Madame X….what an amazing album, another work of genius with the incredible Mirwais (responsible for my all time favourite Madonna albums and songs). The era started off so well with the best lead single since ‘Hung Up’, ‘Medellin’ was and is just lush! The music video lived up to the song and attending the fabulous MTV World Premiere back in April in London was the icing on the cake. The incredible photoshoots, the stunning artworks, the absolute masterpieces of music video’s……it was shaping up to be one of her best era’s ever.
The Madame X Tour was announced in the Sunday edition of the New York Times on May 5 where a large full page ad appeared. The excitement was beyond! Madonna was about to embark on her first ever theater tour, she wanted to be intimate with the crowd and be able to look into people’s eyes. Phones and camera’s were restricted throughout the entire tour, she wanted people to enjoy the performance through their eyes instead of through their phone screens. Quite a bitter pill for me to swallow at first as I rely on our private pictures for many of our artwork for the website. I understood where she was coming from and decided to accept it and remember the good ol’ days of Up For Grabs, Drowned World and Re-Invention where we were forbidden to take photographs as well (but still tried and did anyway).
The second bitter pill came when it was announced there was a fan club lottery in order to obtain tickets with a maximum of FOUR tickets per city. A lottery? Four tickets maximum? How were we going to do this? We decided to try for as many shows as possible and help each other out if we were lucky enough to ‘win’ access through the lottery. Stress, stress, stress. This should’ve been a warning from the start that this tour was going to be like none other we had experienced before. But for the good or for the bad? If I’d known what was in store for me, I would’ve made quite a few changes to the chosen dates and the trips I was about to take.
Unfortunately Madonna was only going to perform in three European cities (Lisbon, London and Paris). I decided to try for London and Paris as I wanted a ‘stress-free’ tour this time….oh gosh laughing my head off just thinking about this. Flying in an airplane would’ve been the least of my worries when I look back at it all. So London went on sale and I was lucky enough to get a code through the lottery and decided on tickets for February 4 + 5. I almost exploded with joy when I saw I got dead center row B for February 5! For February 4 I managed row D on the side, another very good ticket.
For Paris I decided (like so many of us) to book tickets for the first few shows (February 18/19/20/22/25) and later added March 8 to that list because I managed to buy front row through the fanclub pre-sale (another new date, another new code). Thankfully I was able to book those shows with the help of my friends we all used our codes to help each other out. I was still planning on trying to score a ticket for London February 6, so that would bring my total of shows to 9. I usually plan on seeing 12-13 shows during a tour (as I explained before is just the right number for me before I get A)bored and B)broke). Since the tickets for this tour were undeniably more expensive than previous tours this also limited my budget. Don’t forget all the hotels and transport we booked. Knowing Madonna was such a reliable live performer and such a trooper we booked everything far ahead. We did inform about insurance but turns out insurance does not cover cancelled events. Madonna was not one to cancel a show so we felt happy with the tickets we scored and were now very much looking forward to the tour.
Things started to go wrong on August 27, the first three dates of the tour (in NY) were either postponed or cancelled, leading to many angry fans that booked non-refundable trips and hotels. The tour opened on September 17 at the BAM in NY and started two hours late. Reviews by fans were mixed, this was an entirely new concept so it took some getting-used-to by many longtime fans. Reviews by journalists on the other hand were very positive. Due to the no phone rule, there were no photographs and social media appeared completely dead on opening night. Madonna’s photographer Ricardo Gomes was hired to shoot photographs and video’s of her during the tour and those were being posted on Madonna’s social media. The press either used these images or those provided by Stufish to go with their articles. Throughout the tour more dates got cancelled and or moved because Madonna was injured, she spoke of a bad knee and later also hip issues. Unfortunately these injuries wound up completely controlling the rest of the tour. By the time Madonna finally got to perform in Europe many dates had already been cancelled and or postponed. Our excitement was turning into stress by the minute.
Postponed / cancelled dates and a family death
So my precious dates were no longer. Madonna postponed the first two Paris shows originally scheduled for February 18 and 19 to March 10 and 11. I decided I wanted a refund instead of booking another new trip and hotel for the new dates (probably the only good decision I made throughout this tour). So that was two dates less on my original list of 9 shows. Madonna cancelled certain dates in London and Lisbon too, technical difficulties and ongoing injuries were cited as the reasons. I was still fairly certain that no more dates of mine would be affected, I mean weren’t there enough cancellations already?
Unfortunately during this time my cousin passed away due to a brain tumour he had been battling for the past two years. My cousin was my age and we basically grew up together. In the two weeks before his death I tried to visit him as much as I could, seeing him decline in such a state was absolutely heartbreaking. We heard that his funeral would be held on February 4, the same day I was about to depart for London to attend my first ever Madame X gig. I immediately purchased new Eurostar tickets for an additional 260EUR (non-refundable tickets again) so I could attend the funeral early in the morning and take the train that left at noon. If things weren’t hard enough, the news reached us on January 31 that Madonna cancelled her February 4 date in London. I completely broke down. There was the loss of my cousin, his upcoming funeral and if that wasn’t stressful enough my date for which I just spent 260EUR more was now officially cancelled. My husband decided to purchase new Eurostar tickets for me for later in the afternoon (4pm) so I could attend the entire funeral and not leave early. To top it all off I was asked by my cousin’s mother (my aunt) to speak at his funeral. I felt I needed to do this so I agreed, but added another layer of stress to my already unstable mind……when I found out I was the only one that would be speaking at his funeral, I was about to freak out.
