Today in Madonna History: July 7, 2007

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On July 7 2007, Madonna performed Hey You, Ray Of Light, La Isla Bonita/Lela Pala Tute and Hung Up at the Live Earth benefit concert at London’s Wembley Stadium.

Madonna was joined onstage by Gogol Bordello. It was also her final live performance to feature longtime backing singer Donna De Lory, musical director/collaborator Stuart Price, as well as drummer Steve Sidelnyk and keyboardist Marcus Brown.

Today in Madonna History: July 2, 2005

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On July 2 2005, Madonna performed Like A Prayer, Ray Of Light and Music in front of an audience of over 200,000 during the Live 8 benefit concert at London’s Hyde Park. Part of a series of concerts, many of which were held simultaneously at various locations around the world, Live 8 was broadcast live on television and radio to an estimated global audience of two billion.

Madonna is one of only eight acts – and the only female artist – to have been a headlining performer at both 1985’s Live Aid and 2005’s Live 8. Other returning performers were U2, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Sting, The Who, George Michael, and organizer, Bob Geldof. It took a bit of arm twisting on Geldof’s part to win Madonna’s commitment the second time around, as Madonna explained to MTV’s John Norris in a backstage interview after her performance:

Bob Geldof sent me a letter asking ‘will you do Live 8?’ and he didn’t really tell me anything and I went ‘Oh common dude, you gotta do better than that! Prove to me that it’s gonna make a difference and I’ll be there for you.’ And he did!”

In what turned out to be one of the event’s most moving moments, Madonna was introduced to the stage by Geldof with Birhan Woldu – the starving African child featured in the CBC News report twenty years earlier who had prompted Geldof to organize Live Aid. When Geldof had asked Woldu which artist she would like to appear with on stage, she immediately selected Madonna for the simple reason that she was the only artist on the bill that she had ever heard of. In a later interview, Woldu recalled the experience:

The crowd seemed to stretch for miles, but I’d been telling myself not to be nervous. There was just a huge picture of me as a child on the screen. That photo still upsets me. It was taken 20 years ago, when both my mother and sister died. I knew I must be strong for them but when I walked on I could feel my body shaking. Then Madonna took my hand and looked into my eyes, the crowd roared and I realised the world wanted to help my continent. I felt myself grow stronger.”

Madonna’s memorable performance at Live 8 was largely praised by mainstream media and fans alike.

Today in Madonna History: December 9, 2001

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On December 9 2001, Madonna presented the Turner Prize to artist Martin Creed at London’s Tate Britain gallery.

Madonna half-seriously plugged her greatest hits album, GHV2, before explaining her feelings of ambivalence towards the merit of awards in relation to the artistic process.

“Art is always at its best when there is no money, because art has nothing to do with money and everything to do with love. Like love, it can be inspiring, inexplicable, provocative and sometimes infuriating. Nevertheless, we can not live without it, so that is why I’m here – not because I think one artist is better than another, but because I want to support any artist who not only has something to say, but has the balls to say it. In a time when political correctness is valued over honesty, I would also like to say – right on motherfuckers! – everyone is a winner.”

Channel 4 unsuccessfully attempted to censor the speech during the live broadcast, and later issued an apology for Madonna’s choice of words, which aired prior to the 9pm watershed. Madonna later explained that she had not intended to use profanity until the producers asked to review the content of her speech prior to the broadcast, sparking her defiance.

Today in Madonna History: November 28, 2000

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On November 28 2000, Madonna performed a mini-set at London’s Brixton Academy. The show was part of the Don’t Tell Me Promo Tour, which began only two months after the birth of her second child, Rocco, and consisted of a few small club dates as well as television performances and interviews to promote the second single from her Music album. Aside from the promotional aspect, Madonna also used the club shows as an opportunity to test the waters for performing live shows again following a seven-year hiatus from touring. The Brixton gig closely mirrored her set at New York’s Roseland Ballroom several weeks earlier, with one notable exception being the addition of Holiday to the UK set-list.

The full London set-list consisted of:

  1. Impressive Instant
  2. Runaway Lover
  3. Don’t Tell Me
  4. What It Feels Like For A Girl
  5. Holiday
  6. Music

The Brixton Academy performance was streamed live across the internet to an estimated 9 million viewers.

Today in Madonna History: November 15, 2005

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On November 15 2005, Madonna’s tenth studio album, Confessions On A Dance Floor, was released in North America by Warner Bros Records. The majority of the album was co-produced and co-written by Madonna & Stuart Price, with additional contributions by Mirwais, Bloodshy & Avant, Joe Henry and Anders Bagge & Peer Åström. It featured the singles Hung Up, Sorry, Get Together and Jump.

Madonna performed a small club show at Koko in London, UK on November 15th to celebrate the album’s release, with the set being streamed online to fans around the world. The live webcast was preceded by an exclusive mini-documentary titled Confessions…On A Promo Tour.