Sticky & Sweet Tour……it was time to enjoy another Madonna tour. After seeing the Drowned World Tour 4 times in 2001, Re-Invention Tour 12 times in 2004 and the Confessions Tour 12 times in 2006, we were thinking of doing at least 12 shows again. How in the hell could I have known Madonna would be playing a whole different schedule and stadiums only this time around? No smaller arena’s such as Wembley arena and Bercy, and also only 1 show per city (except for Paris). OK we had to change our plans at once, 12 shows just could not be done due to all the different dates and the money we could spent.

I was waiting for the announcement of a second show in Amsterdam when the first one went on sale, but sadly it never came. Previous shows of Madonna in Holland sold like hot cakes, but this time it just didn’t sell as well. What was going on? Hard Candy sold incredibly well in Holland as well as 4 Minutes and Give it 2 Me both being number 1 hit singles in Holland, so what could be the reason? Possibly the fact that it was the third time in only a few years that she visited Holland. The non-fans didn’t feel such an urge to see Madonna again, too bad. Still the best tickets sold out immediately, only the seats far high up and way in the back were still left unsold.

Eventually I booked 8 shows in 7 different cities: Cardiff, Berlin, Amsterdam, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, London and Paris. Never before did I have to book so many different trips and hotels, not forgetting about the amount of days I had to take off of work, and those oh so expensive tickets. Thankfully now I had some savings so could all afford it a bit better than in 2006. I bought a Hot Ticket for the shows in Cardiff, Berlin, Dusseldorf and Frankfurt and was given a Ticket de Luxe for the show in Amsterdam. A Hot Ticket was guaranteed access to the golden circle during the show and exclusive merchandise. For the shows in London I bought a regular golden circle ticket, if you are ‘only’ doing 8 shows, let’s do ‘em well I must’ve been thinking

A lot of preparation went ahead of the start of the tour; we had shirts and a banner printed, were emailing every day with MOJO to bring our readers the latest and exclusive news on the show in Amsterdam. Then of course there was the media interested in the tour we were taking on. There was a new show called FANS of TV channel SBS6 but we declined their offer as we had sincere doubts at how they wanted to portray us. Still it was very exciting I would be attending the world premiere of the tour in Cardiff, to not know anything of the show and then seeing it first with your own eyes.

Cardiff, August 22 2008

I was so terribly nervous; if I have fear it is the fear of flying. For weeks I kept telling myself not to worry but that just didn’t work. I knew I HAD to fly to Cardiff, I absolutely hated it but I knew if I wanted to attend the world premiere I needed to get on that damn thing. Early in the morning we (me, Simon, Hans) arrived at Schiphol (airport). I swallowed a pill I got from my doctor that prevented me from getting even more nervous. When we boarded the plane by BMI Baby I still was in doubt whether I wanted to do this or not. We sat down on our seats, there was barely room for our legs and I got claustrophobic immediately. Right before taking off we were directed to seats with more space for our legs, this was a lot more comfortable. When the door to the airplane was closed, panic got a hold of me and I was about to leave the plane, thankfully I didn’t.

As I feared the plane took off immediately and caused me to crawl into Simon. I absolutely hate the taking off part, there’s nothing as scary. When we were finally steady in the air I was doing a bit better, but I never got comfortable in my seat. The flight was really good though and after one hour of flying we were landing, now here’s the part I like…’s finally over! At the airport I was so thankful I was on ground again. We didn’t need to wait for our luggage as we only had brought small bags. Outside we took a taxi to our Bed & Breakfast Austins that was right next to the Millennium stadium, excellent choice! After dumping our luggage we went to explore the stadium where people had set up tents already. I had told myself that this tour I would not be queuing at all, the last time I spent 27 hours in a queue (HC promo show Paris) and would not ever be doing this again! This time around I wanted to enjoy the cities I visited instead of wasting all the hours on the streets. In the afternoon we ate some great food at an Italian restaurant and bought the first newspapers that mentioned Madonna.

In the evening we suddenly heard Madonna rehearsing from our hotel room, instantly we ran to the stadium. Once we got there we met up with Paolo and Mario and listened to the entire show. Even though it was only audio it was an incredible experience not knowing what the visuals were. We heard You Must Love Me for the first time that evening and we were all dead silent at once. I had hoped to hear her sing this live during a tour for such a long time, I am such a big fan of the song, I absolutely loved it. Until suddenly an Italian guy started screaming along, we told him to shut up and he did. Even though the entire show sounded great, from the very first moment on I wasn’t keen on another version of Ray of Light and the terrible rock version of Hung Up. After the rehearsal we saw her car leaving the stadium and no we did not wave goodbye.

sskim1Cardiff, August 23 2008

Today we had to pick up our Hot Tickets at a little office near the Millennium Stadium. In the morning fans were already lined up to get their ticket, but since the office only opened at noon we decided to spend our time by visiting the city centre. Once we did join the queue we were interviewed by a local newspaper reporter. It took quite a while before we could get our tickets and wristbands. We then did not join the Hot Ticket queue; we didn’t buy a guaranteed golden circle spot for nothing. The merchandise stand was already open for business at the stadium and quickly I saw everything that was for sale. I wasn’t really impressed but thought the black vest was a definite must-have. Even though I did encourage myself to buy this somewhere else in Europe, where things tend to be cheaper than in the UK. I did got to see the whole tour book which I absolutely loved, Tom Munro did a wonderful job and Madonna looked stunning, absolutely my fave tour book thus far. I did not buy it as I knew Live Nation would be sending one to my house.

After again a nice Italian vegetarian meal we did not join the queue until 4pm, as we know we were allowed early access at 4.30pm. Very relaxed I entered the stadium, inside we had to wait another hour for the true access to the field, I did not really enjoy this hour. Madonna was still doing her soundcheck and I caught a glimpse of the stage, the two Huge M’s and Madonna herself by peeking through a crack in the wall. This until a steward noticed me and blocked my view….gosh how childish can we get. We heard Madonna rehearsing Ray of Light and You Must Love Me, everyone waiting cheered after the songs. Finally we were let in and everyone ran to get a top spot. Stewards all directed me to the left side of the stage. When I saw that all the good spots at the left side were taken I wanted to walk back to the right side but I was forbidden to do so. Stewards told me that the right side was ‘reserved’ for non Hot Ticket holders. This angered me as I paid so much more and now I was only allowed a spot on third or fourth row, while they could easily gain a front row spot on the left side? I got really upset and when I pointed a steward to a few people standing on the right side, he could do nothing else but let me through.

