Today in Madonna History: August 26, 2001

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On August 26 2001, Madonna Live! Drowned World Tour 2001 was broadcast live on HBO and The Movie Network in Canada from The Palace Of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, MI. It was seen by 5.7 million viewers – the network’s third highest rated prime-time concert special since 1997.

The broadcast marked the second time Madonna had selected her hometown as a location to record one of her shows, the first being The Virgin Tour home video/laserdisc release, filmed in 1985 at Cobo Arena in Detroit.

With the Drowned World Tour itinerary not including any dates in Canada, many Canadian fans who purchased tickets for one of the two shows in Detroit were pleasantly surprised when it was announced that the second show would be broadcast live in both countries. Madonna’s previous HBO specials for the Blond Ambition and Girlie Show tours did not receive a live broadcast in Canada, although the latter did air on MuchMusic at a later date.

Today in Madonna History: July 28, 1990

hanky panky 550

On July 28 1990, Hanky Panky hit its peak position of number-ten on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.

The rarely seen official video for Hanky Panky was recorded at the May 27th 1990 concert in Toronto, Canada. Rather than use live audio from the tour, Warner opted to overdub the live performance with the album version. The video was broadcast for a few weeks and then withdrawn from rotation in most countries. Although no official reason was given, it is assumed that due to the low-budget nature of the video, it was only ever intended to serve as an initial promotional push for the song, with its subsequent withdrawal from rotation being part of the plan.

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: July 3, 1987

Canadian Diamond Award True Blue 1987 (2)Canadian Diamond Award True Blue 1987 (1)

On July 3, 1987, Madonna accepted a rare Canadian Diamond Award at a press conference in Toronto on the eve of her sold-out concert at CNE Stadium. The certification award was presented by WEA Music Canada president Stan Kulin to mark over one million units sold of the True Blue album in Canada.

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.

Today in Madonna History: May 27, 1990

On May 27 1990, Madonna played the first of three shows at the Toronto Skydome during her Blond Ambition Tour. The shows were Madonna’s only Canadian dates for the tour.

I was fortunate enough to have attended this show when I was twelve years old. Not only was it my first Madonna live experience, it was my first live concert experience. The morning tickets went on sale my mom was working out-of-town so she let me skip sixth-grade for the morning and I headed downtown to Sunrise Records…I managed to score two 100-level tickets directly facing the stage. I don’t think the word “excited” would sufficiently describe how elated I was to be going to see Madonna. The next two months felt like the longest two months of my life, but I couldn’t have been happier. I watched the Ciao Italia! concert on VHS daily during the lead-up, hoping that the new tour would be equally good. Needless to say it far exceeded my expectations – and my mom’s as well! We had the best time dancing and singing and just being utterly blown away by the spectacle. I couldn’t have asked for a better first concert experience, or for a better memory. Much love to the two M’s for making it possible! – Justin

Today in Madonna History: May 23, 1985

Madonna receives Canadian sales award Maple Leaf Gardens-Toronto-1985 (550)

On May 23 1985, Madonna accepted a Canadian Quadruple Platinum certification award for shipment of over 400,000 copies of her second album, Like A Virgin, within Canada. The award was presented by WEA Canada’s VP of sales Garry Newman to Madonna and Sire Records president Seymour Stein prior to her sold-out Toronto concert at Maple Leaf Gardens.

Like A Virgin was eventually certified (in July, 1992) with the rare Canadian Diamond certification for shipment of over one million copies in Canada. The only other Madonna album to date to receive Diamond certification in Canada is True Blue, which managed to achieve the feat within a year of its release. To date, only eighteen albums in total (by any artist or musical group) have received a Diamond certification in Canada.

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