Hours spent waiting in the rain for a tardy Madonna were quickly forgotten as audiences were treated to a setlist punctuated with bawdy jokes and anecdotes
Pop star Madonna has spoken emotionally about her estranged son, Rocco, at her first Australian show in 23 years.
The singer wiped away tears as she discussed her custody battle with ex-husband Guy Ritchie, and dedicated the song Intervention to Rocco.
Pictures of the 15-year-old were projected behind the star as she sang.
The performance was part of an intimate one-off show at The Forum in Melbourne; which was only open to 1,500 competition winners.
Called Tears Of A Clown, it presented the star as a confessional singer-songwriter (albeit one dressed in a circus outfit), as she ditched her dancers and dissected her most personal songs.
They included Mer Girl, from the album Ray of Light, which Madonna said was inspired by visiting her mother’s grave and finding it covered in weeds.
The show started three hours late after rehearsals over-ran, leaving fans – some of whom had been queuing since Monday – waiting outside in the pouring rain.
But when she finally took to the stage, shortly after midnight, Madonna received an enthusiastic response from the audience, who shouted “we love you” and “you’re the queen” as she trundled around the stage on a tricycle.
The star repeatedly insisted Tears Of A Clown was “brand spankin’ new” and a “work in progress”.
“I want to make a disclaimer,” she said. “If anyone thinks they came here to see a finished final show, there’s the door.”
Her tribute to Rocco came seven songs into the set.
“There’s no end to the mistakes I’ve made,” she said. “Everybody knows the saga of me and my son Rocco. It’s not a fun story to tell or think about.
“I probably could have enjoyed myself a little bit more on this tour if he hadn’t disappeared so suddenly, and also if I knew when I would see him again. I want to dedicate this next song to him, to Rocco.”
The song, from the American Life album, opens with the lyrics: “I’ve got to save my baby / Because he makes me cry / I got to make him happy / I got to teach him how to fly.”
The setlist included covers of Stephen Sondheim’s Send In The Clowns and Elliot Smith’s Between The Bars; alongside fan-favourite tracks like Take A Bow, Don’t Tell Me and I’m So Stupid, the latter of which had never been performed live before.
Between the songs, Madonna exchanged banter with the crowd, reflected on her past relationships and told jokes – both lewd and hackneyed. “Do you guys know how you kill a clown?” went one. “You go for the juggler”.
But, aside from a ukulele version of Holiday, which closed the show, the music was sombre and melancholy.
Madonna explained she had chosen a clown theme for the show because “to me they symbolise heartbreak. There’s something tragic about clowns because they try so hard to make you laugh, to make you smile.”
“They are obviously covering up something, there is something going on inside. What do you think is going on inside of me?”
The show, at Melbourne’s Forum Theatre, took place hours after a hearing took place in London’s High Court to resolve a custody dispute between Madonna and her former husband, film director Guy Ritchie.
The couple, who divorced in 2008, are negotiating over the future of their son, who left Madonna’s world tour and moved in with his father late last year.
The hearing continues on Friday.
Read more at BBC
Celebrating her long-overdue return to Australia after a 23-year absence, Madonna treated fans to an intimate show billed as Tears of a Clown at the Forum Theatre. RICHARD S HE was among the fans who witnessed the (very late) night of performance art, comedy, story telling and music.
Only hours before her hyper-exclusive fan show’s scheduled to start, Madonna put this up on Instagram – “I am presently experiencing life at a rate of several WTF’s per hour”. It’s good to know that one of the most famous women in the world still gets nervous.
The doors opened around midnight, three and a half hours late. A handful of fans had been camping out since the morning of the day before. It didn’t matter. Like those elusive Prince afterparties, the later the show starts, the more rewarding it is. Tonight, we’re all impressionable teenagers again, rediscovering feminism and queerness and sexuality and the sheer liberating joy of pop music.
From top to bottom, Tears of a Clown is surreal. It’s hard to process the fact that Madonna’s finally back in Australia, 23 years after The Girlie Show. It’s bizarre, seeing her in the flesh. It’s hilarious, seeing her ride onstage on a miniature girl’s bike, clad in head-to-toe pink top hat, wig, and clown makeup. But as she opens with a trip-hop version of ‘Send in the Clowns’, we’ve never taken her more seriously. Later, she flashes us and throws peanuts at the front row, and hey, we came for that too.