I found a great spot right at the front on the right side of the stage. As we had no idea what to expect of this show we did not know which spots would be the best. When the people with regular tickets were let in, the chaos was complete. They literally threw themselves on people in the front row, things were very hectic and people were panicking. I immediately got crushed as well as the girl behind me was in an absolute state that she did not make it to front row. This was very unpleasant. Right before the show AntBoogie walked by, came up to me to give me a hug and a kiss (we e-mailed each other before the tour kicked off). Also Guy Oseary came up to talk to us and take pics of our tattoos

With still a lot of hours of waiting until the show started, I was sincerely in doubt whether I wanted to keep my front row spot or not. The people leaning on my back were starting to irritate me very much and also the temperature rose quickly. Reminding sskim2myself I wanted to enjoy this tour and the shows rather than spending my hours being crushed, I decided to give up my front row spot and it took me quite a while before I freed myself from the crowd that was crushed together like glue. When I did finally found some space and air to breathe I was massively relieved. I found Simon and together we walked around the stadium and walked back into the golden circle on the left side of the stage where things were a lot calmer. Here we met up with Sharon, James, Tony, Steve & Dan, so we ended up having a great time right at the front of the catwalk.

Finally a little after 9pm the show started. I wasn’t impressed with the video that opened the show, if I compare this video to the breathtaking The Beast Within from RIT or the Future Lovers video from CT, this was just computer amateur images. The show opened with ‘Candy Shop’ the same as the HC promo tour so nothing new to me. She did wear a different costume and a different hairstyle, she looked fabulous. It was great to see her again but I wasn’t impressed so far. This changed with the second song ‘Beat Goes On’. I absolutely love the album version but live I was even more impressed. Pharrell and Kanye were on the screens and I loved their participation. It was such a surprise when Madonna in a white car drove onto the catwalk, breathtaking! Madonna was amazing on stage. The third song was Human Nature which was played totally on the front of the catwalk. I thought the version was OK, nothing special, liked the Britney video on the screens. The fourth song Vogue was spectacular. Madonna is she really 50 years old? What a body, amazing movements. Definitely one of the all time best performances of Vogue

The second section began with a new video to Die Another Day with a boxing theme, absolutely stunning video (of the same photo shoot as tour book). Madonna could then be seen skipping and performed a nice version of Into The Groove, very 80’s and much fun. Even though this performance reminded me a lot of Beautiful Stranger at the Drowned World Tour. The performance was tiring to look at as Madonna just didn’t stop moving and skipping the rope. She then literally dropped onto the stage only to have two dancers remove and switch her shoes (very reminiscent to Lucky Star beginning at Confessions), then ‘Heartbeat’ was performed. The album version is a bit bland to me but live it really gave it that something extra. The song carried a nice choreography, nothing spectacular but the ‘see my booty get down’ bit was typical Madonna. After Heartbeat Madonna grabbed her guitar again (sigh…second time after Human Nature) and performed a stunning rock version of Borderline. Surprisingly this worked and I enjoyed it very much. It was her first time performing this live ever since 1985. After Borderline the second highlight of the show (next to Beat Goes On) was performed ‘She’s Not Me’. I absolutely love the album version and live it was even better, a true crowd pleaser. Behind Madonna various images of M were portrayed, nothing original. Madonna wore heart shaped sunglasses, she looked great. The song brought a lot of humor and fun to the show. Four Madonna’s with old costumes came up on the catwalk and Madonna had a ‘fight’ with them. Something I expected her to do for years. After this there was ‘Music’ another track that has been over performed, it’s been done. It was the Fedde Le Grand version, very colorful.

Third section started with a new projection on the screens in a piece titled ‘Rain’ combined with a Eurythmics track. The video that was projected (some kind of alien figure walking through virtual landscape) was extremely boring to me, but liked the two Japanese dancers. Then ‘Devil Wouldn’t Recognize You’ was performed on the front of the catwalk under the screens. This was absolutely breathtaking. Madonna was wearing a long black cape and became a very mysterious and dark figure, now this was a MADONNA performance! It reminded me a bit of the Sooner or Later performance at BAT as this was also on a piano, but this was much more theatrical.

sskim3At the end of the song she loses the cape and reveals a very colorful costume. Spanish Lesson was performed next, I am one of the few that actually enjoys this song, but live it was rather bland. Miles Away was up next (with guitar AGAIN), same performance as HC promo tour, a bit boring. Then we were treated to the stunning Live Earth version of La Isla Bonita with Lela Pale Tute, stunning performance! It was THE song to really get the crowd get up and dance and sing. After this Madonna sat down on the front of the catwalk with dancer Paul to gain her breath, she enjoyed a performance by a band singing Doli Doli. Then it was time for the true highlight of the evening, You Must Love Me was performed. Madonna again reached for het guitar (totally unnecessary for this song) and sang a beautiful version of this song. This was a performance I had been hoping for for years. Absolutely stunning and I admit to be crying a little.

Section four started with a video titled Get Stupid, a preaching video I like to call it. Now I am being very honest when I say when I say that I have totally had it with her preaching videos. It was great during RIT in 2004 with Imagine, great with Sorry Remix at CT in 2006 but now it is just getting beyond annoying. I visit a show to enjoy myself and not to be confronted with images that are so horrifying they never leave me again. I understand she wants to give the audience a message and that’s fine, but sometimes it is just enough especially coming from a woman that can be a terrible hypocrite when it comes to this. I mean who still likes to wear fur and is still far from living environmental friendly? I tried to watch the video but when a saw a bleeding elephant dying I turned away. I am terribly sensitive when it comes to animal cruelty and can’t and don’t want to watch these images. The elephant practically ruined my entire evening. Just when you’re having so much fun, this comes along. I was quite pissed actually. 4 Minutes was next, same choreography as HC Promo tour. Madonna came on stage looking absolutely ridiculous, a wig with a fringe, and she looked like a figure from Transformers (or tried to) why Madonna why? What was she trying to say? Hi, I am a Japanese warrior and I was sent to the earth the rescue the world in 4 minutes?

