Today in Madonna History: July 28, 1990

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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 The video was broadcast for a few weeks and then withdrawn from rotation in most countries.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 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.

Today in Madonna History: July 3, 1987


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

Madonna would receive a second Canadian Diamond Album certification for Like A Virgin in 1992.

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 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

 

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