COLOGNE – LONDON
April / May 2003
After the release of my favourite album ever, “American Life,” Madonna was coming over to Europe to promote the album. We truly enjoyed the MTV Special “On Stage And On The Record,” and were dying to see her in person again too. We heard it through the Grapevine that Madonna was going to be the main guest at a German TV show titled “Absolut Madonna.” We found out what number to call in Germany in order to buy tickets and immediately made the call, this was all a little rushed and unexpected.
A guy named Wolff answered our phone call and unfortunately had to break it down to us that the tickets just sold out. I was completely heartbroken and didn’t get why, once again I was late to the party. Wolff sympathized with me and told me if there would be any returned or unclaimed tickets he would notify me first. I thanked him and kept my fingers crossed I was still able to attend the taping of the show after all. The show was going to be recorded in Cologne Germany which is quite near Amsterdam.
Later we also learned that Madonna would be performing at CD:UK in London and after several phone calls to London we were added to the guestlist. The taping of CD:UK would be an exclusive recording for Madonna only with no more than 200 attendees in the studio in London. I remember having this old skool white A4-sheet with all the details scribbled on by pen. Back in those days, you made arrangements by phone and had to write it all down. I Couldn’t believe my luck when one day Wolff from the production team in Cologne called me to say he had two returned tickets for me and had put me down for two on the list. I was so grateful to him and we had a very fun and lengthy chat over the phone.
A little while before we were going to travel to Cologne to attend “Absolut Madonna” we were a guest at BNN’s “That’s Live” Radio show on April 27th. Eddy Zoey was chosen to interview Madonna for the promotion of her new record and was here to discuss meeting her. Eric Corton hosted the radio show that aired live. There were quite a few Madonna fans with us and we participated in a quiz and Madonna music was being played. After the taping we met up with Eddy Zoey and Eric Corton and were given the printed rundown of the show. During the Re-Invention Tour in London (Wembley Arena) we ran into Eddy Zoey again, he was there with his girlfriend to see the show. He told us that he absolutely adored the Drowned World Tour and that he was a massive fan.
ABSOLUT MADONNA RTL
Cologne April 29, 2003
I think I honestly slept for 15 minutes the night before we were to take the train to Cologne. Feeling like I was high on lack of sleep we took the ICE train from Amsterdam Central Station, we had great luxurious seats and our carriage was almost empty. After three hours by train we arrived in Cologne and directly went to the studio’s. It was around noon when I noticed I could hardly walk due to drowsiness. I realized that I really needed some sleep, it felt like I was floating instead of walking and my head wasn’t clear at all. Friends that were staying in Cologne offered me their hotel room to take a rest. I gladly accepted their offer and managed to sleep three hours.
Around 3.30pm we arrived back at the studio in the sunny weather, it got a lot more crowded with fans though. Unfortunately I heard that I had just missed Madonna’s arrival, but hey sometimes you got to make sacrifices. We were one of the first to enter the studio, unfortunately since I was on the ‘returned tickets’ list they couldn’t find me, thankfully Wolff came to the rescue. He got me my tickets and we could finally enter the lobby. I had just bought a Hotdog when I heard that we were allowed inside the studio, bye bye Hotdog. I rushed to the entrance doors with a friend, when we got in we ran to the seats at the very front row of the tribune. We were too late to find a spot on the stage, but we were now front row of the seats right in front of the stage where she would be performing, so that was pretty damn good!
Now we just had to wait, the show was hosted by Oliver Geissen and he just kept on talking in German of which I didn’t understand a word. Several little compilation clips were being shown on a large screen about Madonna. When a favourite video of Madonna was shown everybody in the audience cheered, it was a lot of fun. There were also some German guests whom I didn’t know but they were interviewed about Madonna. Finally I saw Madonna’s band enter the stage. And then I saw her….MADONNA!! She was standing backstage talking to somebody from the show. I could see she was wearing a hat and black top, from what I could see she looked amazing. When she made her grand entrance, everyone around me jumped up and started to scream.
“American Life” was the first song she performed, at first I was a bit let down that she didn’t sing live, but that is usually the deal with TV shows. I kinda screamed along to every word and the crowd got even more enthusiastic when the “fuck it’s” came up. Right after ‘American life’ Madonna kinda turned her back to the audience and took her position in order to perform the second song. But there was no music and Madonna and band were just standing there. Suddenly someone from the crew walked up to her and there was a big discussion. It seemed there was a miscommunication and Madonna had requested to perform all songs first before sitting down for the interview. The lady from the crew ran away again, so Madonna looked annoyed and grabbed her water bottle. She sat down on the stage and was obviously not happy. Through the sunglasses she just put on she looked at the audience acting quite impatient. Of course the fans didn’t mind and kept cheering her on, while M wasn’t having it, it was kind of awkward. The lady from the crew came back and spoke to Madonna. Madonna then took her position again and “Hollywood” started. Madonna danced her ass off and sang a couple of lines in my direction and I happily sang along to everything.