sskim4Failed attempt Madonna sorry. Next we were treated to the second best song of the night. Actually I was disappointed that she replaced Impressive Instant in the set list with Like a Prayer. But she performed such a stunning version that I was completely blown away. It was a mash up with a well known house track and turned the entire stadium into a rave. Everyone was dancing, clapping and singing along, the best version of Like a Prayer ever! Unfortunately after this absolutely stunning performance the rest of the final set was a huge letdown. As expected Ray of Light was exactly the same as during CT two years ago, even same backdrop video. This was entirely done on the catwalk with that damn guitar again. I did something I have never done at a Madonna show before…..I got bored and started to look at the pics I had taken of previous songs. Next was the terrible rock version of Hung Up again with guitar……..why oh why oh why oh why….lose the damn guitar! I was convinced the show would pick up again with the final track Give it 2 Me, but sadly it didn’t. She performed a remix version that was so underwhelming it just dazed everyone. The album track is such a party and this was such a letdown, the music was way too loud and you couldn’t hear M one bit. Directly after this song ‘GAME OVER’ on the screens…WTF??!!

I was a bit in a state after the show and did not know what to think of it. I absolutely loved some of the songs but also absolutely hated some, especially the final three which were just dire. Not to mention the terrible wig and the repeated performances we’ve seen in previous tours. I also missed a highlight in the show and controversy such as we’ve seen during CT with Live to Tell and the cross. There was not really a story, controversy, shock- or wow factor in this show, it was simply just fun..mmm…did I really want to see this show 7 more times?

Cardiff, August 24 2008

Time to buy newspapers commenting on the show, and we succeeded. The more I thought about it, the more I began to doubt whether I liked the show at all. RIT and DWT were without a doubt better in my opinion. But then also this was the world premiere, she was nervous; maybe the upcoming shows would be better. My next show would be in Berlin, so I was already curious as to what that would bring. That afternoon I took a pill again and the flight to Amsterdam went very well.

sskim5Berlin, August 27 2008

To save on money we decided to drive to Berlin by car and explore a whole new adventure (me and Hans). With his car we started our journey at 5.30am and I was behind the wheel. I hadn’t driven this car before so it was all new. In Germany we speeded up the car and drove with 160km per hour which was fantastic. Friendly German people helped us on our way and told us to only follow signs leading us to Hannover and from there we would find Berlin, they were right. It was a very easy drive and Berlin was quickly found (but yes it is a long drive). On our way we only saw trucks, trees and more trucks

When we arrived at our hotel we parked the car and checked into our hotel. The trip had been great and we were actually surprised by this. In Berlin we decided to check out the stadium already and took a bus to the right stop. The stadium at first look like a Greek stadium, very beautiful. The weather was great, warm and lots of sun. Here we saw the first tour posters. We also did a little shopping in the city centre and then ate some good Italian food in the great sunny weather. We loved all of Berlin so far.

sskim6Berlin, August 28 2008

sskim7In the afternoon we picked up our Hot Tickets at the box office, the queue wasn’t very big yet and the weather was great (lots of sun). At the box office we were first presented with the tour gift which was a leather wallet with the S&S logo on it, I am not too fond of leather, but oh well. We weren’t planning on joining the Hot Ticket queue yet, so went back to the city centre and had some lovely Italian food again. Italian food is the best you can eat during a tour like this, it’s good, it’s healthy, it’s cheap and it stuffs your stomach.

At 5pm we finally joined the queue, a photographer took some pics of our tattoos and tour outfit we were told that Hot Ticket holders were allowed early access, which was great news. The policy had changed since the show in Nice where Live Nation received a lot of complaints from people with a Hot Ticket as they were let in later than general golden circle ticket holders. When we entered we ran like never before, first up some stairs then down some stairs, then running to the front of the gate. We found an amazing spot on the right side of the stage where she spends most of her time.

Not long after we found our spot, regular ticket holders were let inside. Thankfully the people in Berlin remained calm and everyone sat down on the floor, leading to enough space to move around. I could even visit the toilet and buy some potato chips. The relaxed atmosphere was gone when Robyn started her show. I am not a fan of Robyn and since I was only seeing her back, I wasn’t interested. All people were now standing but I still had enough space to move around, I wasn’t pressed up against the gate. Right before the show we met Guy Oseary again and had a chat.

The waiting for Madonna continued to last, there were some technical problems and time after time we were welcomed with a false alarm. Music went off, everyone happy; music went back on, everyone not happy. Madonna finally started her show sskim8around 9.15pm, and experiencing the show from the very first row on the right side of the stage was a whole different experience than in Cardiff. Madonna seemed to be enjoying herself a lot more, her singing was good, her dancing was good and she was really into it. We brought our banner. Madonna was very close lots of time which resulted in some great pics.

At the second section she wore a pink costume instead of the red/black she wore in Cardiff. With She’s Not Me we had a lot of eye contact with Madonna and she posed for the camera quite a bit. I still had enough space to dance and move around, I went absolutely crazy during this show. Madonna dedicated You Must Love Me to Seymour Stein who was in the audience that night; he was the one who gave M her first record deal. The audience in Berlin was amazing and participated in everything. During Spanish Lesson our banner caught M’s eye and she was trying to read what it said, it caught her a bit off guard as she couldn’t seem to make out the words, too bad. The show was simply amazing and I felt completely different about it now. I had the best spot I could have, superb show.

After the show we met up with Tony, Sharon and Andre (from Germany) and then decided to walk back to our hotel. This was doable but we did witness a Drunk German guy kicking of the rear view mirror of a taxi cab, alcohol….who needs it. On our way we again ran into Sharon, Tony and co, their hotel was near ours. We then updated the site, drank some lovely Red Bull and went to bed.

Berlin, August 29 2008

After an early and lovely breakfast and checking out newspapers (yep we did arrive back in Holland with lots of new paper), we drove the car back from Berlin to Amsterdam. We again followed signs to Hannover and then quickly found signs directing us back to Holland. After racing the car on the autobahn up to 180km per hour which I absolutely loved, it was terrible cutting back on speed back in Holland. And how vile and how typical of the Dutch police to wait a few meters over the border to write tickets for those speeding.

