SINGAPORE — The controversy in recent days over Madonna’s first concert here — sparked by the Catholic Church’s advice to congregants to skip the show — did not carry over into her performance at the National Stadium last night, as she kept to her word to observe cultural sensitivities.

The pop diva’s 90-minute gig, which was rated R18 for sexual references, was attended by around 25,000 fans, a fraction of whom were moved to better seats so that other fans’ view would not be blocked.

Other than the last-minute shuffle of seats, the show went without incident.

Over the past week, the Catholic Church and other religious organisations expressed their concerns over the American pop superstar’s concert. Archbishop William Goh had reminded Catholics and the Christian community of their moral obligation not to support “the ‘pseudo arts’ that promote sensuality, rebellion, disrespect, pornography, contamination of the mind of the young, abusive freedom, individualism at the expense of the common good, vulgarity, lies and half-truths”.

Responding in a statement on Thursday, a spokesperson from Madonna’s Rebel Heart Tour said they are “aware of the cultural sensitivities, and Madonna is excited to share her celebration of art and music with her fans in Singapore”. Earlier, the Media Development Authority had reiterated that content that is offensive racially or to religions would be in breach of licensing conditions, with the singer told not to perform her controversial song Holy Water in her concert here.

Her set-list on Sunday included tracks from her new album such as Burning Up and Heartbreak City. She also revisited old favourites such as Like A Virgin, True Blue and Crazy For You.

The Philippines, her last stop before her Singapore show, wants to ban the singer after she “disrespected” the country’s flag by draping it on her during her concert there last week, AFP reported.

Mr James Lee, chief executive of Kinglun International Holdings, an investor in the concert, said the shuffling in the seats was because of a category of seats priced at S$388 that would have affected the view of some of those who had paid S$188. As a result, around 600 to 700 concert goers got an SMS Sunday morning informing them they would be moved around, including some lucky fans who held S$288 tickets but got bumped up to S$588 seats.

“Some of the S$188 ticket holders wanted to know why there were people standing in front of them. Because of this, we asked for all those holding S$388 standing tickets to be upgraded so they can move to the empty seats up front,” said Mr Lee ahead of the show.

Fans who got an upgrade were pleasantly surprised, noting the tickets were pricey.

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