Today in Madonna History: September 14, 2004

On September 14 2004, the final show of Madonna’s Re-Invention Tour took place in Lisbon, Portugal.

The Lisbon concert was recorded and considered for release on DVD but these plans were unfortunately shelved. However, a rough cut leaked on the internet several years later. To date this remains the only complete, professionally shot recording of the tour available to fans.

Today in Madonna History: August 15, 2004

On August 15 2004, Madonna performed the second sold-out Re-Invention Tour show at the Manchester Evening News Arena in Manchester, England.

Today in Madonna History: July 27, 2004


On July 27 2004, Madonna’s management issued a press release confirming that Madonna would be adding a concert in Lisbon to the Re-Invention Tour itinerary:

Lisbon Concert Press Release July 27, 2004 RE-INVENTION WORLD TOUR 2004 LISBON CONCERT CONFIRMED! 13-SEPTEMBER PAVILHAO ATLANTICO Lisbon, Portugal

The wait is finally over, the rumours are confirmed for the first time ever Portuguese fans will get their chance to see Madonna’s Re-Invention World Tour later this summer. The tour which is currently sweeping through North America to rave reviews before launching in Europe on August 14th is confirmed to play Pavilhao Atlantico on 13-September, 2004. By both artistic and commercial standards Madonna’s Re-Invention Tour is a smash hit. The New York Times called Monday’s sold-out debut, “Dense, dizzying exhilarating.” The London Sun said, “Today’s generation of Pop Idol wannabees should listen, learn and take note from a woman who has no intention of handing over her crown for a good few years yet”, and Rolling Stone said: “She’s putting more love and genuine passion into her spectacle than ever.” Madonna is both a multi-Grammy Award winner and a multi MTV Award winner and has sold well over 250 million albums during the span of her extraordinary two-decade career. In addition, she has had more Top Ten Singles than any female artist in history – second only to Elvis Presley.

By popular demand a second concert on September 14th would later be added, becoming the final date of the tour.

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: May 25, 2004

On May 25 2004, Rolling Stone magazine published a review of Madonna’s Re-Invention World Tour with the headline, “Madonna Reinvents herself. Amid images of war and peace, pop star shows she can sing.”

Here’s the review by Barry Walters:

After twenty years in the limelight, Madonna is expected to cause controversy and reinvent herself for every new tour. So for the May 24th Los Angeles opening of her Re-Invention world trek, Madonna did the most unexpected thing she could: She came back as a great concert singer.

Even the most diehard Madonna fan will concede that her live performances have almost without exception been plagued by a multitude of missed notes, breathy passages, and, as of late, fake British accents. But while Mariah and Whitney have of been losing the acrobatic vocal dexterity and lung power on which their reputations rest, forty-five-year-old Madonna, whom few have ever taken seriously as a musician, has never sounded better than she did during the first of several gigs in her adopted West Coast home. Whether rocking out with classic black Les Paul in hand during a metallic rendition of her early club hit “Burning Up,” or performing “Like a Prayer” behind a screen-projected gospel choir, Madonna belted, and did not once seemed strained. In the midst of a $1 million production festooned with a walkway that jutted out from the stage and over the audience, massive moving video screens, a dozen dancers, a bagpipe player, a stunt skateboarder and a whole lot of emotionally charged anti-war imagery, the focus was nevertheless on Madonna, and how she’s matured into a truly great pop singer.

Opening with a yoga-trained twist on her famous Louis XIV-inspired MTV Video Music Awards rendition of “Vogue” and ending on a kilt-wearing finale of “Holiday” against a video backdrop of national flags that eventually morphed into one, the show was thematically simpler and more focused than her last several productions.

The barbarism of war and the necessity of love were at the heart of the entire show, and both played off each other, sometimes for ironic and decidedly uneasy effect. The original military-themed video footage of “American Life” that the singer withheld at the start of the Iraq war was finally unveiled, and then expanded upon during “Express Yourself,” where Madonna sang her anthem of unbridled, intimate communication in front of dancers dressed as soldiers and goose-stepping with twirling rifles.

By contrast, Madonna closed an extended acoustic section of the show with a straightforward and thoroughly committed rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine” as images of war and poverty-ravaged children eventually gave way to footage of a Muslim boy and his Israeli counterpart smiling as they walked with their arms wrapped around each other.

The heaviness of much of the imagery was balanced by Madonna’s own presence, which seemed remarkably fun-loving and self-assured for the opening night of her most technically complex production. Only when she strapped on an acoustic or electric guitar during several songs and repeatedly glanced at her left hand to make sure it was playing the proper chords did she seem at all nervous. “How many people out there really think that I am the Material Girl?” she asked during a break in her most iconic early smash as she strummed with much deliberation.

For the last several songs, Madonna and her dancers donned black and white kilts, an apparent nod to husband Guy Ritchie’s Scottish heritage, and black T-shirts that read “Kabbalists Do It Better,” a cheeky reference to both her religious studies and the “Italians Do It Better” T-shirt she wore during her video for “Papa Don’t Preach,” a song that was performed without the “near-naked pregnant women” described in pre-tour reports of the show. In a number dedicated for the “fans that’ve stood by me for the last twenty years,” she sang her earliest hit ballad, “Crazy For You,” earnestly and without contrivance.

Madonna’s continued relevance was impressive, but it was even more striking that she’s putting more love and genuine passion into her spectacle than ever.

 

Today in Madonna History: January 30, 2004

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On January 30 2004, Madonna’s Official Fan Club (ICON) and Madonna.com published a fan club exclusive photo book titled, Nobody Knows Me. The 52-page soft cover photo book featured previously unreleased photos (spanning her career).

Here’s what Liz Rosenberg had to say when asked to comment on a highlight she witnessed in Madonna’s career:

“Highlights? There’s just too many.

It’s a highlight for me just to dance around the living room to Deeper and Deeper. And also when we played Vogue at a club for the first time.

The list goes on and on and I’m thrilled to have had a front row seat to most of it.”

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Today in Madonna History: November 14, 2004

On November 14 2004, Michael Colombier – the composer/arranger who produced the beautiful string arrangements for Madonna’s songs Die Another Day, Don’t Tell Me & Easy Ride, and composed the soundtrack for Swept Away (perhaps the film’s most memorable attribute) – passed away at age 65.

Colombier was one of the most prolific and versatile French musicians of his generation. Besides his career as a film composer scoring over 100 feature, cable and television films since the early 1960’s – Colombier was a prolific songwriter and arranger who worked with artists such as Joni Mitchell, Prince, Serge Gainsbourg, The Beach Boys, Herbie Hancock, Air, Barbra Streisand & Earth Wind And Fire.

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As a film composer, Michel Colombier scored many French and American films, including The Golden Child, Ruthless People, New Jack City, How Stella Got Her Groove Back and The Money Pit. His background in jazz was evident in the majority of his film scores, and his ability to compose original score music that merged seamlessly with pop songs made him the perfect composer for 1980’s films with song-heavy soundtracks, including White Nights, Against All Odds and Purple Rain (which won a Grammy Award as well as an Academy Award for Best Original Score).

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