Back home I really needed some sleep and some rest after the 6 hour drive. When I looked in the mirror I was shocked at the sight of myself I looked as if I hadn’t slept in weeks. I lay down on my couch with my dogs and drifted asleep with a great memory of Berlin. My compliments to all the people in Berlin, I wish people were like this everywhere!

Amsterdam, September 1 2008

Finally Madonna came back to our country. Despite many stories in the media that the concert wasn’t sold out, we had faith that eventually things would work out. We had decided this was the only show we would queue for, also because our friends wanted to queue as well. In the evening we had a nice Mexican dinner with Tony in Amsterdam and back home went to sleep immediately due to the long day ahead of us.

Amsterdam, September 2 2008

sskim9Of course we were stuck in traffic on our way to Amsterdam; our friends were there in the queue already, so they had to wait for us. Simon arrived a little later by train as he forgot a few things. Arriving at the queue Eveline (friend of Hans) was there already as well as a customer of his (Marjan). Tony was there as well dressed in nothing but shorts and a shirt even though it was cold and it was raining, bit of a wrong costume for today. We sat down with them and after a while our friends Amon and Caroline arrived as well. We spent our time by walking in circles around the ArenA. When the rain became heavier we felt like we were camping, protecting ourselves from the rain with everything we could, and the fun was gone. We were all cold and wet. The Heineken Music Hall was already heavily promoting the afterparty organized by FAME after the show. Tony was absolutely freezing and was trying to keep warm with bubble wrap.

By noon we were treated with a surprise and Hans and I were rewarded with two free Ticket de Luxe for tonight’s show, which meant we could leave the queue. I gave my poncho to Tony so he could shield himself a bit better from the rain. Later in the afternoon we picked up our ticket de luxe and to our surprise we were given an exclusive S&S Amsterdam bag instead of the leather wallet, I actually preferred the bag to the wallet. All day long people spoke to us about the site and we were very thankful of all the compliments that we received. Later on M started to rehearse and we were told that the well known rush had passed in the queue where our friends were. It was a very difficult time for them in the cold, in the rain, being crushed for hours. If I hadn’t been given the Ticket de Luxe I would’ve been there too.

Later we heard that in Amsterdam there was early access for all people with a Ticket de Luxe as well, M’s management had given the OK. When we got in we had to wait a little longer before gaining access to the stadium. Here we saw Dutch trainer and soccer player Marco van Basten, who was given applause by people waiting. When we were finally let in, we saw that we were let in through a backstage area (could see all behind the stage) and tour manager Chris Lamb was in the golden circle looking at all the people running to get a good spot. Hans and I found the same great spot as in Berlin and reserved a little room for our wet friends outside. When they were let in Tony managed to find us immediately. Unfortunately then all was spoiled sskim10within seconds as two infamous fans from France literally jumped on us to get our spots. When we told them to back off as other people were standing here, they became aggressive, started shouting and pushing. When I gave one of the girls a big shove to get her off my back, she became more aggressive and literally hung onto my back. I called security, who was already keeping an eye on the girls. Our friends couldn’t stand next to us thanks to the girls. These girls were also causing problems during the HC promo tour in Paris when they jumped the queue then called a guy a faggot when he said something about it. He poured his coke can over her when she attacked him and police had to take them apart. These girls are NOT loved among most Madonna fans and of course they choose to stand behind us.

The girls are obsessive, aggressive and mean. When Hans said something about it they started calling him a fucking faggot, I again addressed the security telling them they needed to do something or things would get out of hand. While I was being crushed by the girls, people next to me told me to hold on as they all had seen what happened and they all wanted the girls to leave. I knew if I stayed I would lose my self control, would fight and probably would be the one to be taken out of the stadium. To prevent this I gave up my front row spot and being with my friends and walked out of there. Simon followed me and suddenly we saw that security indeed removed the two girls from the front row. When we saw this we started to cheer (and so did everyone else who was next to them), this resulted in the fact that we were threatened by both girls ‘just wait till you are in Paris’ well girls I’d say ‘bring it on!’ People were telling me to come back to my front row spot but I decided to hang out with Simon. We spent our time by handing out flyers for the afterparty, getting drinks and food and finally buying my black S&S tour vest in size small. When Robyn started her show Simon and me found an amazing spot on the right side of the stage, just a few people away from our friends.

sskim11Here Madonna started late as well, a little before 9.30pm she finally came on stage. From the start it was obvious that this was destined to be the best show so far. Madonna had amazing energy; looked stunning, voice was great and she was in the best mood I have seen her in a long time! Madonna spoke to the audience A LOT, joked around and did everything she could to perform her best show so far. The Dutch audience truly appreciated Madonna and didn’t sit still from La Isla Bonita on, the ArenA was one giant party. We indeed couldn’t spot any empty seats. At the request section right before Hung Up she asked us what we wanted to hear her sing. She said we could also just clap instead and then asked us to sing her Happy Birthday. She was surprised when her question was answered with the Dutch audience singing it in Dutch to her. She didn’t understand it but loved it anyway. She then said that Holland was the best audience so far and should take them along with her on tour and didn’t need any back up singers anymore. When M wanted the audience to sing along, they did. She didn’t even need to tell everyone WHAT to sing, we were so loud.

During Like a Prayer and especially during Give it 2 Me the ArenA just went crazy, it looked like the entire stadium was jumping. Everyone was jumping, singing and dancing, an amazing sight. Give it 2sshans6
 Me has been a huge hit in Holland (6 weeks at the top spot) and you could tell. After the show people needed a good few minutes to gain their breath, Madonna had been spectacular, without a doubt the best show so far. I think M felt the same way, I personally haven’t seen her this cheerful and so much fun in a long time.

After the show we quickly made our way to the exit to get to the parking lot to change into different gear for the afterparty in the HMH. At the car, I changed my pants and shoes and then we made our way to the HMH. When we got in first we were forbidden to bring our camera but when I told security FAME knew us, we helped organizing it, they checked on us. FAME eventually gave us permission as the only ones to film inside. The dance floor was already very crowded when Ben Liebrand was playing his DJ set. With every song he played his set became more and more amazing. He treated us to one of the best Vogue mixes I have ever heard, a mash up with a very famous house song. Everyone there went nuts to his DJ set, it was absolutely amazing. We sadly had to leave after his set due to work commitments early the next day. It was a stunning way to end a stunning day.

