This Saturday night premiere in Paris, she was to go on stage at 9 p.m. Madonna preferred to wait for the twelve strokes of midnight. Her concert ended at 2:20 a.m. The delay record hitherto held by Chicago and Las Vegas where exhausted fans threatened to sue him was broken. At this time in the French capital, the shows are long over. In front of the Grand Rex, four white vans with tinted windows with temporary parking authorization signed by Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, await the relatives of the diva before heading west to Paris.
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For the public, it’s chaos. The metro is closed. Imagine 2,800 spectators looking at the same time for a taxi on the main boulevards. For Ibrian Sorin, 44, a border police officer from Romania with his colleague Lucian-Gabriel Molnar, 29, the diva’s delay has a very concrete consequence: “Our hotel has just closed, it won’t reopen until 6 am.”
Like them, many fans came from abroad. For this tour, which ends in Paris on March 11, Madonna only performs in eleven cities: eight in the United States and three in Europe. Lisbon, London and Paris. For the first time in 40 years of her career, she has chosen intimate rooms. Fans have never seen it so close.
This show is 17 trucks, more than 140 people on the road, three days of assembly
Angelo Gopee, boss of Live Nation France
A trip to 1800 euros
This first evening at 7:00 p.m. in the queues in front of the Grand Rex, we finally hear relatively little French. Spectators came from all over the world to see their idol. There are few women. The overwhelming majority are gay couples or gangs, most of them at least 40 years old. Alexander Nemtinov, museum “curator” and his engineer friend Anatoliy Elkin arrived from Saint Petersburg in Russia. “We also came in June to Mylène Farmer“, smiles Alexander. In the queue, Guido and Matthias, two quadras in finance, made the trip from Frankfurt: “Between the concert on Saturday and the one on Sunday, the train and the hotel, we each get 1,800 euros.” What do they think of Madonna’s delays? “It’s not” ok “at all. It’s disrespectful. We were in Lisbon when it canceled an hour before when the spectators were already in front of the theater. People were crying about being so mistreated. “
A stocky man in a bomber jacket arrives, looking concentrated. This is Angelo Gopee, boss of Live Nation France, the producer of Madonna. The same evening, he must also manage the DJ Snake concert in front of 40,000 people at Paris Defense Arena at the other end of the city. “Madonna arrived at the Grand Rex at 8:37 pm”, he tells us. Why is she so late? “Technical concerns appeared in the afternoon during rehearsals”, he advances. Before adding: “She needs to feel that the energy is there to go on stage. She only goes there once she feels the momentum is there. She’s a perfectionist. This show is 17 trucks, more than 140 people on the road, three days of assembly in Paris, two days of rehearsal. “ Here, she will do twelve packed concerts, or 33,600 spectators who paid on average 180 euros for their ticket. “With her health concerns, she could have canceled but Paris, she insists, adds our producer. It is making a remarkable effort, Paris must be proud to receive it. ”
Around 9:20 p.m., the doors of the Rex finally open. Passing through the security gates, everyone lets their phone fall into a closed pocket. Madonna does not want to be filmed or photographed. We’re coming back to 80s concerts where the phone didn’t exist and that’s fine. The atmosphere in the Rex lobby is peaceful. At the derivative stand, fans are offered catalogs (30 euros), jackets (180 euros), a palette of makeup (100 euros), a red gourd (30 euros). Our two Romanians, who are used to paying for everything with ApplePay on their phones, are green: since it is locked, it is impossible. At the bar, all drinks are served in glasses. No bottle, even without cap. “This procedure is very rare”, recognizes the barman. In the long list of things prohibited by Madonna, there are also flowers.
In the room surmounted by a red curtain with the giant letter X in black, one hardly hears a noise. Some closed their eyes and dozed off in the soft beige leather armchairs of the Rex. Many yawn. A technician sighs and rolls his eyes when asked if Madonna will arrive on stage at 10 p.m. Those with watches regularly tell others the time. Our neighbor from Rio de Janeiro already saw five shows in Lisbon in January. “I have crossed the Atlantic twice in a month”, smiles Renato Azuos, an official at the Ministry of Justice. A platinum haired boy passes by. It’s Israel, the Australian fan who attends all of Madonna’s shows. The other die-hard admirers hate him because they can’t afford to go around the world following the singer for six months.
