MADONNA’S hotly anticipated Madame X tour finally arrived in the UK last night — and was well worth the wait.
The signing superstar — who at 61 has faced a string of health battles — made her debut at the London Palladium, albeit two days later than planned.
But she was on immaculate form ahead of 13 further dates over the next three weeks.
Whether it be as a singer, a comedian or an actress, she plays every role with ease — with not a sign of those crippling injuries.
Turning to the crowd, she declared deadpan: “When I moved here, everyone accused me of having a British accent and I didn’t know what they were talking about. Until I heard back old interviews. And I was horrified.”
There is much love for her dark humour and her withering put-downs of the fans who have paid hundreds of pounds to see her on this intimate tour.
And the show itself is less of a pop concert and more of an abstract West End musical.
Despite debilitating hip and knee injuries which have plagued her since the tour kicked off in New York in September, Madonna put on one of the most extraordinarily physical and emotional concerts in music history.
She flitted from talk of shootings to dirty jokes, from army deaths to disco classics, all within the spectacular two-hour, ten-minute production.
There was no interval but she managed eight different outfits, three hairstyles and a compelling performance throughout.
The superstar’s tour has proved four months of agonising turmoil but has the production value which wouldn’t be spent by most artists even playing stadiums.
Her most ambitious project to date, the experience was largely based off her Madame X album, which reached No2 here last year.
And despite powerful messages and an eclectic mix of sounds on the record, it was still her timeless classics which proved to be a magical experience to witness at such close proximity in the 2,286-capacity venue.
Vogue, one of the most iconic pop songs of the 20th century, was delivered in front of eight Madonna impersonators.
Penultimate tune Like A Prayer was as much of a religious experience as it has ever been — with Madonna cloaked in a black outfit covered in crosses.
Her Madame X songs provided the opportunity for artier performances, with a US flag hanging behind her for opening number God Control, which morphed into a church and then into a set of staircases.
At other times the stage was transformed into a Portuguese home and later a funeral procession for a fallen American soldier.
On her Rebel Heart tour in the UK in 2015, Madonna had pole dancing nuns, yet here the nuns were a string trio.
But as a perfect combo, the hard-hitting messages of violence and hatred were offset by jokes with the crowd — who had been forbidden from taking their mobile phones inside for a tech-free show.
“Aren’t you having little panic attacks?” she asked after they handed over their phones to be put in lockable pouches.
“I kind of am. And then I remember, I made the rules.”
Those rules mean she auctions off a Polaroid picture of herself taken on stage that night for £1,500, to be donated to her Raising Malawi charity.
While trying to get the price up, she joked to fans on the front row: “£1,000, is that it? I think your seats cost more than that.
“Oh my God it’s hard making a dollar around here. Are you all confused because of Brexit?”
One man was so desperate to offer his cash that he jumped up on stage, prompting Madge to say her security would be “sacked”.
At another point she sat in the crowd, chatting with a fan and swigging his beer — only to insist he hurried up because of the “iron curtain” of the 11pm curfew.
Her seven-year-old twins Estere and Stella, as well as Mercy, 14, made a brief appearance early on but were well gone by the time the show ended at 11.05pm, only five minutes late. The extreme physicality on stage has clearly taken its toll on Madonna though.
During Human Nature she performed a handstand, after opening her legs wide, grabbing her crotch and bending over.
On Crazy she rolled her hips while standing on top of a piano, batting off the wandering hands of male dancers.
And by the time it gets to Medellin, the lead single off Madame X, she was dancing on a table with no problem at all.
This tour has been a long-time coming and plenty has been said about the cost of the tickets and the state of Madonna’s music after almost four decades.
But on stage last night she was every bit the true pop superstar.
“I just want to say how happy I am to have made it this far, how could I not have done this show in London?” she said. Absolutely.
Source: The Sun