Amsterdam / London February 4
The day had arrived and my level of anxiety went through the roof. Thankfully to two oxasepam pills I managed to make it through the funeral and I spoke about me and my cousin and how we grew up together. It went surprisingly well and it was a moment I could say I was actually proud of myself for making it through one of the hardest days of my life.
If the day wasn’t crazy enough already, I still needed to catch the Eurostar to make my trip to London. I met up with Dave at Amsterdam Central Station where I was still very much high on pills so I kind of floated on to the tracks to wait for the Eurostar. Our trip went very well and I felt like a load had been lifted off of my shoulders having made it through this trying day. When we arrived in London and checked into our hotel, we decided to meet up with Hans and Ronald who were in London too. Hans originally had tickets for February 4 as well, and since this was his only show booked he wasn’t happy too. He managed to score tickets for another night and still enjoyed that performance even though they were presented with the short version of the show (minus the first three songs) due to her injuries. We ate my most favourite pizza at Pizza Express in Soho and had a great time. After finishing dinner I devoured my first alcohol drink of the day. Arriving back at the hotel I think I slept before my head even hit the pillow.
London February 5
Was I finally going to see the show tonight? At this point the tour had already become a Russian Roulette, would you or wouldn’t you see it? I tried to keep good faith as our seats for tonight’s show were the best of this tour, dead center row B. First thing we did after breakfast was going up to the theater to see where it was located. Upon arriving the good ol’ butterflies suddenly returned and I felt all giddy again. A feeling I haven’t felt since attending the MDNA Tour, extreme excitement (not occident) and no, not like that. Taking the obligatory pictures and then trying to fill our day waiting for tonight’s show.
We ate at Pizza Express again (safe food) and made our way to the theater to witness the show. Upon arriving I heard someone call my name and when I checked it was one of my favourite people in the whole world…..Steve originally from the U.K. and now a Canadian resident. I hadn’t seen him since Sticky & Sweet back in 2008 and we first met while waiting for meeting Madonna at her Adventures of Abdi signing back in November 2004, fond fond memories! Needless to say it was an intense reunion and we spent the next few hours together. Once inside we joked around, took some crazy photo’s at the photo booth and did some good ol’ gossiping.
When Madonna’s band started playing we decided to go and see where our seats were. The theater was incredibly intimate and I instantly had an ‘Up For Grabs’ deja-vu. Our seats though…..holy crap…..they were as good as the front row. Aside from being in the pit during the Re-Invention Tour this was probably the closest seat I have ever had (given there were no barriers and stuff). My anxiety had made room for happiness. It felt a bit weird because I was still struggling with my cousin’s death but somehow it felt like I deserved this experience and my cousin wanted me to enjoy it.
Thank God for curfews as Madonna started around the clock of 9! From the opening intro into God Control I was just standing there with my mouth open, completely in awe of how close I was. Madonna was in such good spirits and I couldn’t notice any injury at all, she was dancing as much as the dancers were. She was really into it and giving it her all, smiling throughout. Dark Ballet (one of my favourite songs) was so theatrical and Human Nature (again?) was actually fabulous. I didn’t care too much for the polaroid moment, just thought it went on too long and brought a pause that wasn’t really needed. But I understand and respect why she does it (RaisingMalawi). It sold for 2000GBP tonight despite there being another offer of 2000USD from someone who hadn’t had the pleasure to buy it before. However Madonna chose to go with the 2000GBP as it was a little more than the same amount in dollars. Surprisingly there was no beer bitch moment (she sits down with someone in the audience and drinks a beer) but she commented Andrew Lloyd Webber was present, sat down and sang ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ a-cappella. What a moment! I remember after literally every song looking at Dave and just saying ‘WOW’ I was completely blown away by every song, the visuals, her energy, just everything. For me the song that stood out was ‘Batuka’, I was moved and I had chills all over. The women were incredible performing with Madonna, it was so uplifting, so energetic. It brought me to a whole new world. I was so impressed.
The whole fado section was absolutely incredible. Extreme Occident was so artistic, at one point her just standing in front of me reaching out her right arm to the side. It was nothing spectacular but her stage presence is out of this world! Killers Who Are Partying another highlight, the song has so many layers and even though I adore the song on the record, live it just added to it, outstanding. I loved everything about this section, it was flawless. More highlights followed, the breathtaking ‘Frozen’, the joyful but impressive ‘Come Alive’ and the new version of ‘Future’. I personally could’ve done without ‘Like a Prayer’, but I understand why this fan-favourite was included. She resembled her Blond Ambition era A LOT in this particular section, same look.
