Madonna played her first ever concert in Singapore last night to a 25,000-strong audience, but obliged the city-state’s censors by leaving two songs out of her two-hour set.
The Media Development Authority had earlier stated that “religiously sensitive content” breached local guidelines and could not be performed. Accordingly, the songs ‘Holy Water’ and ‘Devil Pray’ – part of Madonna’s Rebel Heart tour set – were not performed in Singapore.
“Madonna had her ass owned by the MDA and the Catholic Church,” local performer Pam Oei wrote in a Facebook post. She had attended the concert on a bet with a friend who had been adamant that the Queen of Pop would not give in to pressure from local censors.
“I went with him for a laugh, to settle the bet. And I was really really hoping I would lose, but I won the bet,” she told dpa.
Not all concert-goers were put off by the omission of the two songs, saying that defiance of the regulations might have meant that Singaporean fans would miss out on the concert completely.
“I guess on a personal level, the songs that she couldn’t perform were not my favourites and the ones she did were awesome,” said educator Faeza Sirajudin.
Some fans were annoyed by Madonna’s use of crass language onstage.
“It was way too vulgar. I get it, she was the bad girl of the 80s, but when you’re at that age, seriously tone it down,” Kelly Chong told local broadsheet The Straits Times.
The concert had sparked controversy, with Christian leaders making representations to the authorities regarding concerns over her use of religious symbols.