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 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.

Today in Madonna History: August 29, 2004

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On August 29 2004, Madonna played to over 62,000 fans at Ireland’s Slane Castle during the only open-air performance of The Re-Invention Tour.

A fan who attended the show shared their review with Madonna fan-site Mad-Eyes.net:

“I can’t believe I’ve finally come to Ireland. Jesus Christ, what took me so fucking long!” Yesterday evening Madonna gave her first open air concert in 11 years. And Madonna didn’t disappoint. Even though it rained and she had to cover herself with a jumper sometimes, she put on a magnificent show. During the first part of the show, she wore the golden corset again. Later, while spinning during Papa Don’t Preach, she said “I’m just trying to keep myself warm!” while wearing an “Irish Do It Better” shirt. The crowd was certainly warmed up and gave her a lot of energy. When it was raining during Nothing Fails, a crew member sat on his knees on stage, covering Madonna under an umbrella while she was playing the guitar. Madonna laughed and sang “rain, rain, go away”. Because of the open air, the catwalk was present all the time and even much lower than usual, giving Madonna the chance to skim hands of the fans. The confetti for Holiday was blown into the air. As the message “Re-Invent Yourself” appeared on screen, Madonna thanked the crowd “thank you goodnight” and added “Ireland you’re the best!” Afterwards, huge fireworks broke out over the place.

Madonna herself recalled the performance in her tour documentary I’m Going To Tell You A Secret, although her recollection of the show’s attendance appeared to be slightly hazy. Billboard magazine reported ticket sales of 62,275 for the event rather than the 80,000 people capacity of the grounds.

(Thanks to Madonnalicious & their readers for the pics and to Mad-Eyes.net!)

Today in Madonna History: July 18, 2004

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On July 18 2004, Madonna played the first of three sold-out dates at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre during her Re-Invention Tour. Playing to a combined total of over 52,000 fans, the shows were the only Canadian stop on the tour and marked her first concerts in Canada in eleven years.

At the second show Madonna proclaimed to those in attendance that they were the best audience of the tour thus far, while the final Toronto date saw Madonna in an uncharacteristically playful mood. Interrupting the show’s normally swift progression between Papa Don’t Preach and Crazy For You, she joked about the infamous 1990 threats of arrest and whipped the audience into a cheering frenzy with her self-described “unprofessional” behaviour.