Right after ‘Like a Prayer’ we heard her say that she wasn’t done with the show yet and had one more song to do. We had no idea why she was saying that but it became clear she went past the curfew and the theater was about to pull the iron curtain on her. The curtain was indeed pulled and the lights were turned on. Everyone in the audience was looking around confused not knowing what was going on. But then, the dancers and Madonna still came on stage and performed the final tune ‘I Rise’ in front of the red curtain. Since there were no visuals and no music, we sang the track to Madonna and she sang it back. It was a true deja-vu with her Rebel Heart performance in Glasgow back in 2015 where the same thing happened. The energy was amazing. So Madonna sang the track and kept jumping up and down and dancers joined her. At one point dancer Nicholas grabbed Dave’s MX flag and started waving it around. We were absolutely losing it and going crazy. Being this close and singing a tune together with your fave is a moment I shall cherish! She exited the stage through the crowd and once again we were still high on adrenaline. I have seldom felt this way after seeing a Madonna show. It is such a rush of energy, like a form of fuel to get yourself going strong. Completely in awe we grabbed our stuff and made our way outside, beaming smiles from ear to ear. We could see from the faces of fellow fans outside that everyone shared our feelings about tonight’s show.
This was without doubt the best Madonna show I have ever seen.
London February 6
Waking up and still being high on adrenaline? Yes it’s possible!
What a show, what a night, what an artist!! I have missed THIS Madonna so much. This Madonna was completely absent during the Rebel Heart Tour. The Madonna that puts her heart and soul into her show, which she sees as her way of artistic expression. THAT Madonna we’ve come to get to know and love during her Blond Ambition days was back in full force and the feeling was so overwhelming. To actually see Madonna enjoying herself on stage, doing what she loves to do, feeling proud of the work she’s put out, being a true artist!
Thank God (or ticketing) to be able to score tickets for tonight’s show. We had no idea where our seats were going to be, it would be a total surprise. We spent the day by getting tattooed (Dave) and shopping for horror books (Kimberly). Besides that I kept trying to update the website but wifi kept cutting out saying my connection wasn’t private and more bla bla bla. Believe me that’s frustrating when you try and be a webmaster. Stuffing myself with Krispy Kream donuts and Cadbury’s Crunchie bars was a nice way to deal with that frustration.
Guess where we ate that night? Yup you got it! Another pizza at Pizza Express (can I get a discount now? think I am loyal enough) we just didn’t want our bowels to interfere with another Madonna spectacle that night. Back at the theater and went up to the box office to collect our tickets. We had a name check and found out I put in the request under Dave’s name but thankfully he brought his ID. Tickets were good! Stalls row E isle seats! All giddy again we went inside and checked out our seats. They were once again pretty damn good.
Another early start (even though a bit later than yesterday) and she opened with ‘Vogue’, as expected she was performing the shortened version of the show as this was a second night in a row of two shows. Madonna wasn’t wearing the wig for the first section which to be honest suited her A LOT better. She looked absolutely radiant, she was glowing! MDNA Skin must be worth quite a fortune. Madonna took the time to explain to the crowd that if she is performing two nights in a row we will be presented with the shorter version on the second night. It was either that or no show at all. She asked the crowd what they would prefer and of course the fans wanted a short show instead of no show at all (would’ve Madonna really expected a different answer?).
Madonna was once again in great spirits and it showed. She did mention the curtain being pulled on her the previous night a number of times and joked around about it. When explaining how Madame X came to be, when she moved to Lisbon and all she said it went something like this: ‘I went to Lisbon, became a soccer mom, got bored and made a record’. It was absolutely hilarious, her cheeky mood was contagious and everyone was laughing with her. After singing the fado song ‘Fado Pechincha’ with Gaspar (the grandson of Celeste Rodrigues) she said ‘this was dedicated to the two people that just left’……She said she would try her best to speak as fast as possible and shorten all of her speeches. She did so, but in true Madonna style, it was hilarious (and no rehearsed jokes a la Tears of a Clown). She was annoyed by people leaving the theater to get drinks or have bathrooms breaks, she wanted the doors to be kept shut and kept on commenting on it. No beer bitch moment again but a wonderfully rendition of Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘The Sound of Silence’. She sat on the stairs right in front of us and it felt like a private performance….chills all over. She made her exit through our isle during ‘I Rise’ and when she passed by us we both got to ‘fistbump’ her. We were actually the first ones to do so when she walked by, we were like ‘well that just completed our night’.
When we returned to our hotel we walked down Oxford Street and I noticed a young man coming our way holding hands with a girl. He looked strangely familiar to me and thought he looked quite old fashioned with his James Dean hairstyle. When he was right in front of me I knew why he looked so familiar….it was Madonna’s son Rocco Ritchie! He was dressed in good taste and laughing with his lady friend. Dave hadn’t noticed at first so I whispered it to him. What are the odds?
