Today in Madonna History: July 19, 2004

On July 19 2004, the first of three shows at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre during Madonna’s Re-Invention Tour was reviewed by Angela Pacienza of the Canadian Press:

TORONTO (CP) – The original Material Girl strutted, writhed and wriggled Sunday, showing her fans she still had the goods to compete with performers half her age.

Madonna’s concert, the first of three in Toronto, was an over-the-top theatrical production complete with costume changes, choreographed dance numbers and an ever-changing stage. After an awkward, avant-garde video display where she appeared to turn into a wolf, the 45-year-old singer opened with Vogue, her tribute to New York club life. Dressed in a glittery corset, black short-shorts and knee-high boots, Madonna sashayed from one end of the stage to the next with the help of a moving sidewalk – a conveyer-belt built into the entire front section of the stage. Aptly titled the Re-Invention Tour, the set went through several incarnations, at times appearing as a Renaissance painting, a war field, a circus, a traditional concert stage with a full band in the centre and finally, a dance club. Moving parts included a V-shaped catwalk that dropped down on top of the floor seats, giving Madonna greater access to fans at the back end of the Air Canada Centre.

It’s been 11 years since Madonna’s strutted on a Canadian stage and fans showed they’ve been patiently waiting with thunderous applause throughout the show. “It’s good to be back, Toronto,” she told more than 16,000 fans who paid up to $300 – considerably more than the top-ticket price of $55 for her 1993 stop. “Just because I’ve changed my ways doesn’t mean I don’t still like to have fun.” She briefly mentioned a run-in with Toronto police in 1990, when officers investigated reports of lewd acts during her concert. “I’m a good girl,” she purred.

The Material Girl has re-invented herself dozens of times since she left her Michigan working-class home in the late 1970s. Her most memorable persona was the sex-crazed diva, a harbinger of the current generation of pop music tarts. She offered the crowd some of that sauciness on Sunday with suggestive dance moves – although the show was relatively tame compared to her former self. Instead of sexual provacativeness, she filled the two-hour set with religious iconography. An illustration of Jesus was her backdrop for Mother And Father. She wore a T-shirt with the words Kabbalists Do It Better during Papa Don’t Preach.

Madonna’s calmed down considerably in recent years, with her current role of demure mother, children’s book author and spiritual practitioner. The show seemed structured to show off Madonna’s new maturity, urging people to think about government, religion and world events, rather than push the usual buttons with simulated sex scenes. Her fans didn’t seem to mind and said they continue to support her chameleon career.

Carla Filoso drove from Ottawa for the show. “She’s probably the most influential artist of our time,” gushed the 24-year-old, who spent $300 on her floor seat ticket. “She’s re-invented herself about 100 times.” Natalie Michaud thought the ’80s icon was worth buying a ticket from a U.S. scalper for $700 US. On top of that price, the 25-year-old psychology student flew from Grand Falls, N.B. with her boyfriend for the show. “I grew up with her. I love her,” she gushed from her floor seat.

Madonna didn’t disappoint, working her way through the maze of past hits with confident ease, even finding inventive, modern ways to interpret her ’80s songs. Express Yourself saw her treat a rifle like a baton, twirling it round and round and giving the song a more political slant. Burning Up, a syrupy pop ditty from her first record, became a bold, new wave rock song. Wielding an electric guitar, Madonna belted out her signature song, Material Girl to some of the loudest screams of the night. Other hits included Frozen, Into The Groove and Crazy For You.

Madonna, who found time earlier in the day to stop in at the city’s Kabbalah Centre, proved herself a versatile performer, putting on a Vegas-style show that left the audience panting right until the red-and-white confetti sprayed overtop during the finale, her song Holiday – the singer’s first Top 40 hit back in 1983. With a huge library of songs to choose from, Madonna seemed to have picked one to represent her many image makeovers. Lament, from Evita, showed a bit of the sophisticated lady. Like A Prayer was her first religious foray. Hanky Panky, from the film Dick Tracy, reminded fans of Madonna’s many attempts to conquer acting. Her button-pusher attitude was let loose during American Life, with dancers dressed like soldiers attacking others dressed as religious figures including a nun and a rabbi.