It’s been over a decade since we last saw Madonna in confessional singer-songwriter mode. Tonight, she’s still a feminist/queer icon, but the larger-than-life popstar Madonna’s on the shelf. She plays mostly album cuts from Ray of Light, Music, and most surprisingly,American Life – a deeply personal album largely ignored by radio, but beloved by fans. She even covers Elliott Smith’s ‘Between the Bars’, and it sure as hell isn’t for indie cred.
Tonight’s all about storytelling and, fronting a six-piece band, her voice and lyrics are out front. Madonna’s always been a deeply underrated vocalist; she instinctively knows how to mold her voice to a song’s arrangement, emotion, words. Whether it’s over acoustic guitars or electronic backings, complete with live auto-tune, she’s in fine form.
Tears of a Clown is really a cabaret, as much about her banter as her songs. Madonna rarely gets credit for her perfectly dry comic timing, but it’s on full display tonight. She flits between telling crass jokes – “What do you call the piece of skin at the end of a penis? A man!” – and telling offbeat, moving stories. She talks about her father, who’s living his dream, devoted to tending his vineyard well into his eighties.
She recounts visiting her then-husband Sean Penn – “you know he’s a badass!” – in a maximum-security prison. Sean’s cell is next to Richard Ramirez, the infamous “Night Stalker” serial killer – and he has a line of young female groupies. Meanwhile, the most talked-about celebrity couple of the ‘80s is just… there, alone. She still doesn’t know what to make of it.
Midway through the show, Madonna confesses what we’ve all been thinking, and dedicates ‘Intervention’ to her estranged teenage son Rocco. “There is no love stronger than a mother for her son”; Tears of a Clown really only exists for this moment. Madonna finds catharsis by singing her very saddest songs. And she finds redemption by playing them to 1500 of her most devoted, neglected fans. That’s unconditional love.
By ‘Joan of Arc’, maybe the best song off last year’s Rebel Heart, Madonna’s come to terms with her own limitations. “Fame is a form of misunderstanding”, she says, but she realises she has everything else to live for. Only then can she finally pull out the hits. ‘Don’t Tell Me’ gets the first big singalong of the night. People remember that single for its kitschy cowboy-Americana video, an early predecessor to Kanye’s uncanny ‘Bound 2’. Fewer remember it for its poetic, existential lyrics. Tonight, it’s commiseration and celebration.
Madonna’s reputation as some ice-queen businesswoman couldn’t be further from the truth. She’s always been an artist first and foremost. What she’s doing tonight could melt even the hardest cynic. Tears of a Clown is about comedy, about the unexpected. It’s about laughing through our tears. This Madonna’s more vulnerable because she’s dressed in a ridiculous clown costume.
“People always ask me – why do you keep making records? Going on tour? Haven’t you done everything?… There’s no time limit on creation. When Pablo Picasso was painting, did they tell him to stop?” Madonna’s notorious, and beloved, for never looking back. Virtually all her musical peers are nostalgia acts, but she reinvents herself for every tour, every album. Tonight, she revisits a handful of mostly 13, 15-year-old songs – around the age of her son – and rediscovers the soul they always had. Tonight’s intimate affair only deepens the giant arena tour we’ll see in a few days’ time.
Just before 3 a.m., Madonna finally closes with ‘Take a Bow’, and a ukulele encore of ‘Holiday’. Everyone’s exhausted, but it feels like she could go on forever. Maybe in another 23 years?
Send in the Clowns (Stephen Sondheim cover)
Drowned World/Substitute for Love
Between the Bars (Elliott Smith cover)
I’m So Stupid
Paradise (Not for Me)
Joan of Arc
Don’t Tell Me
Take a Bow
See more at FasterLouder
It was close to 1am by the time Madonna finally came trundling on to Melbourne’s Forum stage on Thursday, dressed in a bright yellow clown smock, riding a tiny tricycle and waving to a sea of 1,500 competition winners. Doors had been billed to open at 8.30pm and many had waited in the rain for hours. One fan claimed to have been standing outside the venue since Tuesday.
Music critic Lachlan Kanoniuk attended the intimate, offbeat and highly confessional cabaret show, and said when the American singer-cum-circus clown entered to the sounds of Stephen Sondheim’s Send in the Clowns, “everyone was like: ‘Oh shit, that’s Madonna doing laps on the stage, on a tricycle.’ ”
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In her first Australian show in 23 years, the Material Girl prefaced the Tears of a Clown performance by apologising for any mistakes, calling it a “rehearsal” she had only practised a couple of times, Kanoniuk said.