Paris February 20/21
Thinking the worst of the cancellations were behind us….we got a very unwelcome surprise when on February 11 both February 20 and 25 were cancelled. Of course more of MY dates! I was especially heartbroken because of the cancellation of the 25th as that was the only VIP night I had booked and had a front row center seat. Originally I bought tickets for my husband Dirk to attend the 20th with us as a birthday present, so I had to tell him that unfortunately we had to endure another cancellation. My mother was going with me to Paris for the show on the 25th as a birthday present to me, everything was booked. Hotels and trains were all paid for. The extreme high I’d felt after attending the London shows slowly drifted away and I became super stressed and despressed. How many more of my dates would be (Madame) axed? So far, out of the 9 shows booked 5 shows had been either postponed and or cancelled.
Dirk decided to come with me to Paris on the 20th anyway. Let me tell you that these were the second tickets we had bought for the Thalys. Previously we booked our Thalys trip for the 18th but since those dates had been postponed we had no choice but to take our loss and book new train tickets. But as it seemed now, Dirk would be attending no show in Paris and return without it. Are you keeping up? I am getting confused, so you are probably too…..I am sorry for this, I didn’t come up with that ridiculous tour schedule. I kept hearing and reading left and right about so many fans losing their hard earned money over non refundable flights and hotels due to all the cancellations, it was heartbreaking. I know like no other how badly you want to see your idol perform and the fear of completely missing out. There was no excitement for these shows anymore, all that was left was the fear of more cancellations.
Dirk and me hopped on the Thalys on the 20th to Paris and on our way Dave joined the train from Brussels. We checked into our hotel and decided to make the best of our day together in Paris, playing typical tourists. Before we were about to explore we walked up to the Le Grand Rex theater to check out if they were still working on getting all the props inside. Well the props were still left out in the streets (no wonder there were technical difficulties later on). Nothing much happening here so after a Chai tea latte at Starbucks (soooo sweet, it hurts my teeth) we played tourists. That evening we met up with Dave and Fred and had dinner in the restaurant underneath our hotel. We had a lot of fun and were all very much looking forward to the opening night show which was now scheduled for the 22nd. The main subject however was ‘what if she cancels again?’……..
Dirk sadly had to leave the very next day as his show (the 20th) never happened. I stayed in Paris with Dave in the same hotel to attend the show on the 22nd. Le Grand Rex had put up some fantastic live shots by Stufish outside to promote the event. Unfortunately today I ate something bad, it was probably the so called fresh avocado wrap I bought at Pret a Manger, but my stomach was never quite the same after that. So my day was spent indoors watching various movies with Daniel Radcliffe surviving some sort of jungle. In the evening we set out to have dinner with Alex (Madonnalex) and Fred at a very popular pizza place and it was indeed delicious. We finished our night by drinking at an Irish pub bar and then went back to our hotel.
Paris February 22
Finally the third day spent in Paris actually meant seeing the show, that is if she wasn’t about to cancel again. I was so confused, Madonna had seemed perfectly fine in London and there were no signs of any injuries. She had a whole week off between her London and Paris shows, I just couldn’t understand the reason for cancelling the 20th.
That afternoon there was a scheduled meet & greet with Grammy award winner Tracy Young (she won for best producer for ‘I Rise’) at the fantastic Lucky Records. We made our way to the event and settled upon a spot in the corner. We were told we could ask Tracy a few questions after she was done with the meet & greets for an exclusive interview. Quite a few fans had gathered in front of Lucky Records to meet her. Many people walked by wondering what the fuss was all about and I heard several people saying that Madonna was in ‘that store’. People grabbing their camera’s and then confused when seeing Tracy…..
When the meet & greet was over plans had changed and we were actually invited to come and have lunch with Tracy Young in a nearby restaurant. At first things were a bit awkward as we never got to fully introduce ourselves and suddenly sat at a large table in front of her. It was like ‘hello Tracy, we are here and we are going to watch you eat’. It was a bit uncomfortable, but only just a bit! Once we got to talking to Tracy, things loosened up quickly. Dave was recording the interview on his phone and he asked most of the questions. Tracy ordered a Thai salad and kept apologizing for eating her way through the interview, we said it was no problem at all. I discussed various Madonna tracks with her and the work she did for example on ‘Music’. At one point she asked me if I played an instrument because it seemed it was like I really knew what I was talking about. Later she asked me for my sign, I said I was a taurus and she said that that explained a lot….our chat with Tracy was actually one of our highlights of our Paris trip. She was such a nice lady and so laid back, loved everything about her. We spent over 30 minutes speaking to her and then decided to take some pictures together outside the restaurant. She happily posed for the many pictures we wanted to take and also signed various stuff for us. I was also happy to hear that they were ‘aware’ of MadonnaUnderground and knew which website it was.
For dinner that night me and Dave met up with team member Amon and his girlfriend Willemijn at another pizza place. Unfortunately I didn’t like my pizza as it tasted undercooked so didn’t eat much. My stomach was still bothering me and felt like I had just eaten the wrong meal that upset my bowels even more. Besides that it was fantastic finally meeting up with Amon again! Tonight was going to be his first and only show of the Madame X Tour, unfortunately he had been sick for the past three weeks (no it wasn’t the Coronavirus). After dinner I needed to go back to the hotel first as my stomach was troubling me. Swallowed more pills (think it was my fifth) and hoping it would settle everything down.