She performs again Monday and Wednesday. The three Toronto shows are her only stops in Canada. Her tour ends in Lisbon in mid-September.

Today in Madonna History: June 30, 1997

On June 30 1997, Madonna began recording sessions for what would become her Ray Of Light album at Larrabee North Recording Studios, Universal City, Los Angeles.

Madonna had already spent several months writing songs and producing demos with Patrick Leonard, Rick Nowels and Babyface (although none of the Babyface material would make the final cut) by the time she entered the studio with co-producers William Orbit and Marius De Vries. Leonard would return to the project to assist with arrangements, earning him a co-producer’s credit on four of the album’s tracks. Madonna would add lyrics and melody to at least a half-dozen previously composed Orbit demos during these sessions as well, with six of their songs making the final track list.

Today in Madonna History: June 24, 2015

On June 24 2015, Liz Rosenberg, Madonna’s publicist since the very beginning of her professional career, announced her retirement:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELIEF Liz Rosenberg Media will be closing our offices at the end of June. After more than two centuries of being in the publicity game, taking care of more than a few one-namers, a few thousand wanna-be’s, several not a chance in hell and lots in between, I’ve decided it’s time to take a very long, extended and well deserved break. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved all my adventures and I’ve had enough for many lifetimes. I’ve been unbelievably lucky to have a front row seat to some of the most incredible moments in music and pop-culture history. And let us not forget, I also had my share of begging, waiting, explaining, crying, juggling, keeping secrets, lying on very rare occasions – maybe twice tops, being punched by paparazzi, dancing on ceilings, scraping people off the floor – including myself and oh so much more. I send a huge, wet, juicy kiss from my lips to yours to all of the many people my heart beats for – you know who you are – a hug or warm handshake to those I don’t know as well and blessings to everybody. Shalom y’all. ^ ^ Liz Rosenberg

We’d like to send a huge, wet, juicy kiss and a long overdue tip of the hat to the incomparable, unbeatable and unstoppable Liz Rosenberg for her decades of hard work, guidance, dedication and loyalty – not only to Madonna and the many other artists she’s worked with, but also to us – Madonna’s fans. This fierce, firefighting wonder woman of “publicity” (to term it modestly) was instrumental in bringing Madonna’s music and message to the masses and keeping it there for the next thirty years and beyond. Cutting through mainstream media crap (not to mention paparazzi) like nobody’s business, Liz also took palpable pride in keeping fans informed of the real deal when the press got it wrong (which in Madonna’s case was more often than not), and she did it with style, smarts and a self-deprecating wit that allowed us – and we would suspect Madonna, too – to find levity during some brutally heavy shit-storms. While it clearly takes something extra special to not only survive but thrive in the eye of the unending judgement and scrutiny that such fame brings, the centre simply could not hold without the extra special support and mentorship of a grounding, stabilizing force. Don’t think for a second that we didn’t notice and appreciate all that you did, Liz. Thank you! This joint is for you! xx

Today In Madonna History: June 22, 1985

On June 22 1985, Angel/Into The Groove spent its second week at #1 on the Hot Maxi-Single Sales chart (then titled 12 inch Single Sales). It also inched its way closer to the top of the Hot Dance/Club Play chart (then titled simply Club Play), moving from #3 to #2.

Mainly driven by the popularity of Into The Groove (which was available exclusively on the Angel maxi-single in North America) with its heavy rotation on MTV, in clubs and its prominent appearance in the hit film Desperately Seeking Susan, the release would spend a total of twelve weeks in the top-5 of the Hot Maxi-Single Sales chart, including seven non-consecutive weeks at #1. Being a niche format that rarely generated enough mainstream interest to earn certification-level sales, Angel/Into The Groove has the distinction of being only the fourth maxi-single in history be certified Gold in the U.S.

In Canada, interest in Into The Groove prompted Warner Music Canada to issue Madonna’s first North American cassette maxi-single in addition to the standard 12 inch vinyl. The experiment clearly proved successful, as Warner Music Canada would continue to offer her subsequent releases in both formats several years before the U.S. followed suit.