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).

Today in Madonna History: October 25, 2004

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On October 25 2004, it was announced that Madonna would lend her voice to the cast of the animated film Arthur and the Invisibles (then titled simply Arthur), written & directed by French filmmaker Luc Besson.

The film tells the story of ten-year-old Arthur, who, while trying to save his grandfather’s house from developers, goes on a treasure hunt in the land of the Minimoys, a tiny people living in coexistence with nature, informed The Malaysia Star. According to ABC News, Arthur was adapted from a series of children’s books written by Besson, who also wrote the screenplay for the movie. Madonna was said to be voicing the part of Princess Selenia, a character who travels with Arthur to a mysterious forbidden city where an evil being dwells. “The recording is being done at the moment,” a source was quoted by ratethemusic as saying.

Madonna had previously collaborated with Besson earlier in 2004 when he directed her music video for Love Profusion. She was also in the midst of writing songs for a proposed musical film to be directed by Besson, but she later withdrew from the project after being dissatisfied by the finished screenplay.

Today in Madonna History: October 8, 2004

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On October 8 2004, Billboard announced that Madonna was the lead finalist for Billboard’s inaugural Backstage Pass Awards, in three categories:

  • Top Tour (based on gross dollars): Re-Invention Tour
  • Top Draw (based on total tickets sold): Re-Invention Tour
  • Top Boxscore Event (for a show at Madison Square Garden): Re-Invention Tour

The Backstage Pass Awards recognize the top achievements in touring (according to box office data).

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Today in Madonna History: July 19, 2004

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On July 19 2004, Jane Stevenson published this review of Madonna’s Re-Invention Tour in the Toronto Sun:

After an 11 – year absence, Madonna returned to Toronto last night with the first of three sold-out shows at the Air Canada Centre.

The 45-year-old pop icon notably didn’t bring her 2001 Drowned Tour to T.O., disappointing fans, but she seemed to have been forgiven last night judging from the roaring reception.

“Ah, it’s good to be back in Toronto,” she said towards the end of her hour-and-50-minute set. “It’s been so long. Just because I have two children doesn’t mean I don’t like to have fun.”

Believe it or not, Madonna last performed in this city in 1993 with her sexy Girlie Show Tour at SkyDome. (She mistakenly remembered her last visit as the infamous 1990 Blonde Ambition Tour saying: “The last time we were here, the police almost arrested us. I’m a good girl.”)

But back in 1993, she was a vastly different artist, single and childless, and without her new – found faith in Kabbalah, the study of a kind of Jewish mysticism that has found her choosing the Hebrew name of Esther for herself.

Not to give anyone the wrong idea.

Last night’s show — which began 45 minutes later than scheduled and found 17,000 anxious fans chanting “Madonna! Madonna!” – – was still a hi-tech, flashy and fun affair but overall more tame, and slightly preachy with plenty of Bush-bashing, anti-war messages and Hebrew references.

Like the L.A. tour launch on May 24, a select group of fans were guided into tiny pits on either side of the stage before the concert began for a first – class view of Madge, although five giant moving video screens enabled the masses farther away to get a good look at The Material Girl.

Kicking off the night with a slick, stylized video and recorded spoken – word monologue called The Beast Within, the concert really began when Madonna made her big entrance laying down on a platform that came out of the stage floor to the opening strains of her 1990 uber-hit Vogue.

She was quickly joined by nine dancers, all dressed in French period costumes, with her seven-piece band divided into two camps in the shadows on either side of the stage.

The biggest production number, however, came during the title track from her 2003 release, American Life, which saw a gleaming silver catwalk descend from above for a fashion show featuring Madonna’s dancers dressed as everything from a rabbi, a priest, a nun, an Arab, etc.

By this point, Madge — who began the night in a sparkly champagne – coloured corset top, short black shorts and knee – high black boots – – had changed into army fatigues and a black beret with the rest of her dancers brandishing rifles for army – themed choreography.

The background video, meanwhile, was sober images of victims of war ending with a Bush and Saddam Hussein look – a-likes sharing a cigar. (Similar video of children in war – torn countries was shown during her cover of John Lennon’s Imagine.)

Because this is called the Re-Invention Tour, many of Madonna’s songs were reworked, some better than others.

Often she appeared as a solitary figure on stage playing the electric or acoustic guitar on such songs as Burning Up and Material Girl or the new tune, Nothing Fails, respectively.

The weakest link in the entire show was the circus – themed third portion where, for some unknown reason, Madonna dragged out the awful Dick Tracy song Hanky Panky, and turned the normally robust dance song Deeper And Deeper into a cabaret ballad.

Thankfully,that segment was saved by a wonderfully inventive tango version of her James Bond theme song, Die Another Day, before she was placed in an electric chair for the Evita number, Lament.

Other crowd – pleasers proved to be a mix of old and new songs like Frozen, Express Yourself, Don’t Tell Me, Like A Prayer and Music.

Although Into The Groove, which featured bagpipes, drums and Madonna and her dancers in kilts, and the show – ending Holiday, complete with red – and – white confetti and another stroll down the catwalk, have to be singled out for special mention.

Madonna wraps up the North American leg on her Re-Invention Tour on Aug. 2 in Miami before heading over to Europe.

Otherwise, she plays two more shows at the ACC, tonight and Wednesday. The Toronto shows initially sold-out in a record-setting 80 minutes but more seats were released once the Re-Invention production was finalized.

Rumoured among those to be in attendance last night were Madonna’s two children — seven-year-old daughter Lourdes, a.k.a. Lola, and three-year-old son Rocco — and hubby Guy Ritchie.

Today in Madonna History: March 31, 2004

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On March 31 2004, the first teaser ad for Madonna’s upcoming Re-Invention World Tour appeared in London’s Evening Standard newspaper.

The first ad got readers wondering if Vogue would be performed in the show.  Additional ads for Like A Prayer and Music also appeared in the paper.

Today in Madonna History: March 16, 2004

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On March 16 2004, Love Profusion was commercially released in North America on CD maxi-single. In the U.S., a double 12″ vinyl edition of the maxi-single was also released one week later, on March 23rd. Written & produced by Madonna & Mirwais Ahmadzaï, Love Profusion was the fourth and final North American single release from the American Life album. In the UK, Warner chose to issue the song instead of Nothing Fails as the album’s third and final single in December, 2003.

Though lack of radio support kept Love Profusion from charting on the Hot 100 in the U.S., it nevertheless managed to top the Hot Dance/Club Play chart. North of the border, the track peaked at #3 on the Canadian singles chart.

North American pressings of the CD maxi-single included a fold-out tester square of the Estée Lauder fragrance Beyond Paradise. The television commercial for the fragrance featured the song Love Profusion – and although Madonna was replaced by supermodel Carolyn Murphy, it used the same computer-generated imagery as the music video’s “daylight” scenes. Both the video and the commercial were created simultaneously by director Luc Besson.

Today in Madonna History: March 5, 2004

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On March 5 2004, Madonna began working with Steven Klein and Craig McDean (separately) to shoot the many looks for the tour book and promotional materials for her upcoming Re-invention World Tour.

Giovanni Bianco acted as the art director for the project.  Arianna Phillips was Madonna’s stylist. Julien d’Ys did Madonna’s hair and Gina Brooke did Madonna’s makeup.