Arriving at Le Grand Rex we heard that there was a huge delay and the doors would not open until 9pm! Here we go again. Bye curfew in London, here I am back in a country where I am allowed to start as late as I please. The official reason though were ‘technical difficulties’. We went to Cafe Maribelle opposite the theater and had some drinks. Many people joined us in the meantime. I suddenly started feeling unwell and dizzyness hit me. I needed to run to the bathroom not once but three times in the span of 30 minutes. I literally felt all my energy being drained from my body and told Dave that I thought it would be better for me to go back to the hotel. Believe me I got to be feeling REALLY sick if I am about to skip a Madonna show. But then I thought it might be a good idea to visit one of the pharmacie’s here and see if they had some kind of wonder drug. Dave went with me and after presenting me with the usual drugs and telling the man that those didn’t work, he gave me a small pink box with four sachets in it. He told me to take one of them and empty it underneath my tongue. The little box cost me a total of 10EUR but at that point I had nothing to lose. So I poured the powder underneath my tongue and went back to Le Grand Rex with Dave.
After going through the check we were finally inside the theater. It was a lot smaller in the lobby than The Palladium was and also a lot more humid. I started feeling a little bit better and my stomach completely settled down….the relief!! Thank God for that little pink box, you saved my night! We spent our wait speaking to Jochen and Ken from Belgium and Aaron (Madonna’s make up artist). We heard she wouldn’t be starting the show until midnight……really woman? REALLY??!! It was true, she indeed did not start the show until friggin’ midnight, in London we would be in bed by now. It was incredibly hot inside the theater and I used some paper to create a fan. The crowd was as good as dead at this point. People to my left were actually sleeping in their seats. Dave and me had isle seats in row G which gave us a wonderful view of the entire set. Madonna was like a completely different woman than the one we’d seen perform in London. Madonna came across as stiff and not feeling the show and the crowd at all. It didn’t help that someone in the audience shouted ‘BORING’ during the intro which featured Ahla Malik. So many people were tired from the hours of waiting they just couldn’t give her the enthusiastic reactions she was expecting.
The people didn’t quite get Madonna’s jokes and here Madonna started the ‘all seven of you’ joke. It wasn’t until American Life that people were starting to get into the show and dance along to the beats. Frozen was without a doubt the favourite song performed that night but I kept seeing confused faces around me, or was that exhaustion? Jean Paul Gaultier was of course the beer bitch of the night and it was actually a cute moment and wasn’t too long. During the fado section Madonna commented on the music coming through from the disco downstairs, we could actually hear the beats of the music being played there while M was performing hers, it was confusing. Madonna was annoyed by people going in and out of the theater (and getting their popcorn) and demanded for the doors to be kept close shut. I was shaking my head when she said she was annoyed by the curfew….WHAT curfew Madonna, do you even own a watch? Have you seen what time it is? Shouldn’t your kids be in bed right now? Which time zone are you in right now? There was no security on our side and people kept on walking through the isle to the front. It was quite an unsatisfactory show especially for opening night in Paris, the city that has always shown Madonna their love and support. The show was still on point, but Madame X herself seemed quite different from the one we saw in London.
Paris February 26
Because my VIP night on February 25 was axed but transport and hotels had already been paid for, my mother decided to come with me anyway. We decided to stay one day longer so I could try for a ticket on the 26th. It was no VIP night but better this than nothing. The show had been plagued by technical difficulties again since opening night on the 22nd, with electricity going off for a full 15 minutes right before Batuka on the 23d.
Me and my mother arrived in Paris on the 25th and I showed her around Paris as she’d never been there before. The weather did not cooperate and it kept on raining every single hour. Thank God for Uber and umbrella’s. My mother actually really liked Paris and admired the many beautiful buildings.
I had no idea where my seat was going to be that night or what time the show would even start. The last time I was here on the 22nd Madonna did not get on stage until midnight. Since my mother decided to hang outside with me at Cafe Maribelle opposite the theater I didn’t want us to wait too long. Happy to find out that tonight’s show was scheduled to start a lot earlier and they were looking at a 9.30/9.45 show. Since it was already near 9pm we quickly paid the bill and I crossed the road to join the ‘invites’ queue. Getting inside was quite a journey as the French security had no idea why I didn’t bring a ticket, I showed them my printed information instead and finally was led to the customer service desk.
It turned out I was blessed with a fantastic isle seat at row I in the orchestra. This was without doubt the best view I had so far. I was right in the center of the orchestra so I would be able to see the show as it was meant to be presented. Since I was on my own I tried to make the best out of the remaining time until the show would start. Madonna’s band had already been playing their music once I made my entrance, so I knew it wouldn’t be too long now.
I was right. The lights went off at somewhere around 10pm and I was truly shocked at this (for Madonna) early start of the show. She performed the full show starting with ‘God Control’, she seemed to be in a great and witty mood. She mentioned later on that tonight’s show was a weird one (why I don’t know). After performing Human Nature, her daughters Mercy and the twins joined her on stage and Madonna asked Mercy ‘did you brush your teeth?’ Mercy acknowledged that she did, so Madonna asked ‘what did you have for dinner?’ and Mercy said that she ate some pasta. Madonna then said that this was a bit of mother and daughter entertainment and that she had to get on with the show. It was great to see her having fun on stage again.