Dusseldorf, September 4 2008

On the day of the show we left early by car to Germany. As Dusseldorf isn’t that far from Holland, and much nearer than Berlin, we thought this was going to be a piece of cake…..well we thought wrong. After taking a different and longer route again, arriving in Dusseldorf finally, we followed a route description to get to the Krefelderstrasse.

We finally found this after driving back and forth, however we needed to find number 1 and the street only went as far as number 9. We asked a few people about this but no one knew. Until we were directed to a store that sold beds, this turned out to be number 1. Something wasn’t right here. The lady took a look at our hotel reservation and saw what the problem was. It seemed we did not have a hotel booked in Dusseldorf but in Dusseldorf Neuss, which was a little town a little further. So we got back in the car and followed all signs leading us to Neuss. Indeed we found the little village a bit further and reminded us most of a village forgotten.

In Neuss of course we couldn’t find the Krefelderstrasse at all so we stopped where a map was. Here I saw that it should be near the central station. After taking a couple of wrong routes we suddenly ran right into Hotel Grand Mirage where we were supposed to stay. We parked the car and then finally checked in. Of course the street next to our hotel room was worked on and caused a lot of noise. After asking the girl at the reception on how to get to the LTU arena, we discovered it was over an hour of travelling by train! Our travel agency offered to pay for a taxi, but we decided on taking our own car there anyway.

Thankfully the weather was fine and a hot sun followed us all day. We first stopped in the city centre to grab a bite to eat, as expected it took us again quite a while to find the city centre. In here we ordered some pasta and Hans ordered something without knowing what it was, instead of asking the German waiter to translate the menu he just ordered it. He was rewarded with spaghetti with shrimps, and he doesn’t like shrimp at all. Better to ask the waiter next time! As I am a vegetarian it is a lot easier for me to choose a dish. I ate penne with grilled vegetables and it was fabulous. While leaving the parking lot Hans again took the wrong exit and almost hit an incoming car, things went great today.

sskim12At the LTU arena we parked the car and picked up our Hot Tickets, and there was the leather wallet again. The queue wasn’t as big as two years ago but set up in the same way as then. Even though things went a bit crazy when the gates opened, somehow security did not learn from it. We had to sit in a different queue for Hot Ticket holders. When we were first let in, we had to wait a little longer outside and then were let into the arena first. As we didn’t want to spend our hours in the arena crushed, we decided to walk around the entire time until the show began.

They completed stuffed the golden circle, the gates only closed half an hour after people were first let in, resulting in the most crowded golden circle I have ever been in. It was terribly busy and there wasn’t much space to walk and move around. Right before the show started we were on the left side of the stage because it was basically the only spot we could find. Guy Oseary spoke to us right before the show again. Of course it’s just my luck that I have a father and a mother in front of me that brought their four year old daughter. The father sat his girl on the gates obstructing my view of the stage and those of sskim13others. Security saw this and told the guy to take his girl down, also because it could be dangerous. The guy thought I had complained (which I hadn’t) and told me I could still see the show if only I leaned over the gate….ehm…I am not the tallest one either sir. I told him that maybe it was a good idea to purchase seats next time so his daughter could see the show much better. He then said that he did not want to sit at a concert but stand, well mister are you here for you or your daughter? Eventually he was given the OK and the girl got to sit on the gate, so basically my show was ruined even before it started.

I did my best to see everything as good as possible, but after that four year old thing had kicked me over 30 times, I just had it with it all. Madonna tried, but it was clear she wasn’t as much fun and into it as in Amsterdam. At the request section someone shouted for her to sing True Blue, to which she responded ‘True Blue? Eeeww….let’s sing something that has some balls’ and sang for the first time an a-cappella version of Like a Virgin with the audience. The show was OK, but my least favorite so far. This was the second time I did not enjoy my time in Dusseldorf so I’ll probably skip it next time.

After the show we waited for 30 minutes in our car for the traffic to pass a little, however it didn’t. We took our chances but indeed ended up stuck in the traffic as well. It took another 30 minutes for us to reach the highway and signs leading us to Neuss. Back in the hotel we took a look at our pics then went to sleep. The work at the street next to our hotel room? It continued all night long!

Dusseldorf, September 5 2008

After a good night’s sleep and breakfast we wanted to get the hell out of Neuss. On our way back Hans was a little too enthusiastic and was on the highway a bit too soon, but thankfully soon we saw a sign leading us back to Holland, from then on it went fine.

Frankfurt, September 8 2008

sskim14Actually I wasn’t looking forward to travelling again and seeing the show again. I had seen the show already and just wasn’t feeling it anymore. Somehow this tour lacks something that previous tours did have; however I still don’t exactly know what it is. The show is good yes, but bores quickly, that is how me and a lot of my friends feel anyway. Still we got on the ICE train early on our way to Frankfurt.

The trip went absolutely fine. Arriving in Frankfurt we found out our hotel (Excelsior) was located directly next to the central station. Absolutely great hotel with free use of internet and free use of mini bar, excellent! We then went to explore all of Frankfurt as again the weather was very sunny. Right across the central station we found a busy street, which we thought would be the city centre. However we saw nothing but sex shops and sex cinemas and everyone walking there was eating ice creams.

When we asked around on how to find the city centre, we quickly found it. We sat down at Starbucks to relax, drink tea and eat the best carrot cake I have ever tasted. We were absolutely knackered of all the trips and shows so far. Like two zombies we were talking about past tours and experiences and a whole lot of bla bla. We went back to our hotel to sleep a bit.

So we did. After about 30 minutes of sleep we had dinner at a restaurant reminding me a lot of The Hard Rock café. My vegetarian food was lovely, spinach rolls with wedges. After this went to the hotel, watched some TV and went to sleep

Frankfurt, September 9 2008

The weather was amazing, it was truly hot, no cloud to be seen. Went back to Starbucks in the city centre (yes I had to taste that carrot cake again), later sat down drinking something while watching people walking by. We had dinner in the ‘sex’ street. We saw many people with Madonna shirts and a lot of business men. The food was cheap (Germany has some great cheap food) and ate a very tasty oven dish of spaghetti with vegetables.