She will be back in full pop star mode on Saturday when she performs at Rod Laver arena, before heading to Brisbane and Sydney.
Of the stories told throughout the two-hour performance, she recalled visiting her mother’s grave overgrown with weeds and played the song it inspired her to write, Mer Girl. She wiped away tears as she discussed losing custody of her 15-year-old son, Rocco, to ex-husband Guy Ritchie, before performing Intervention.
In another she spoke about visiting then-husband actor Sean Penn in jail, whose jail mates at the time included serial killer Richard Ramirez, aka the Night Stalker. “It was quite a serious story but punctuated by these soundbites of goofy cartoon noises,” Kanoniuk said.
The show also featured “a weird mix of old vaudevillian-style, M15+, smut humour and bad wordplay; some jokes about clowns, sex jokes that were really quite bad but she had such great comedic delivery – kind of knowing the jokes were shit and using them as a segue into songs.
“Like: ‘I don’t have bipolar disorder but I am a little borderline’, and then playing Borderline.”
She said she would “rather die than work in Vegas” and in another bawdy joke asked the crowd to guess the punchline to her joke: “What’s the difference between a car tyre and 365 used condoms?”, wiping a $100 note between her legs and offering it as a prize.
Kanoniuk said an audience member successfully answered: “One is a Goodyear and another is a great year.”
In her cover of Elliott Smith’s Between the Bars, one of the biggest names in pop music showed a side of herself few in Australia had seen: no costume changes, no highly synchronised dance moves, just Madonna playing an acoustic guitar and baring her soul on stage.
Kanoniuk likened it to Prince’s recent intimate “piano and microphone” tour, which kicked off in Australia. “These artists are watching the machine of the music industry crumble away, so they’re thinking why the fuck not do whatever they want, and while they can still get away with it.”
• Madonna plays Melbourne’s Rod Laver arena on Saturday and Sunday, Brisbane Entertainment Centre on 16 and 17 March, and Sydney’s Allphones arena on 19 and 20 March
See more at The Guardian
Madonna performed her song Intervention as images of her son Rocco flashed on a screen behind her Twitter
MADONNA has made another emotional onstage tribute to her son Rocco, this time during a one-off musical comedy show in Melbourne, Australia.
The 57-year-old singer staged the free gig, a combination of performance art, comedy, storytelling and music called Tears of a Clown, for members of her fan club as a way to thank them for waiting 23 years for her to tour Down Under.
The show saw Madge arrive onstage in a clown’s outfit riding on a tricycle, and included a performance of her song Intervention dedicated to her estranged 15-year-old son, the subject of a bitter custody dispute between the singer and her ex-husband Rocco Ritchie.
Before she began the song Madonna said: “Oh there’s no end to the mistakes I’ve made.
“Anyway everybody knows the saga of me and my son Rocco. It’s not a fun story to tell or think about. I probably could have enjoyed myself a little bit more on this tour if he hadn’t disappeared so suddenly and also if I knew when I would see him again.”
The song, from Madonna’s 2003 album American Life, includes the lyrics: “I got to save my baby/Because he makes me cry/I got to make him happy/I got to teach him how to fly.”
As she sang, images of of Rocco appeared on a screen behind her.
The singer, who is said to be on the brink of a meltdown over her rift with Rocco, also expressed regret over causing pain in other people’s lives.
She said: “I won’t hurt anybody. I won’t hurt anybody ever again in my life. I never want to be the cause of anyone’s pain ever again in my life.
“There is absolutely no logical reason for me to be here where I am in my life today. I know there’s no way I could ever have imagined my life turned out the way that it did. That’s the beautiful thing about magic and art.”
The tribute follows Madonna’s breakdown onstage at a concert in Auckland, New Zealand, where she also dedicated a song to Rocco, telling the crowd: “There is no love stronger than a mother for her son.”
At the Melbourne gig Madonna explained why she chose to dress as a clown, saying: “There’s something so attractive about clowns because they try so hard to make you smile, to make you laugh.
“I actually tried to wear one of those big pairs of shoes and they were impossible. It is an art form. You have to practise for months in those and I haven’t had that opportunity.”