The polaroid sold for 2000EUR to a Dutch girl who’d saved up money since September for this. After performing Killers Who Are Partying Madonna spoke to two people in the audience who were holding camera’s and that she didn’t appreciate it. Then told the security to do something about it and she sounded very stern. She became quite witty during ‘Welcome To My Fado Club’ and did some freestyling along with Ahla Malik and concluded with a ‘boxing session’ just so she could see if her band was keeping up with her, it was quite the moment. No beer bitch moment but she sat down on the stage with her son David and tried to sing ‘La Vie En Rose’ with a little (a lot actually) help from her fans in the audience. Madonna was enjoying herself throughout the show and kept on cracking jokes.
Adrien Galo (MDNA Tour dancer) sat right in front of me and he was enjoying himself by dancing throughout the show. Tracy Young sat in the row to my left and also danced from the start until the very end. For Madonna’s exit during ‘I Rise’ Madonna walked through the isle which was right where I was seated. Security ordered people to take a step back. Madonna passed by looking perfect as always, holding up her fist. I decided not to ‘fistbump’ her this time but to just smile at her and enjoy the moment.
The show concluded at 00.30am.
Paris March 7
While being back in Holland I very much wanted to add another date to my booked shows, so was discussing with Hans to go to the March 1 show. It turned out unfortunately that we both couldn’t make it that day. I had a previously scheduled children’s theater show to attend with Jax and Hans needed to work, so no show on March 1 for us. Another good decicion because as it turned out, this show got cancelled on the day. Madonna had fallen on her ass during the previous show while she performed ‘Vogue’. It hadn’t done much good to her already bruised body.
Me and Dirk had added the March 7 show when the originally scheduled show of March 20 had been cancelled. As mentioned before that was his birthday present from me, so I still wanted to give him a second show. We previously bought tickets for the March 8 date quite a while ago when they first became available through the fanclub pre-sale. I managed to score three first row tickets for the March 8 performance, so we kept on crossing our fingers and saying little prayers in our head that we could at least attend that date.
To be honest with you, Paris had been suffering badly from Madonna’s injuries leading to last minute cancellations and late starts. We all agreed that we would be happy once the tour was over with. Not because we didn’t enjoy the show, but because the Russian Roulette was absolutely killing us! The usual excitement counting down the days of going to see a Madonna show were long gone. Now it was like holding our breath, try not to choke and breathe a huge sigh of relief once we were actually let inside the theater. There was nothing fun about this, nothing at all. I missed the days where we were actually guaranteed a performance once a ticket was purchased. Madonna has never been one to cancel dates.
Unfortunately by attending the March 7 show I was unable to attend my uncle’s 50th birthday. We did try and explain that hotel and transport tickets had been paid for months ago and that the M tickets weren’t cheap. Not only that, back then we didn’t know when he was actually going to celebrate this. So we tried to explain, but still felt a lot of guilt that once again a family event was affected by another Madame X cancellation.
Me and Dirk drove by car in the morning of March 7 to Paris. The trip went very well and we arrived a little before 2pm. I had reserved a spot in the parking garage Rex Atrium, which you can guess was right near the theater. We stayed at the same hotel me and my mom were one week before. I felt stressed out and I kept checking my phone. My gut was telling me to prepare for another cancellation but I didn’t want it to be real. There were absolutely no signs that tonight’s show would be cancelled but some little birdie kept telling me it would.
Madonna performed two fantastic shows on March 3 and 4 according to fans present and she even performed the full show on a second night! Fans were saying that she seemed to be in such good shape they had good faith she would complete the final four dates. She had had a total of 2 whole days off between the March 4 show and the March 7 one. So there was time for her body to rest. Like I said, there was no indication she was going to cancel, but I couldn’t shake the feeling something was off.
We then took an Uber to the Merci Madame X pop up exhibition/shop at 12 Rue des Filles du Calvaire. The gallery was a lot smaller than I expected it to be. Art by M A E Couture and pictures by Ricardo Gomes were there for everyone to see. Various one of a kind handcrafted art was offered for sale such as exclusive Madame X inspired shirts, tote bags and hoodies. Prints of a variety of Ricardo Gomes pictures limited to 3 were also available to purchase, but I believe they were 250EUR without frame. Unfortunately there was nothing there that appealed to me in order to spent big bucks on it. I mean 75EUR for an army themed tote bag with a badge by M A E on it was just a tad overpriced if you want me to be completely and totally honest. I appreciate the efforts and the fact that everyone sees and understands art in a different way, I guess I am more of a Rembrandt kinda girl.