We didn’t know what the third song was going to be and our guess was on “X-Static Process”, but we were wrong as we recognized “MUSIC.” Madonna took off the sunglasses and boogie-woogie’d her ass off. After “MUSIC” everyone around me was really sweaty and it felt like we had just been at a Madonna concert. Madonna was then surprised as she received an award for American Life, Mirwais seemed to be more pleased with it than Madonna was. She then went backstage to get a touch-up. She then walked over to the left side stage where Oliver Geissen would be interviewing her. The interview to me was extremely boring, because Madonna’s voice was overdubbed live, we couldn’t hear a thing of what she was saying. After about 20 minutes the interview was over and Madonna told us goodbye.
We were allowed to leave the studio as well and went outside to see if we could see Madonna’s exit. When she came out we couldn’t see a thing, it was way too dark. We grabbed a taxi to the airport because we had an early flight to London the very next day. We decided to spend the few hours we had left at the airport sleeping on some benches like true homeless people.
London May 2, 2003
Once in London we tried to get inside the Jonathan Ross taping but unfortunately didn’t succeed. We did attend the taping of a very boring TOTP episode instead. May 2nd was the day of the special one-off recording of CD:UK!! We had been waiting outside the studio since 11am. Just 200 people were registered on the guestlist for this special Madonna taping.
Madonna arrived one hour before the doors would open, we laughed as we waved to the dark windows without actually being able to see her. When the doors to the studio opened and our names were checked on the guestlist we entered the small-sized studio. We found an excellent spot right at the front on the right side of the little stage. Two huge billboards of the American Life artwork had been decorated on both sides of the stage, and I really wanted to take it home. Madonna’s band arrived quickly and entered the stage, when Monte passed me by I said ‘Hi Monte!’. He surprisingly turned around to face me, smiled and said ‘hi’ back. I couldn’t be happier as I was standing right next to the stairs Madonna had to use to get on stage.
When I looked at the entrance door to my right, through which we had just entered the studio, I saw Madonna walking in! She looked absolutely breathtaking, I think that was my all-time favourite look of hers right there. She had walked in and stood in the dark corner with Caresses Henry and Angela to her side. Madonna seemed very calm and she kept staring at the floor, while Caresse Henry turned to look at me. I gave her a smile and she smiled right back at me. I couldn’t get over how beautiful Madonna looked, it was surreal just seeing her standing there in the corner waiting for her cue. She moved her chin up and locked eyes with me, I don’t know if she actually saw me or was just staring into nothingness (probably) but I was frozen to my spot. She closed her eyes and seemed to be saying a silent prayer or even meditating, but she was definitely in her own bubble. My stare was broken as someone from the security team came up to the stage right next to us. I looked to my right and saw Madonna walking up to me, she stopped right next to me and waited a few seconds before she made her entrance on stage. I was dying inside, it was the first time I literally stood shoulder-to-shoulder with my idol and I noticed the craziest things. There was fluff on her top, she smelled fantastic and she was even shorter than me! I remember Simon was trying to show her his Madonna tattoo, but she kept her eyes locked on the floor at all times.
Everybody cheered her on and it’s crazy how when she’s on stage she suddenly becomes like this force and doesn’t seem short at all anymore. Someone in the crowd commented on her red shoes, so she pulled up the leg of her pants so we all had a better view at these amazing shoes. A friend of mine said to her “you look stunning baby!”, to which she replied “thank you baby!” Cat Deely introduced her and she performed “American Life”. again we just went crazy, also Madonna seemed to be having a good time. I think this was the tiniest studio where I have seen her perform.
When the performance finished, Cat Deeley interviewed Madonna shortly and then they performed “Hollywood”. Madonna had taken off her beret and believe it or not, was looking even better! During “Hollywood” she was just a ball of energy and danced non-stop! When the song ended she spoke a bit more to the audience and with Cat, she also confirmed a tour for the next year (2004). I didn’t really believe her as she promised tours in the past before (but boy was I wrong this time.) She chatted some more with the audience and Cat, then said goodbye. She made her exit and passed me by again, once again eyes locked on the floor.
After the recording we left the studio on a high, we also waved to Madonna when her car drove off. We went to the shops and bought the “Die Another Day” DVD (the James Bond one) which had been released that same day.
The next day the performances were already shown on TV, it was so great to see it again! But the thing that disappointed me was the fact that they cut a lot of Madonna’s jokes and chats with the audience. Thought it was very funny that you could see glimpses of me standing next to the stage, I recognized my blue pants. It again had been a wonderful Madonna adventure. Too bad that we couldn’t attend Madonna’s gig at HMV the week after due to work commitments. But still this year had turned out to be excellent so far, it delivered her best ever album and she was looking better than ever!
Kimberly van Pinxteren (2003)