Madonna certainly brought electricity to Pittsburgh’s PPG Paints Arena on Monday night in her Celebration Tour.
The “Queen of Pop” performed a repertoire spanning her over-40-year career — all while sporting a knee brace.
She kicked things off with Nothing Really Matters after a slideshow of pictures of her life played .
Next, a cityscape of New York adorned the background while dancers in multi-colored plaids graced the stage as Madonna sang Everybody.
The theme carried on as she welcomed Pittsburgh to the metaphorical New York City subway and sang Into the Groove.
“It’s so good to be back,” Madonna told the crowd, which in turn roared in agreement.
The Material Girl’s performance — which oddly enough did not include her hit Material Girl — was decorated with numerous theatrical scenes and great showmanship. It marked 11 years since her last full show in Pittsburgh.
Madonna’s Monday night performance was originally set for Aug. 7, 2023, but her tour was postponed because of a bacterial infection in June.
Recently, Madonna has taken some heat for starting her shows late. A recent performance in New York began over two hours late (and sparked a lawsuit). Monday’s show was set to start at 8:30 p.m., but Madonna didn’t appear on stage until around 10:10 p.m., eliciting mixed reactions on X.
Once admitted, she launched into Holiday on a three-tiered stage that looked like a cake structure as a large disco ball spun overhead. The number featured fiery choreography with isolations and fun poses.
At the end of the song, the disco ball fell from the sky, transitioning into a slow heartbeat. Madonna then performed Live to Tell while hundreds of photos were projected in grid patterns on screens around the stage to honor those whose lives were lost during the AIDS epidemic.
Religious themes were present through incense and cross imagery heading into her iconic Like a Prayer performance.
The fashion show featured Bob the Drag Queen on the mic, who had also introduced Madonna at the beginning of the concert.
Other songs in her set included Crazy for You, Express Yourself and Mother and Father, as well as ones she performed in country-themed outfits complete with cowboy hats — including Die Another Day, Don’t Tell Me and La Isla Bonita.
At one point, she was handed a beer bottle.
“I’m not drunk, I swear,” Madonna promised the crowd, taking a swig. “Can I get a ‘Hell, yeah,’ Pittsburgh?”
Chants of “no fear” accompanied her performance of her popular tune Don’t Cry for Me Argentina, during which she wore an LGBTQ+ flag on her back.
A montage of news and media references was projected onto the background, depicting instances where she had come under fire in the past.
“I think the most controversial thing I’ve ever done is stick around,” was the line that ended the montage.
Madonna closed her concert with a series of songs that got the crowd back on its feet. During Ray of Light, which introduced a techno vibe, and then Rain, Madonna was suspended in a box-shaped structure in the air while she performed.
Arguably one of her most well-known songs Like a Virgin was played in a mash-up alongside Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean, featuring photos of Jackson and Madonna in the background.
Despite the popularity of the tune, it was played as a recording instead of performed live, with a projection of black-and-white silhouetted dancers.
During the evening, the 65-year-old singer told the PPG Paints Arena crowd that she has family from the Pittsburgh area, specifically from Aliquippa, so she has a lot of history with the city.
“I used to come here every summer of my life,” she said — up until when she was around 16 years old.
The reason? To fix up her grandparents’ farmhouse.
Her grandfather, she explained, was an Italian immigrant who came to America during World War II as an inventor and worked in the steel mills. She thanked him later in the show.
“I can tell you that I appreciate this place,” she said of Pittsburgh.
She also expressed her gratitude to her children, who were performing with her during the Celebration Tour.
Madonna told Pittsburgh the story of her life — the good, the bad, the ugly and the “erotic” — detailing how she moved to New York from Michigan.
“I got tired of being a broke-ass dancer,” she said. Instead, she pursued music.
The show did not include an encore.
Madonna closed her Celebration night with Bitch I’m Madonna, a fun, upbeat song that included colorful outfits. The singer herself wore a teal ensemble before making a quick exit, thanking the Pittsburgh audience.
The setlistNothing Really Matters
Into the Groove
Open Your Heart
Live to Tell
Like a Prayer
Living for Love
Justify My Love
Crazy for You
Die Another Day
Don’t Tell Me
Mother and Father
La Isla Bonita
Don’t Cry for Me Argentina
Ray of Light
Bitch I’m Madonna