We took a taxi to the commerzbank arena as we couldn’t figure out how the tram system worked. Arriving we saw only a small amount of people waiting at the gates and these were mostly Hot Ticket holders, where was the regular queue? I never found out. Picking up our Hot Tickets and another leather wallet, we waited until we could enter. At 5pm we were let in, however it was another 30 minute waiting until we could walk to the arena, Madonna was still soundchecking.

Finally at the arena we had to wait again and everyone grew a bit tired of it. I did not. I sat down on a chair and waited until it was time, I also made use of the toilet. I was so terribly done with the hectic atmosphere, people pushing, people screaming, people panicking. When the gates opened everyone crushed one another, I was one of the last to enter the golden circle. We were let in again through a backstage entrance, so saw everything behind the stage again. We took the same spot as in Berlin but already knew I wasn’t going to stay here. It was terribly humid in the arena due to the sun shining all day. Hans and me left and let a 10 year old kid stand in our spot instead, he was tall enough to stand at the gates and NOT sit on them. We walked away and sskim15explored the stadium.

We met up with dancers AntBoogie and Norman that I took pictures with. Norman remembered us from CT two years ago. We also saw Jason (known him since RIT) and posed for a pic. Had a nice chat with Guy Oseary again. Everything here was better arranged than in Dusseldorf, the golden circle was half full as in other countries and not as stuffed as in Dusseldorf. The arena was also smaller than previous stadiums I visited. Because the airport was located right next to the arena we saw planes flying by.

Robyn again started her set that bored me to death by now (not her fault, just not my thing) and meanwhile we found a good spot at the right side of the stage. Right before Madonna started her show; more people were let into the golden circle and quickly became more crowded. A girl standing right next to me thought it necessary to empty her stomach over the gates, security was very pleased (NOT). We were also very fond of the smell that it brought us and suddenly I didn’t feel like eating my cheese sandwich anymore. Madonna started LATE; audience became impatient and started booing. At 9.30pm Madame thought it was time finally to show us her Candy Shop, she looked radiant once again. Her chats with the audience were limited to ‘sprechen sie Deutsch?’ duh Madonna you’re in Frankfurt what do YOU think? She probably had no idea what she was saying, probably the same as with the ‘iek ben droevik’ in Sorry. At the request section she sang Express Yourself as ‘she didn’t feel like Virgins tonight’

She forgot some lyrics here and there and also some technical issues with the sound arose. But she again tried her best and the show was definitely better than in Dusseldorf. The audience was a different story though. Behind us there were three Germans (a guy and two girls) who were so drunk that they kept on falling on the floor, they also thought it funny to dry hump one another. Right next to them was a guy in his late 40’s that fainted; it took about 4 security men to get him out of the audience. Right in front of me there was this man who probably hadn’t brushed his teeth in weeks; every time he opened his mouth a stench of rotting fish filled my nostrils. Thankfully he didn’t know the new songs but every time a well known song was performed I literally held my breath. His way of applauding was to shout HEY! After every song and lifting up his right arm. Crazy people.

Enough complaining. We walked back during Ray of Light and left right before Hung Up as we did not want to get stuck in traffic this time. We didn’t miss that much missing Hung Up and Give it 2 Me. Outside we got in a taxi and were back in the hotel soon. Got our stuff together and went to bed awaiting our trip tomorrow to London!

London, September 10 2008

After the newspaper check we got on the ICE to Brussels. Trip went smoothly until we arrived in Aachen. The train stopped here for a long time and then lowered his speed. There was a technical problem and there was also a lot of work on the tracks on our way to Brussels, causing many stops. Thanks to all of this we arrived half an hour later in Brussels and had to run to catch our Eurostar train to London. So it didn’t start of too well.

sskim16At Brussels things went OK and the Eurostar was fine too, with two hours we were at St. Pancras in London. Here we took a taxi to our hotel in Bayswater. We could only check in at 3pm so decided to walk to Queensway and buy a lovely vegetarian sandwich at Subways (oh so good). Then we walked to Notting Hall Gate to check out some second hand record shops, but didn’t find anything. When we finally got to go up to our hotel room we were booked on the fifth Floor and the elevator did not work, carrying luggage was a bit hard. The room was very small, very warm and the TV didn’t work. We walked to Marble Arch to go shopping in Oxford Street. We found the marbled version of the Hard Candy LP; we already owned the swirled one. We also ran into Tony. Stopped at Starbucks to rest our feet. We had dinner at Leicester Square at Chiquito’s, excellent Mexican food. We then looked at the giant RocknRolla billboards and took the long trip back to our hotel. We knew Guy was celebrating his birthday in The Punchbowl and that M would be there. However we were tired and didn’t want to get in the way at a private party so decided not to go.

I had enough of the room on the fifth floor with no elevator, no TV and airco. I spoke to the receptionist and told them we wanted a new room, so we got one. Our new room was on the second floor and was a 100% improvement, a bath, a working TV and a lot bigger. Then the news got to us that there had been a fire in the Eurotunnel and that trains were cancelled, I wasn’t worrying too much at this point.

We took the bus to Wembley Park in the afternoon, not thinking of the fact that it was rush hour as well as that more people were taking the car to Wembley, we got stuck in traffic big time. The bus was absolutely stuffed with too many people and it was way too hot. We decided to walk the rest of the trip, which was a big mistake. We found out we were walking in a ghetto and didn’t feel safe on the streets at all, people were looking funny at us, I don’t think I have ever walked this fast in my entire life. After walking in fast pace for an hour we finally reached Wembley. I was absolutely knackered and didn’t feel like seeing the show at all; I really just wanted to go home.

Hans still had to pick up his Hot Ticket and after this joined the queue to get in. At 7pm we finally got inside. Golden circle was filled up already, here we met up with Steve and Sharon, then walked around a bit. Saw M’s dancers and Guy Oseary again. sskim17Guy sent a camera man to us to film us and our tattoos then had to fill out a form to give up all of our rights ;o) He was filming for the upcoming tour DVD. Paul Oakenfold was already playing his set; even though I much prefer this to Robyn it was basically the same set he played two years ago. At the left side of the stage it was a lot emptier than on the right side, so here we found a great spot right in front of the catwalk. Madonna should’ve started the show at 8.30pm but still did not come on until 9.10pm.

