Madonna still rocks and rules the world of pop – her sold-out Drowned World tour has set fans alight and sparked rave reviews.
On the first date of the global tour two weeks ago the “Material Mom” had a capacity crowd at Barcelona’s Palau Sant Jordi at her spike-heeled feet – and she delivered.
From behind the cavorting bodies of dancers, the queen of pop glided onto the stage – hailed by critics as one of her most sophisticated yet.
Flying through the air on trapeze wire, riding a mechanical bull and donning a punk-inspired kilt in honor of her film director husband Guy Ritchie’s Scottish roots – Madge does it all with panache.
“It’s eight years since Madonna last ravished a stadium full of fans, but nothing can diminish her power,” London’s venerable Times raved after the Barcelona concert.
In London, the well-oiled Madonna publicity machine gave fans a ray of light by putting up extra tickets for sale on Friday for her six gigs at Earls Court in July.
The tickets were snapped up in 12 minutes, organizers said.
On July 4, the night her tour comes to the UK, the BBC will show a documentary on Britain’s close relationship with the diva, which she cemented last year when she wed Ritchie in the sleepy Scottish town of Dornoch.
The Drowned World tour is massive.
It took two 747 jumbo jets to fly the sets, lighting rigs and sound equipment from Los Angeles to Europe and eight trucks are needed to haul it from venue to venue.
There are nearly 200 people on the payroll for each performance, with 100 recruited locally.
NOTHING COMPARES TO HER
At $120 for a first-class seat at Earl’s Court, Madonna commands top dollar – but to her adoring fans she’s worth every penny.
“She’s a goddess – nothing and no-one compares to her,” Susan Taylor, a 38-year old software designer from London, told Reuters.
The queen of pop knows how to choose her moments.
During her Milan concert she dedicated her song “Gone” to Gianni Versace, the fashion designer murdered in Miami in 1997. It was just in time to send the 20,000-strong crowd into near-delirium.
Another sign of Madonna mania emerged when fans bombarded a German Web site offering a ticket to a sold-out concert in exchange for sex.
POP’S LONGEST-SERVING CHAMELEON
Forty-three in August, Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone has two young children, but she does not have the air of a “Mrs.,” or “Missus,” as husband Guy refers to her.
Even her detractors admit she has always stayed one step ahead of the game in the fiercely competitive world of pop.
After two decades at the top of pop, she has amassed a $200 million fortune.
Critics say she has courted controversy at every stage of her extraordinary career – the provocative Like A Virgin video, the twisted religious imagery during her Like A Prayer phase, and the outrageous triple whammy of the Erotica album, Body Of Evidence film and Sex book.
To her fans she will always be the “Bad Girl” that gave the world “Like a Virgin” – and the conical bra designed by Jean Paul Gaultier that she wore during her 1990 “Blonde Ambition” tour – condemned by the Vatican as “one of the most satanic shows in the history of humanity.”