Today in Madonna History: October 5, 2015

On October 5 2015, Madonna’s Rebel Heart Tour stopped in Toronto for the first of two sold-out shows. Canadian singer, Nelly Furtado, was brought on stage during the show as Madonna’s Unapologetic Bitch.

Madonna had this to say on Twitter after the show:

“Thank you Nelly for being my b**ch tonight!! Hope you put that banana to good use!… #unapologeticbitch in Toronto! #rebelhearttour.”

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: 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: March 6, 1998

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On March 6 1998, Madonna spent the day in Toronto, Canada conducting a press conference and various print interviews to promote her new album, Ray Of Light, released earlier that week. She ended the day with a live, hour-long interview on Much Music hosted by VJ’s Master T (personally selected by Madonna herself after viewing reels of the station’s on-air personalities) and Geneviève Borne (a self-proclaimed Madonna fan and VJ from Much Music’s French-language sister station, Musique Plus).

The much-hyped event, which marked Madonna’s first and only visit to the Much Music studios, was prefaced by the Canadian music video channel’s second Madonnathon – a day of all-Madonna programming. The first, which featured her 1992 interview with Jonathan Ross and a then-recent press junket interview with The New Music’s Jana Lynne White (and all of her music videos), aired in January of 1993 at the height of the Sex/Erotica/Body Of Evidence backlash.

After the appearance was announced, fans seeking a limited hot spot inside the studio for the interview were asked to call in and were queried a series of Madonna-related trivia questions to prove their worthiness, while others who didn’t make it inside lined the streets of the Queen St W studios on the day of the event to welcome the Queen of Pop to Toronto.

Today in Madonna History: October 6, 2015

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On October 6 2015, Madonna had an amazing time on stage with Daniel, her honorary Unapologetic Bitch, during the Rebel Heart Tour stop in Toronto, Canada.

I couldn’t help but share some adorable screen caps of Daniel on stage with Madonna — Enjoy! – Jay

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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: July 4, 1987

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On July 4 1987, Madonna performed her Who’s That Girl show to a sold out crowd of 50,000 fans at the CNE Stadium in Toronto, Ontario.

Peter Goddard from the Toronto Star reviewed the concert and said:

“Madonna proved that she may be a lost girl in the roads of life, like her film, but she ain’t lost when she is singing. Especially during songs like ‘Papa Don’t Preach‘, her vocal prowess was substantially notable.”

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