Experiencing the show from the front of the catwalk was great, but I still preferred my front row spot on the right side of the stage. Madonna was in good shape, she sang a bit of Beat Goes On wrong as well as almost the entire Borderline song. At the second verse she sang the first one again and messed up the lyrics, confusing all those singing along, but it was hilarious nonetheless. She thanked that it didn’t rain on her show. At the request section people brought signs along with GAMBLER on them, due to a request on the Madonnatribe forum. She did acknowledge it but said she didn’t remember the words to that one as she didn’t even remember the words to her recent songs, which is true. So we got another Express Yourself. We left after Ray of Light as we had a feeling traffic was going to be a bitch, and we were right.

The bus was no longer there and we didn’t want to get crushed in the subway. For 45GBP a taxi got us back to our hotel. This was the best choice we made all day as we later heard that 25000 people were left stranded at Wembley as busses and subways were not operated at that hour.

London, September 12 2008

Finally a day with no obligations. We still got messages that things still weren’t OK in the Eurotunnel so we started to slightly worry. We saw Eden Lake in the Trocadero cinema in the afternoon which was stunning. Met up with Tony to get me my much wanted Madonna items, bought some Krispy Kream donuts which I am addicted to. In the evening had dinner with Sharon, Steve, James, Dan, Mario and Paolo in Zizzi’s, had a great time and food was lovely.

London/Amsterdam September 13/14 2008

After messages that the Eurostar was working again but with delays and only 6 trains per day, we lost all faith in getting back home safely on Sunday. I booked a coach with Eurolines by phone to get back to Amsterdam which left that same evening at 10.30pm. Not looking forward to it, but knowing it was the only way to get home back on time I had to. Didn’t do much the rest of the day, just really again wanted to go home.

Arriving at Victoria Coach station that evening I asked a lady behind the counter how to get my ticket printed. The lady said she would print it when I would be checking in at 9.30pm. So I came back and checked in with a different lady, who simply told me ‘love, you should’ve been here at 8pm to get your ticket, now the office is closed’. Well that was it; my London disaster trip was complete. I told the lady that her colleague had told me to wait until check-in at 9.30pm to get my ticket, so please get me my ticket NOW! Within a minute I had my two tickets.

We left at 10.30pm on our way to Dover. Of course we got stuck in traffic again which led us to miss the boat to Calais. We had to wait one hour to get on the next one, well one hour quickly became two hours, and I had trouble keeping my eyes open. On the boat we drank something. Now the boat itself had some difficulties and arrived also with a big delay in Calais. When we got to Calais and got back on the bus I fell asleep immediately. Of course I woke up every now and then but slept most of the time until about 9.30am when we were somewhere in Holland. Even though we already had a huge delay the driver still thought it necessary to stop everywhere for 30 minutes each time.

With a three hour delay we finally arrived in Amsterdam at 12.30pm, completely knackered. My mother picked me up and when I got home I first showered for over an hour, then fell on the couch with my dogs and fell asleep. What a terrible trip, it had been so exhausting. London so hadn’t been worth it all.

Amsterdam / Paris September 19 2008

After a little less than a week of gaining my breath and strength (no I did not have time off of work, I had to work like everyone else) I was actually looking forward to see the show again. Early in the morning we were at the central station in Amsterdam (Hans, Simon and me), we took the Thalys a little before 6.30am to Paris. At Schiphol Amon and his girlfriend Willemijn joined us and in The Hague Caroline entered the train. Trip was over before we knew it, due to all the Madonna talk we had.

sskim18Our hotel was located near the Gare du Nord, but still we could not check in until 3pm so we decided to change into more suitable clothes (it was very very warm and the sun was shining) and hit the town. Amon and Willemijn decided to go out together and Hans, Caroline, Simon and me went to Lucky Records by foot. It was a bit difficult at first to see how we had to walk, but this went OK. When at Lucky Records it was crowded (as usual) and we bought the new Spotlight fanzine and I bought the Gambler 7” from Portugal as the sleeve was a bit different from other pressings.

After Lucky Records we went to Chatelet where we visited the Forum des Halles and searched for Fnac. Caroline had to pick up her tickets here for both shows in Paris. I was very happy to find the USA 2 x 12” vinyl for Give it 2 Me and the USA edition of the Give it 2 Me 12” picture disc. Hans and me bought both records and I also bought the USA vinyl for Amon. We then drank something and visited the Notre Dame. Back at the hotel after A LOT of walking we all searched for a restaurant for some dinner. This wasn’t as easy as expected, either it was closed or it was sandwiches only.

Thankfully we stumbled upon an Italian place where we all ordered pizza or pasta. My penne with four cheeses was nothing special really. We weren’t totally happy with what we were served, but at least it filled our stomach. Everyone then went to their hotel rooms to rest a bit. Me and Simon explored the neighborhood a bit further and then also fell asleep immediately in our hotel room.

Paris, September 20 2008

After a nice breakfast we went onto the next sightseeing trip and saw the Sacre Coeur. A huge climb but the view was amazing. Ate a nice crepe Nutella and photographed some pigeons, I ignored the damn Eiffel tower as to me it’s such a boring thing. When we walked back we found the very first large billboard poster that promoted Madonna’s Filth and Wisdom (her debut as a director) in Paris, where the movie was already featured in cinema’s. We reached the Madeleine where we ate a sandwich with cheese, which was near Hotel de Crillon where Madonna was staying.

sskim19At the hotel we already saw Madonna’s hotel parked at the side, in front of the hotel it was crowded with hundreds of people waiting to see Madonna leave the hotel. It was very very hot and people got burned in the bright sun. After waiting for over an hour Madame finally left the hotel. At her request the car was almost parked in the entrance to the hotel, so we couldn’t see much when she finally left. She wore a cap and sunglasses, looked down, did not smile, did not wave and was in her car within seconds. Guy Oseary also came out and got in the same car. It all went so quickly that I couldn’t take a pic, what a disaster! With previous tours Madonna made a little more effort to at least smile or wave. This was just a waste of time so we decided not to visit the hotel the next day.