As promised there was also some comedy, including a gag that had Madonna asking: “What’s six inches long, has a big head and makes the girls go crazy?”
The answer was a hundred-dollar bill.
Madonna also performed a set list of fan favourites, including Don’t Tell Me, I’m So Stupid and Nobody’s Perfect, as well as a cover of Elliot Smith’s Between the Bars.
The star will end her Rebel Heart tour with shows in Brisbane and Sydney next week.
Read more at The Sun
Good things come to those who wait. For Madonna’s Australian fans it’s been a long time between drinks, with the global superstar setting foot Down Under for the first time in 23 years.
Her choice of venue – Melbourne’s historic Forum – was inspired, and her crew lit up the grand old dame in a way that showcased all her delicate charms in a way I can’t recall any other act having ever done.
After all that time, a few extra hours spent waiting around outside (and around the corner and down the side laneway) didn’t seem to dull her loyalists’ spirits. Quite the opposite: they used the time to sing medleys of their idol’s tracks until the doors opened late on Thursday night.
In the end they got almost two hours up close and personal with Madonna. For the queen of self-control, it was an open, at times even vulnerable insight into her persona. She seemed relaxed, drinking Cosmopolitans as she spoke at length between songs.
She made her entrance on a tiny tricycle, dressed in a clown-like outfit of yellow swing tunic and pink and white striped stockings, topped with a pink wig and a white top hat perched askew, she launched into Stephen Sondheim’s melancholy Send In The Clowns.
The Tears of a Clown show, a reward for fans who had waited more than two decades for her to return, was a combination of relaxed insight, frank reflection and some seriously daggy gags.
Her set was largely a roll call of her lesser known songs mixed with bona fide hits, some in an almost unrecognisable arrangement.
Substitute for Love was followed with a cover of Elliott Smith’s Between the Bars and a few more recognisable tracks, including Tell Me and Borderline, and a ukulele version of her 1980s smash hit Holiday for the encore.
She dedicated her song Intervention to her 15-year-old son Rocco, who is the subject of custody negotiations with her former husband Guy Ritchie. She also discussed her father at length and paid tribute to her late mother.
Performing with a fairly subdued backing band, Madonna fluffed a few songs, but warned the audience they were viewing a rehearsal, yet for what was not entirely clear
“This is some brand spankin’ new shit,” she told the audience. “I hope you like it raw. It’s rough as f—.”
Madonna plays Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena on Saturday and Sunday, Brisbane Entertainment Centre on March 16 and 17, and Sydney’s Allphones Arena on March 19 and 20.
Read more at TheAge
Madonna had a special treat in store for a select few of her Australian fans, returning to the stage Down Under for the first time in over 20 years.
And by a “special treat”, we mean a one-off show which saw her dressing up as a clown to perform a string of her lesser-known classics, incorporated with stand-up comedy and revealing details about her personal life.
The pop diva has returned to Australia after a 23-year absence, and to apologise to her Aussie fans for making them wait so long, she gave a special performance like nothing she’s ever done before in the form of her ‘Tears Of A Clown’ show.
Billed as a night of comedy and performance, she ditched her big hits like ‘Like A Prayer’, ‘Vogue’ and ‘Hung Up’, in lieu of slightly more niche album tracks like ‘Mer Girl’, ‘X-Static Process’, ‘Joan Of Arc’ and a cover (admittedly a pretty ropey one) of Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Send In The Clowns’.
Madonna took to the stage just shy of four hours late, with fans having been queuing up outside for the intimate club gig all night, but judging from the cheers that erupted when she hit the stage in full clown regalia, the wait didn’t seem to be too much of an issue.
In one of the night’s more touching moments, she also got teary while discussing the ongoing custody issues surrounding her son, Rocco Ritchie, who is now living with his father, Guy Ritchie, in London, rather than with her in New York.
Admitting she missed her son, she then launched into a performance of deep cut ‘Intervention’, singing: “I know that love will keep us together, I know, I know there is nothing to fear, I know that love will take us away from here.”
One minute she’s riding a tiny bicycle around the stage and squeezing a comedy horn, the next she’s in bits singing a ballad for her estranged son. All in a day’s work for Madonna, eh?
On Saturday night, it’s business as usual for the Material Girl, who resumes her ‘Rebel Heart’ tour with a gig in Melbourne, before going on to Brisbane and Sydney, where her six-month world jaunt comes to an end.
Read more at Huffington Post