I briefly met up with Fred at the pop up thingy and informed him about my concerns for tonight. He too thought there would be no reason for a cancellation, but somehow the feeling is like a rainy cloud that just won’t go away. Me and Dirk decided upon some sightseeing and proposed to go to the Champs Elysees and see the Arc de Triomphe as Dirk had never seen it before. Dirk was ordering the Uber and asked me the location where it should drop us off. I told him just say ‘Notre Dame’ and it should be fine. Dirk kept saying we’d already been there so why, but I kept convincing them that it would be allright. Uber ordered and we drove off. On our way I didn’t recognize the road and was wondering why we were crossing a bridge. The driver stopped beside the Notre Dame and asked ‘this okay?’ I was shaking my head in confusion…..hey I wanted to go to the Arc de Triomphe! Then it FINALLY hit me (after all these years the effect of being blond hasn’t decreased) I completely mixed up Notre Dame with Arc de Triomphe. My head was spinning! Now I understood why Dirk didn’t understand I wanted to be dropped off at Notre Dame…..
I guess this was the point when I knew that my head wasn’t there, it was busy worrying over tonight. Since we had already visited the Notre Dame (barely visible behind struture after the fire) we walked to Lucky Records which is nearby. I introduced Dirk to them and I was asked if I would be attending the show tonight, I said yes I would. But when they crossed their fingers for me…..I just knew it. We decided to grab a bite to eat at the same place where we sat with Tracy Young. Dirk commented on me constantly checking my phone and I apologized. I explained the fear I was dealing with all day in expecting a cancellation message. Dirk still hadn’t seen the show and my biggest fear was that he wouldn’t have the chance at all. We had spent quite a lot of money on these failed Paris shows thus far and he isn’t even a fan.
Back in the hotel it was close to 5.30 when I checked my phone and was presented with the message I feared all day long. Tonight’s show just got cancelled.
No no no no no NOT AGAIN no no no no no no no.
To say I was heartbroken is an understatement. I had not only disappointed my uncle in not attending his 50th birthday, I had also managed to do it all for nothing. If Madame had only been so kind to cancel the show earlier and not just two hours before doors were to open! I broke down the bad news to Dirk. I felt so guilty to my family, to my uncle, to Dirk for dragging him with me into this complete and total mess and to my mother for being stuck at my home with Jax and not attending the party either. It was my fault. I wanted to go to this show to fulfill Dirk’s birthday present and now for the THIRD time his show was cancelled. I think at this point I was absolutely disgusted with myself, but most of all with Madame X.
How I adored the show, how I loved the album but how I had had enough of THIS. I understand that you are injured, I understand that unfortunately Europe was affected the most of all the dates planned with the cancellations and I understand Madonna that you tried to do your best. What I do not understand is how you could not have announced the cancellation sooner. Besides me many fans had traveled to Paris that day for tonight’s show thinking things would be alright. I mean it was a Saturday night show and you just had two days off and fans were raving about the past two shows. So what happened? I was especially furious when I found out that rumours had been circulating a day earlier that this show would be cancelled. Would it have hurt you so much to just announce it A LOT earlier?
To make a long story short, I have seldom felt so low in my lifetime of being a Madonna fan. Gosh how I disliked Rebel Heart and the Rebel Heart Tour but that still did not compare to the immense disappointment of the past few weeks. To think that out of my 9 booked shows 6 shows had either been postponed or cancelled was just too much to bear. I know I am not the only one and I know many other dedicated fans have been affected in a similar way. I also know that some fans out there think Madonna can do no wrong and you are not a ‘true fan’ when you speak your mind about her flaws. She is a human being, she is not perfect, she makes mistakes too. I simply couldn’t wrap my head around how this was handled.
Was Madonna even aware of her own schedule? Was she even aware of all the tears shed by longtime dedicated fans? Did she even care? Yes I know she was injured badly and I know she powered through on selected dates. But I can’t ignore the fact that I saw her riding a bike while on the tour break in December between Miami and Lisbon. Also the fact that the injuries plagued her from the start and that her doctors ordered bed rest. She said many times she didn’t wanted to disappoint fans and therefor continued the tour. But in the end many many MANY fans HAVE been disappointed by the last minute cancellations that could have been prevented! I guess it is an insurance thing. At the end of the day it’s all about the money.
We met up with Fred for dinner and had a look near the theater where a lot of unaware fans were crying their eyes out. It was such a sad sight to see. People arriving all dressed up in their Madonna gear only to find out they could return home in disappointment.
Paris March 8
Woke up feeling just as low as last night. Had this second Paris trip for Dirk been for nothing as well? The guilt I felt. One thing I truly learned from this experience is to never ever put a Madonna show before family events again.
The relief when I found out tonight’s show was scheduled to go ahead as planned wasn’t as big as I had expected. The dark rainy cloud above my head had completely taken over and any ray of light (no pun intended) was forbidden to enter. I felt sad.
Dave was on his way to Paris and was so happy to find out the show of tonight was ‘most likely’ going ahead as planned. We had checked out of our hotel so had no place to hang out and it was raining cats and dogs. Cafe Maribelle became our one-stop-candy-shop this trip and we were back drinking the hours away (no alcohol though). Things moved slowly across the street at the theater which caused some anxiety. Later we had dinner at the same place with Fred and waited until we could enter the theater. We kept reading about meetings due to the Coronavirus and how tonight’s show was supposedly on hold as all events with an attendance of over a 1000 people were going to be axed. NO MORE. NO MORE. I never want to hear someone say Russian Roulette again, it will forever be connected to this tour.