We then set out on our long journey by foot back to our hotel at Gare du Nord. Had dinner opposite the street of our hotel, vegetarian couscous and French fries. By train we went to Stade de France which only lasted for 3 minutes. At the stadium it was really crowded, we arrived very late and Bob Sinclar was already halfway his supporting act. The stadium was huge (similar to the stadium in Berlin) and the golden circle was almost the entire field, what a joke. We saw many disappointed Hot Ticket holders who had all expected to be in a separate field near the stage, when they found out they were all the way in the back they got very angry (they probably did not know of the early access). Someone got so angry that he threw his Hot Ticket laminate to the security and said ‘keep it!’

Madonna starts her show at 9.30pm and she was in good spirits. Nothing much went wrong this evening, she was happy with the audience and their enthusiasm and told them that. At the request section she sang Express Yourself. We danced our asses off during the show, our spots weren’t that great so wanted to make the best of it. Absolutely dead we left the stadium and at the train station first took a different train one stop further so we were sure we could sit on our way back to Gare du Nord. It was quite chilly outside; I found a promo billboard of Filth and Wisdom and bought an unofficial poster. At the hotel again we went to bed.

sskim20Paris, September 21 2008

Martijn had arrived from Holland yesterday and managed to get a ticket on the street for last night’s show. Simon, Martijn and me again went to Lucky Records and then drank something at Starbucks. At sskim21Forum des Halles we informed at the counter of the cinema whether Filth and Wisdom was in original language and indeed it was, with French subtitles. We bought tickets for the feature at 1pm, even though it was 1.10 already. When we got there the feature had just started and since it was very dark we had to feel the chairs to see where we could sit. We thought the movie would last for about 45 minutes but almost took up 90 minutes. It first was a bit hard to get into, but once you got into it, it was great fun. There were a lot of Madonna elements in the movie such as the blind poet who’s named Christopher Flynn (M’s ballet teacher), we heard Secret Garden and Erotica and Angela (M’s previous manager) had a cameo in the movie as an assistant.

We really liked the movie and thought M’s debut as a director was a success.

Back to our hotel then, to dress up in our tour gear and have dinner at the same place as yesterday. But to my horror I discovered bits of meat in my food, we got into a bit of an argument with the waiter but we declined to pay for it as this simply wasn’t vegetarian! Thankfully he understood us.

On our way to the stadium we got out at a different stop which led us to walking quite a distance. We got in early and met up with Guy Oseary, also took a picture with him. We found a nice spot on the right side of the stage. After Bob Sinclar Madonna took the stage at 9.30pm but our spots weren’t as nice as we initially thought. The sound was soooooo loud that we couldn’t see the show without having to put our fingers in our ears, and everyone around us did so. It looked as if the speakers were about to be blown up, I haven’t heard the sound being this loud at all previous shows.

We remained at this spot until after ‘Music’ and then went to the back of the golden circle as our ears simply couldn’t stand the noise anymore (Hans had left the spot earlier). We then saw the entire show from the center of the catwalk in the back of the golden circle. Since it was our last show, we jumped, danced and sang as much as we could. Madonna again put on a great show with minor flaws. After the show we met up with a very sweaty Tony and after eating some French fries took the train back to our hotel. On our way I bought an unofficial American Life poster and unofficial Sticky & Sweet shirt (I did not like the official ones). Simon also got me some NRJ promo posters, the waiting for the train took longer than yesterday, but soon got back at Gare du Nord.

Then we let our feet have their much deserved rest.

Paris / Amsterdam, September 22 2008sskim22

With the Thalys we went back to Amsterdam (Amon and Willemijn had left the previous day). Exactly one month ago we started our tour by flying to Cardiff and exactly one month later to the day our trip was over. In Rotterdam the camera crew to Dutch TV show ‘Man Bijt Hond’ got on board as they were filming us for an item in their show. They then filmed us at my place and then the adventure came to its end.

Conclusion =

Sticky & Sweet wasn’t my favorite tour by Madonna, of all tours I have seen live this is my least favorite. I did enjoy the show, but it lacked attitude and personality I had come to expect of Madonna by watching the previous tours. The show bored me quickly. My best experience by far was the show in Berlin, everything was just superb. The trip, the hotel, the people, the food, the surroundings and most of all = the show! We had the best spot ever, all the way in the front at the right side of the stage, there was no pushing, no shoving, no screaming, no hysterics everything was so incredibly laid back. We spent the entire time waiting for the show sitting on the floor at the barriers, amazing! Madonna was simply stunning in Berlin, she enjoyed herself and she made a lot of contact with us, we were incredibly close to her which made the show extremely special to us. Amsterdam was simply the best show she put on, never before have I seen her this cheerful and in such good spirits.

My least favorite shows were in Dusseldorf and Frankfurt, it was just Madonna doing her thing without any passion, nothing special at all. London was the biggest disaster when it got to the transport back to Holland due to the fire in the Eurotunnel. The 13 hour bus trip was awful and never want to repeat this again. It was a tour with a lot of troubles but also a lot of fun. The weather was simply amazing; with the Confessions Tour there was rain everywhere, now we even got a tan! The hype to see Madonna was a bit gone though (talking about the non fans), still people inside the venue’s were panicking, pushing, shoving etc.

It was amazing to see Madonna perform again, especially when she really brought something new such as the stunning new version of Like a Prayer and the incredibly beautiful You Must Love Me. She also never danced and moved as much as during this tour, two thumbs up for that!

I had a great time with all my friends and with Guy Oseary who we saw during seven of our eight shows. Had great contact with dancer AntBoogie, and loved speaking to the other dancers. Now I hope Madonna takes a break and won’t bring us another tour for the next three years, hopefully then with no Ray of Light and a lot less guitar! But without joking around, it’s great to be a fan of an artist that at age 50 can still deliver such energetic shows such as this and thankfully she still tours, I am very grateful for that. But I do think as a Madonna fan you are entitled to your own opinion and don’t force yourself to like everything that Madonna does, simply because she is Madonna. Nobody’s perfect…..not even Madonna! I have to admit that I am starting to miss Madonna, the tour and my friends….