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: 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.”

Today in Madonna History: May 28, 1990

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On May 28 1990, Madonna played the second of a three show run at the Skydome in Toronto, Canada during her Blond Ambition Tour.

As the story goes, the concert on May 28th was attended by a Toronto police detective who became uncomfortable with Madonna’s simulated sexual theatrics. The detective complained to the Crown attorney, who became convinced–based on how it had been described–that the show on the 29th should not be permitted to proceed with similar content.

Supt. Frank Bergen was one of the constables sent to follow up on the complaint on May 29th, which was subsequently captured in Madonna’s film Truth Or Dare. Bergen recalled the events in a recent interview with The Canadian Press:

What I was struggling with was how do you go to the microphone and tell everyone the show is cancelled? My role and my position was we were not going to shut the show down. We were portrayed as being real knobs, if you will [in the documentary]. I don’t think we were…I don’t think we ever got to the (point), nor would we have, where we walked up onto the stage – and onto her bed – and handcuffed her. Then we would’ve been part of a different history.”

It took a year before the officer would hear about his cinematic debut in Truth or Dare, when one afternoon his teenage neighbour excitedly shouted across the backyard that he’d spotted him on the big screen.

Bergen said he respects concerns over obscenity but concedes it would’ve been difficult to satisfy a “loose interpretation of the Criminal Code.”

Today in Madonna History: May 23, 1985

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On May 23 1985, Madonna performed her Virgin Tour concert in front of a sold-out crowd of 16,000 fans at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens. The show generated $238,264 in ticket sales.

Here’s a great photo of the Beastie Boys hanging outside Maple Leaf Gardens before the show (on Church Street just north of Carlton):

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Maple Leaf Gardens was primarily a hockey and concert venue from 1931 until 2001. The building sat dormant until November 2011, when it reopened as a Loblaws grocery store.  To celebrate the history of the building, Loblaws kept centre ice, created art out of some of the seats and commemorated important dates on some of the supporting columns.  Here is one of those columns:

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Jay’s note: I’d like to say that I made a special trip to Loblaws just to take this photo, but it’s the long-weekend here in Canada — and I really wanted one of their amazing chocolate dip donuts!

Today in Madonna History: October 11, 1993

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On October 11 1993, Madonna opened the North American leg of The Girlie Show at the SkyDome in Toronto, Canada.

The original Toronto date was October 12 (Thanksgiving Day in Canada), but due to overwhelming demand, a second show was added on October 11.

Madonna performed for 50,880 fans during the two Toronto shows.

The above two ads are the original Toronto Star ads from my (Jay’s) personal collection. Because the newsprint is so old I had to pump up the contrast on my scans to make them more visible. 

Here is the full itinerary for The Girlie Show:

September 25 – Wembley Stadium, London England
September 26 – Wembley Stadium, London England
September 28 – Bercy, Paris France
September 29 – Bercy, Paris France

October 01 – Bercy, Paris France
October 02 – Festhalle, Frankfurt Germany (cancelled)
October 05 – Park, Tel Aviv Israel
October 07 – Inonu Stadium, Istanbul Turkey
October 11 – Toronto Skydome, Toronto Canada
October 12 – Toronto Skydome, Toronto Canada
October 14 – Madison Square Garden, New York United States
October 15 – Madison Square Garden, New York United States
October 17 – Madison Square Garden, New York United States
October 19 – The Spectrum, Philadelphia United States
October 21 – The Palace, Michigan United States
October 23 – Olympic Stadium, Montreal Canada
October 26 – Juan Ramon Stadium, Bayamon Puerto Rico
October 30 – River Plate Stadium, Buenos Aires Argentina
October 31 – River Plate Stadium, Buenos Aires Argentina

November 03 – Estadio Do Morumbi, Sao Paulo Brazil
November 06 – Estadio Do Maracana, Rio De Janeiro Brazil
November 10 – Foro Sol (Sun Forum), Mexico City Mexico
November 12 – Foro Sol (Sun Forum), Mexico City Mexico
November 13 – Foro Sol (Sun Forum), Mexico City Mexico
November 19 – Cricket Ground, Sydney Australia
November 24 – Anz Stadium, Brisbane Australia
November 26 – Cricket Ground, Melbourne Australia
November 27 – Cricket Ground, Melbourne Australia
November 29 – Cricket Ground, Melbourne Australia

December 01 – Oval, Adelaide Australia
December 03 – Cricket Ground, Sydney Australia
December 04 – Cricket Ground, Sydney Australia
December 07 – Fukuoka Dome, Fukuoka Japan
December 08 – Fukuoka Dome, Fukuoka Japan
December 09 – Fukuoka Dome, Fukuoka Japan
December 13 – Tokyo Dome, Tokyo Japan
December 14 – Tokyo Dome, Tokyo Japan
December 16 – Tokyo Dome, Tokyo Japan
December 17 – Tokyo Dome, Tokyo Japan
December 19 – Tokyo Dome, Tokyo Japan