Matthew Hemley: Madonna’s no-phone zone was heavenly, is it time for theatres to follow suit?

Something unusual happened at the London Palladium last Sunday, when I caught the closing show in Madonna’s three-week residency: there wasn’t a single phone to be seen in the auditorium. Not one.

There was no filming her on stage, no horrid glare from the screens as people checked for messages and – perhaps most importantly – no one getting irate at others for using their devices during the show. It was a phone-free zone, and it was heavenly.

The Queen of Pop had insisted that everyone attending deposit their phones into small pouches, which were then sealed, given back to us to hold on to, and only unlocked at the end of the show.

It was all done seamlessly, effectively – it was quick and efficient. There was no queuing for the pouch to be unlocked at the end – a front-of-house staff member was stood at our exit, and within seconds had released my phone and returned it to me.

The result was an experience I’ve not had for some time. In the auditorium, prior to Her Madgesty arriving on stage, there wasn’t a mass of people, heads down, glued to their phones. Instead, people were talking to each other, taking in the magnificence of the Palladium and getting excited about the show that was to come. It forced us all to be very much in the moment.

Photo: Shutterstock

And during the show, the only thing you could see ahead of you was the stage and Madonna. At other concerts, you’d expect to see row after row of lit-up phones, as people take pictures, film or FaceTime friends so they too can be part of the experience.

Once again, the no-phone zone meant all we were able to enjoy was the performance itself. It was wonderful and strangely liberating not having the temptation to look at my phone.

Admittedly, I was a little worried when I first had my phone sealed away that I wouldn’t be able to receive updates from the babysitter should there be any problems. But pretty soon I was able to rationalise this, and get my head around the fact that two hours without a phone would be okay. Plus, I’ve become so used to turning my phone off at the theatre anyway, that anything important has to wait for the curtain to come down. There’s usually nothing that couldn’t have waited.

I tweeted about my experience after the show, and while most were in agreement with Madonna and her desire to create a show free from electronic devices, some raised concerns about being out of contact in case a relative needed them.

I understand these concerns, but I think, in most cases, a couple of hours out of contact isn’t going be problematic for the majority of people.

We’ve become so used to being contactable at any time of day, wherever we are, that we think we have to be. We don’t. What about when you’re on a flight? Or at a swimming pool? Are you worried then? Most things can wait, and I certainly hate the idea that theatre is somewhere it’s okay to keep your phone on in case something bad happens.

It was wonderful and strangely liberating not having the temptation to look at my phone

You have to ask yourself, if you’re really worried about someone’s health prior to seeing a show, should you be going to the theatre at all?

I’m told (though this wasn’t conveyed to me) there were exemptions at Madonna’s show for people on medical grounds – those who need their phones for reasons to do with their health, which of course is only right. I also understand people were free to go to a member of staff at any time and ask for their phone to be unlocked, so they could check it if they needed to.

I would be interested to see if theatres follow Madonna’s lead and try this out in future. It wouldn’t work for all venues and shows as some productions encourage you to film the finale and share it.

And of course, it wouldn’t solve the problem of phones ringing in the auditorium if they haven’t been put on silent.

But I think it’s something to consider, and I for one would be keen to see it happen more often. I take my hat off to Madonna. She put on a great show, and she made sure everyone who paid hundreds to see her was able to enjoy it without a screen in the way.


Matthew Hemley is news editor of The Stage

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Madonna: the “Madame X Tour” arrives at the Grand Rex in Paris this weekend

The big day has arrived ! The “Madame X Tour” arrives in Paris for 11 performances scheduled from this Saturday, February 22, 2020. This series of concerts will close the tour that started in September in New York and then passed through Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, Lisbon and London for the promotion of the album “Madame X” released last summer.

What does Madonna have in store for her French fans?
As reported by the AFP, since the start of her tour, Madonna has offered a show combining song, dance, one-man show and shows a real artistic proposal, while being in constant interaction with her audience. The American star chose to perform in theaters to strengthen proximity with his audience. “I wanted to offer a different experience. You know, I’ve been doing this for 30 years, I’ve played everywhere: in arenas, stadiums, festivals, Colosseums … I wanted something new. This new experience is more intimate. I want to be close to the public and be able to feel them, ”she explained to us during her Chérie FM interview.

A political and committed show
Madonna has imbued her show with her commitments and tackles in turn sex, politics, religion, feminism, hedonism. This two-and-a-half-hour show was introduced by a phrase by American writer James Baldwin: “Artists are there to disturb the peace.” A replica that the rebel star had chanted to brave the forced closure of his London show on Wednesday, February 5. If the show promises to be colorful, fans will be prohibited from filming it as well as the artist’s team.

Source: AFP / Cherie FM

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Madonna Makes History With 50 No. 1 Hits

For a long time, Madonna has been referred to as the Queen of Pop, and while that’s certainly a fitting description, she should also be known as the Queen of the Dance Floor, as her biggest songs have always performed well in clubs all around the world. The superstar is no stranger to scoring No. 1 hits on pop and dance charts, but her latest win is truly special, as she makes history by rising to the top of one of Billboard’s genre-specific tallies once again.

On the soon-to-be-published Dance Club Songs chart, which ranks “the most popular songs played in dance clubs, compiled from reports from a national sample of club DJs,” according to the media outlet, Madonna lifts from No. 2 (where she currently ranks) to No. 1 with “I Don’t Search I Find.” The song is her fiftieth chart-topper on the list, and that’s not just a record on that one tally.

According to Billboard, Madonna is now the first musician to collect 50 No. 1 hits on any chart. The company now compiles dozens of rankings every week, and throughout the decades, no artist has racked up as many leaders on any list as the Queen of both pop and dance now has on the Dance Club Songs roster.

“I Don’t Search I Find” is featured on Madonna’s recent album Madame X, which dominated the Billboard 200 last year for a single frame. The tune benefits thanks to a handful of popular remixes, which is common for a new cut from the singer-songwriter. It’s the fourth No. 1 from the set, following “Medellín” with Maluma, “I Rise” and “Crave” with Swae Lee. 

Madonna already held the record for the most No. 1 hits on any one Billboard chart before this week, but reaching 50 rulers is a milestone worthy of noting. Country favorite George Strait has earned 44 No. 1 smashes on the Hot Country Songs tally throughout his career, which continues to stand as the second-greatest accumulation of leaders on any list.

Coming in a distant second place when it comes to No. 1s on the Dance Club Songs chart is Rihanna, who has pushed 33 tunes to the top. She reached that sum faster that Madonna did, and she will likely continue to add to her total whenever she has new music to share.

More at Forbes

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Madame X wraps up London!

Madonna played the last night at The Palladium yesterday in London.

Starting with ‘Vogue’ people were presented with the short version of the show as expected (it was the 2nd of two in a row). The polaroid sold for 1.3K.

According to people present Adele and Bridget Fonda were there. People were once again raving about the evening.

Le Grand Rex here she comes!

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Only 1 more show to go London!

Madonna wrapped up her 11th show at The Palladium in London last night, started on time.

She performed the full show and according to people there was absolutely on fire! She sold her polaroid for 2.5K and the beer bitch of the night was Gwendoline Christie (GoT). People present said that Penelope Cruz was there along with Guy Oseary.

There was a Piers Morgan reference during the ‘small penis joke’. 

On to the final London show tonight!

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