Breathing an immense sigh of relief when our bags and tickets were checked and we were actually inside the theater. So would Dirk finally be seeing the show? Pre-show we met up with other fans and discussed our thoughts about the show, the tour and its troubles. When the band started playing we went to find our seats. We had front row seats on the right side of the stage (faced from the audience) there were only four chairs there, so we took up three of them. Rumours started circulating among fans in the theater that tonight’s show was the final one. The originally rescheduled shows of the 18th and 19th of February to March 10 and 11 would be cancelled due to that damn Coronavirus. A production worker told us the show of Tuesday was planned to be filmed but the Wednesday show would be axed indeed. We did not know what to believe, but it seemed more than likely that the final two dates would be the next in the list of cancellations although this one wasn’t on Madonna.
The show started a little before 11pm and from the start it was obvious that Madonna was in pain, and not just pain but HEAVY pain. Her face just screamed agony. Getting down on her knees at the start of God Control and barely getting up to go on gave me a lot more sympathy and understanding of what she must be going through physically and mentally. Of all the selected shows I had seen I hadn’t seen her like this. This woman in front of me was worlds apart from the one that performed in London and screamed ‘censorship’ when the iron curtain was being pulled on her. Seeing her in distress totally affected my joy of watching her perform. I was happy that we were there and were witnessing the full show, but she was in such a state that I almost felt guilty (again) for standing there and watching her perform in excrutiating pain. Madonna said to the crowd that she wasn’t having her best show tonight and that she was sorry for all the cancellations, but if she couldn’t get out of bed in the morning there was no way she would be able to perform. Which I understood, but then again. If you cannot get out of bed in the morning and know you won’t be able to perform why wait until two hours before doors open to announce a cancellation? It’s an insurance thing I guess.
She told the crowd that she ‘just heard the news’ and that things could end at anytime. Was she talking about this being the final show? She said she was going to miss doing the show and was going to miss the Batukadeiras. She admitted she had a cold, which she did. She coughed during American Life and she sniffed her way through the show. Madonna completely missed her entrance at the start of Batuka and sang the entire first verse from behind the set. People were looking left and right for a sign of her, I mean we heard her but where was she? She was visibly not well and it took her (I guess) all that was left to complete tonight’s performance.
She did speak about the Coronavirus without actually calling it by its name, wondering why all these people were getting sick and what the universe was trying to tell us? Beer bitch moment was back with a French comedian. Probably my favourite part of the night because she was literally standing next to us for this. Our seats were right in front of the stairs she had to descend to get down to the chairs. She stood a while right next to me telling an Italian lady to sit down. The lady wouldn’t budge though because she had a gift (some kind of fan?) to give to Madonna, but Madonna became annoyed because she just would not sit down. The beer bitch moment took a while and she literally sat in the row next to us. At one point she twisted her head around saying ‘why are all these people staring at me?’ while looking straight into my eyes. Gosh even through the vast amount of criticism I have towards her, I cannot deny that I completely melt when I am that close to her. It’s stupid but it’s true. Somehow looking into her eyes makes you forget (most) of the shit you went through to even be there that night. That’s her power, I think she can make people forgive her everything. That’s her charm.
The show went on as we knew it and it was a blessing to be there but I couldn’t help but feeling left a little unsatisfied. Madonna gave her all and performed the show in the best way she could, but it completely paled in comparison to what she delivered in London. All the signs were there that this was indeed going to be the final show. She was emotional throughout and all of her speeches were longer than usual. It just seemed she was saying her goodbyes. When the show finished and she left through the crowd, we gathered our things and went outside. We already heard that France had decided indeed to cancel all events with a capacity of over a 1000 attendees, although this was still no official confirmation of a cancellation of the two final shows scheduled.
We went to our car and got ready to drive back home until the early morning hours. Our trip went well and we arrived at home around 7 in the morning, completely exhausted.
It was only a few hours later that the official statement was posted that Madonna was forced to cancel the final two dates of the tour. March 8 had been indeed the very final date of the tour, a very bittersweet way to say goodbye indeed.
There is no need for me to write up a ‘conclusion’ of my opinion of the Madame X tour as I think I have made that quite clear when writing this (way too long) live report.
Do I think it was her best live show? The two shows in London YES most definitely. Madame X theater show was absolutely incredible. I loved every second of it. This was the Madonna I became a fan of, it had been quite a while since I was this blown away by her live performance.
But I sincerely hope we will never EVER have to endure such a tour again. The Russian Roulette, the uncertainty, the loss of money, the everlasting questionmarks, the stress, the guilt.
Was all the stress worth it in the end? That’s a tough question to answer. The show was absolute perfection (to me) so in that regard YES absolutely. But I would have enjoyed it all a hell of a lot more if it hadn’t been for the lottery, the 4 ticket maximum rule, the postponements, the cancellations, the rude behaviour at selected shows, the late starting times (midnight in Paris on opening night!), the VIP gift book mess thingy and the complete absence from any form of apology on various last minute cancellations.
How do I wrap up such a detailed report and such conflicting thoughts?
Guess I will rise above it all…….