic,  at the turn of the millennium, Madonna in the late 90s and into the early 2000s began to experiment with new sounds and technologies. She also partnered with new producers and collaborated with songwriters that challenged the conventions of what was “radio-friendly”. Madonna’s music also became much more thematic, as exampled by “Die Another Day” performed in rhythmic synchronization with her troupe, all in dark robes and hats.

When she sheds her outer coat she reveals a “rebel” at heart, with a sparkling, cowboy get-up that leads into “Don’t Tell Me”. The hit song is performed with her son, David on guitar. Madonna’s children are all performers in The Celebration Tour. Although this is a rather wonky transition into what is largely the second half of the show, this act allows Madonna to share with the audience. She emotes recent details of her recent health issues, and her gratitude for the decades of support her audience has always shown her. It culminates with an acoustic version of the Gloria Gaynor hit,  “I Will Survive”.

Madonna is most flexible with this portion of the show, which includes full versions of the intimate ballad “Mother and Father” with images filling the monitors of her own family along with various historical figures who have inspired her. She has replaced “I Will Survive” with her hit “Express Yourself”, and segued into a rousing version of the crowd-pleasing “La Isla Bonita” which on some dates was coupled with “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” from Evita. This segment of the show is serviceable, at best, but lacks some of the congruency expected. It feels cobbled in but plays well.

It leads us into the next act which is far more prescient and appropriately futuristic…

A Shiny Madonna
A shiny Madonna!

Act VI

  • “Bedtime Story”

  • “Ray of Light”

  • “Rain”

As the show moves into the final two acts of the evening, Madonna is preparing to turn up the volume and give the audience the spectacle that they’ve been waiting for. The sixth portion of the show moves things well into the future, with a dazzling landscape that takes up the video monitors as a glitter-balled inspired catsuit adorns the star with a medusa of long blonde hair blowing in the wind. She falls to the front of the stage as a 3-dimensional cube rises around her and she goes into “Bedtime Story”, before launching into the sonic tension of “Ray of Light”. It’s an unparalleled amount of energy!

The release of which is brought home with a rendition of the emotive ballad “Rain” again on a darkened stage with Madonna in a flowing black, balloon cape that wraps her up. In some cities, “Frozen” was also included in this set which fit perfectly into the mood of it all with visuals from the video accompanying her on stage. The lights drop once more as Madonna disappears only to be replaced by the opening notes of a very familiar tune…


The Final Act


  • “Billie Jean” / “Like a Virgin” (video Interlude)

  • “Bitch I’m Madonna”

  • “Celebration”

Her relationship with pop icon Michael Jackson has been murky and locked stock in innuendo. To Madonna’s “queen,” there could only be one “king, and that is a title earned well by Jackson, regardless of the scandals and controversies that followed the artist. To Madonna, Jackson was an inspiration and the standard by which she measured her meteoric climb into the icon that she is today. Sadly, like Prince, who is also paid a tribute during the “Like a Prayer” moment, Jackson is no longer with us, but Madonna connects the two with a shadow dance performed to a mash-up of two of their hits.

The silhouette of Jackson is perfect, rake thin and fedora hat, with the moves to match, and he’s joined by a Madonna-lookalike in vintage 80s “Like a Virgin”. The two move effortlessly through the interlude, which closes with the marquee reading: “Never Can Say Good-Bye.” It’s a significant moment to mark, and regardless of how one might feel about Jackson, his influence in Madonna’s life, goes without saying.  It is very interesting to note, that in a segment that marks all the “loves of her life” MJ is represented in the montage.

Following the interlude, all hell breaks out on stage as the bombastic cheers that make up the track “Give Me All Your Luvin’” also herald the arrival of the Many-Madonnas to the stage. A parade of the icon’s wildest and most notorious looks goes on full display, her troupe of dancers all fitted properly into vintage looks that mark moments in her four decades. It’s an overwhelming assault on the senses, to say the least, that leads to the final songs of the evening. Madonna finally appears and goes into “Bitch I’m Madonna” concluding in a final goodbye set to the dance song “Celebration”.

Bidding her audience a good night, the Queen is gone, though the excitement generated lingers.

#StayTuned for a supplementary feature focused on Madonna’s career-defining The Celebration Tour as it hit Rio De Janeiro for a landmark closing performance in front of more than 1 million of her fans to commemorate her four decades in music.

THE CELEBRATION TOUR FOUR DECADES 2023-2024 | Madonna | has concluded its historic and record-breaking run with a closing show on the beach of Copacabana in Rio De Janeiro on May, 4th, 2024. The event which was free and open to the public was reported to have been attended by more than 2 million spectators and was broadcast on TVGlobo.

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