Fifteen years ago I saw Madonna perform live in person for the very first time. June 22, 2001 Berlin Germany is where it happened. I didn’t see The Girlie Show in Frankfurt as it got canceled and was too young going elsewhere, every opportunity to see Madonna live simply failed. I knew for the next big tour I was on board and as unexperienced I was, I booked various travel arrangements which did not make sense at all.
I ended up witnessing four Drowned World shows live, two in Berlin and two in Paris. I remember getting my Berlin tickets by mail and feeling like it was the winning lottery ticket, it was simply priceless to me.
Going to the extremely tiny Max Schmeling Halle by subway, arriving in a total Madonna frenzy. Literally feeling like I had just come home, I have never felt so in place and so welcomed as I did back then and there. Madonna fans everywhere; fans dressed up as Madonna, wearing t-shirts with her face or name on it and of course TONS of cowboy hats.
I almost shat my pants when I realized just how incredibly intimate the venue was, it was so tiny! I ended up front row on the left side and no more than ten minutes later the lights went off. I panicked instantly, what to do? Where to look? Seeing Donna and Nikki in person for the first time was so surreal that I even panicked more thinking I was about to see Madonna……MADONNA!! The intro to the show gave me goosebumps all over, that music, the set, the screens…..
There she was seemingly coming out of nowhere, at this point I panicked so much that I didn’t know whether to cry, scream or sing-along. So I kinda did a bit of it all at once. Seeing Madonna in person was probably the single most surreal moment of my life. She actually existed, she actually was a real person. I know it sounds crazy, but I had idolized her for years wondering what she was like in person.
The show was brilliant from start to finish, everything about it just rocked my world and sent chills up my spine. The brilliance of opening with a ballad, going into the fantastic Impressive Instant, that absolutely mindblowing geisha section (her most theatrical performance ever), the fabulous cowgirl section, the breathtakingly beautiful latin section and ending it with that thumping finale of Holiday and Music.
After the show I was a in a daze and just did not want to leave the venue, wanted to stay in that moment forever. I was in such a natural high and was so shocked by what had just happened. That night I dreamed of the show seeing Madonna perform Nobody’s Perfect throughout the entire night.
To this day I still think it is the best show she’s ever put on, the darkness of it, the absolute sheer brilliance behind it. There is absolutely nothing like it and the DVD just somehow never captures ‘that’ feeling, ‘that’ moment. I would KILL for a European professional recording of this tour.
I have seen all of Madonna’s tours since then; the Re-Invention Tour and Confessions Tour were fantastic. The MDNA Tour in 2012 was absolutely the best thing since the Drowned World Tour, it brought ‘Madonna’ back. I never cared much for the Sticky & Sweet and Rebel Heart tours, it just wasn’t a Madonna show to me.
Drowned World to me was Madonna at her very best and I feel thankful to have seen it live. If I coud turn back time, I am sure I would’ve booked every single European night instead of doing only 4. But hey….I was just a kid….
Kimberly van Pinxteren