Today in Madonna History: December 7, 2004

On December 7 2004, Britney Spears’ collaboration with Madonna, Me Against The Music, was bestowed with the Hot Dance Sales Single Of The Year award at the Billboard Music Awards ceremony at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

 

Today in Madonna History: December 6, 2004

On December 6 2004, Madonna’s Re-Invention Tour corset made by French designer Christian Lacroix was put on display as part of the inauguration celebration of the Villa du Marais hotel. Seventeen rooms of the hotel were filled with Christian’s most impressive creations.

Madonna had two variations of the corset: gold and lilac. She wore the corset during Vogue, Nobody Knows Me and Frozen.

Today in Madonna History: November 14, 2004

On November 14 2004, Madonna was featured on the cover of Roland Users Group magazine, with the headline, “Six Roland Synths Hit the Road in Style.” The article discusses some of the talented keyboardists (Marcus Brown and Mike McKnight) who toured with Madonna during her Re-Invention World Tour, and how the music was put together for the show.

Here’s some snippets from the article (interview by Greg Rule with Marcus Brown and Mike McKnight):

A person doesn’t just fall into a high-profile tour like this. What steps led you to getting the gig with Madonna?

Mike: Back in 1990 I was taking piano lessons from John Novello, and one of his students was working in Freddie DeMann’s office — Madonna’s manager back then. She gave John and I the heads-up about the auditions. John went in to audition as a keyboardist, and I got hired as a programmer/offstage keyboardist/sequencer guy. I got the gig mainly on the word of mouth that I could play keys offstage and sequence extra musical parts. I had just finished Earth, Wind & Fire before her tour geared up.

Originally it was supposed to be only a few background vocals, and repetitive keyboard and percussion parts in the computer — an Atari 1040 ST running Dr T’s sequencer. I was hired basically during the first week of band rehearsals, and I took the gig, since it looked like I wouldn’t have to go nuts with sequencing all of the parts from the multitracks. Wrong! During my first meeting with her she made it very clear she wanted everything in the computer. Back then all I had was an Atari 1040 and six 8MB samplers for playback, so while three were playing, three were loading up for the next song. It was nuts, but I pulled it off, and have been there for every tour since.

Marcus: I’d been working in England with Richard Ashcroft from The Verve. He’d done the support slot for Madonna when we she’d come to town a few years prior. Also, Steve, the drummer in Madonna’s band, had worked with Richard, so there was a bit of a connection there. When she was putting the band together for the Drowned World tour, my name came up, and that’s pretty much how it happened. No audition; I didn’t have to stand there and play Chopin or anything like that [grins]. I think it was more or less taken for granted that I could play.

With this kind of job, you have to get on with the people you work with, so a lot of it is about style and personality as well. We all came from a similar place. I was familiar with Steve’s work, and [musical director] Stuart Price’s as well, so it all came together nicely. I basically walked in and we got on with it. We started right away.

Describe steps you went through leading up to launch of the Re-invention tour.

Mike: I began programming for this tour while I was out on the road with Mariah Carey — just putting the files in order, making sure I had all the parts I needed. Stuart Price and I got to L.A. a week before rehearsal to begin putting together the arrangements. Stuart is a very good remixer and musician, and M expected him to “re-invent” many of her big hits from the ’80s and ’90s for this tour. I jumped in where I was needed, but Stuart did most of the arrangements. My main job was to put all of the possible versions into the computer for fine-tuning and rehearsal with M. She would come in and sometimes love the direction and sometimes would suggest other directions, and she usually wanted to hear her “vision” right away, which made my job “interesting” at times, but we got through it. She’s tough but fair, so it wasn’t too bad really.

Were strong sight-reading skills required for this gig?

Marcus: We haven’t typically had the music written out, unless something got thrown at us quickly, in which case we had a pile of those guitar chord-books for grabbing a basic chord structure.

The main way we’ve approached the tracks is … Stuart creates a sort of remixed version of a song in his studio, and plays it for Madonna. If she likes the version, he separates the parts into a multitrack session, and then we stand around and say, “Okay, I’ll do that bit, you do that line there, Steve can handle this part. etc.” We’d basically strip away as much as possible from the mix, and perhaps only leave a couple of little things here and there that we couldn’t physically do. Then we start getting sounds together and rehearsing the song.

Mike, You’ve been Madonna’s “right-hand man” on every tour for 10-plus years. What things have you learned that are invaluable to your survival on this gig?

Mike: Just to be prepared for everything. I have to have several versions of each song ready, as well as to be constantly thinking ahead to what she might ask for to spice up the arrangement. It’s important to have backups in several places, and to keep every variation ready just in case she decides to go back a version or two. In short — just think ahead and pay attention.

Final thoughts about life on the road with perhaps the most famous woman in the world?

Mike: Madonna is the ultimate touring experience; nobody else even comes close. She hires the best people, and the tour is run like a well-oiled machine with none of the stupidity I’ve become accustomed to on other tours. She works everyone very hard, but she expects as much of herself as anyone else on tour, so it’s cool. It just doesn’t get better than this.

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.

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