Jean-Paul Gaultier as guest-star
The bald gentleman with lightly smoked glasses and an earpiece that goes back and forth in the aisles of the orchestra is Daniel, Madonna’s personal bodyguard. “When he gets on the stage, it’s the signal that the show is starting”, says Renato, our new Brazilian best friend.
23.40. At this hour in London, thanks to the curfew of the shows, Madonna’s concerts were long over. Four musicians go up on stage. They play almost seven songs including Like a Virgin. It’s not very interesting. They disappear and Stormy weather sounds. “Don’t know why …” sing the voice. “You are so late”, answer some teases. Whistles sound. “Pay!”shouts a fan. The others are too exhausted to protest. 11.55 p.m.ean-Paul Gaultier comes to sit. Standing ovation. As phones are prohibited, he escapes selfies for once. In the hall, few are still able to enjoy the show.
I want big tickets for orphans in Malawi, where are the generous Parisians?
Madonna to the public
At midnight, finally, Madonna appears behind an American flag pierced by bullets. We left for 2h20 of an extraordinary show cut into three acts with 60% of songs taken from his last album Madam x released in June 2019. The show is a performance worthy of being shown in the greatest museums of contemporary art. The decor is made up of removable staircases, with doors and alcoves on which are projected videos all more successful than the others. In feathered tricorn, costume of a soldier of the revolution, she first denounces the firearms with the title God Control. “We need to wake up, wake up”, she insists.
“God is a woman”
On her legs, she wears two large knee pads to protect her damaged ligaments. It’s not going to stop him from dancing, climbing on his piano, lifting his leg, doing the handstand and the splits. At 61 and being injured, it’s impressive. She goes on with Dark ballet, a tribute to Joan of Arc with a Gothic cathedral decor, scary priests and dancers in white robes with horse masks. Her three youngest daughters, Mercy, Estere and Stella join her on stage to sing Express Yourself a capella. “God is a woman”, assures us the little Estere who at this hour deserves to be in bed. In Lisbon, Madonna’s second son David, who plays at the Benfica football club, was on stage, not in Paris. Lourdes, the eldest who is strikingly beautiful will appear later for Frozen. It’s the best moment of the show. Between two choreographies, we notice that she tattooed the three letters “Mom” on her knuckles. In the end, only Rocco, the son of Madonna and Guy Ritchie is completely absent from this tour.
The diva takes her time, talks a lot to the public. Tonight she’s in a bad mood, joking a little, dissatisfied with the public’s general apathy. “You are not enthusiastic enough”, she criticizes several times without ever apologizing for her three-hour delay. Sure Vogue, we switch to the glam ’universe of Hollywood in the 50s before diving into a black thriller on I Don’t Search I Find where Madonna is interrogated by two detectives. “Professor, spy, prostitute, mother and saint … Madame X is all that”, she claims. There comes a strange moment of the show where she sells at auction a selfie which she rubs between her thighs to increase the price. “I want big bills for orphans in Malawi, where are the generous Parisians? ” One spectator offers 1,500 euros, another 1,200. She spreads the tickets on the stage. “They are orphans, don’t you have more?” she said to a German fan. “I am also an orphan”, retorts her. Madonna doesn’t insist. She comes back with American life which ends in a coffin covered with the American flag carried at arm’s length.
Donald Trump’s “little penis”
Act 2 can begin. We’re leaving Trump’s America. The Atlantic Ocean roars, you can see the shadow of a Vasco de Gama ship, old maps scrolling. Madonna has lived in Portugal for several months since 2017 because of her son David’s soccer lessons. Singers from Cape Verde cross the audience to go on stage. A sublime decoration in blue earthenware. Under the starry sky, Madonna returns in a notched brown square to sing batuka, Isla Bonita, Medellin… She embarks on a tender tango with her young dancing companion, recognizable by her thin red tie. She wears him a “Love toast” in French and Cree “Long live France!” before sitting at the orchestra near Jean-Paul Gaultier. Him, with a delicious accent: “I love ze show”. She thanks him: “Books, art, music … you did my cultural education. I love you so much.” He insists and tells her to love the show. U.S. too.
Madonna puts on a very personal show where she mixes different music, different continents. The dancers, especially the French, are impressive as are the very pointed choreographies. The singer does not let go of her political commitment. She is for democracy and the right to abortion. Against firearms, dictatorships and Donald Trump, whom she repeats that he has “A small penis” . If she could respect her audience more and not arrive three hours late, this first evening in Paris would have been … perfect.