It’s been three years since the MDNA Tour and now Madonna is surprising us in December 2014 with six brand new songs of her soon to be released new album Rebel Heart. Will she or won’t she tour in 2015? Now that Guy is managing U2 as well, and they have been touring since May, I am okay with Madonna touring in 2016. I was surprised when the announcement did come through of a 2015 tour, taking place in November and December (Europe). I immediately had doubts about this: Winter = cold = not a fan. I agree with Kimmy not to queue this tour!
When Kimberly and me are in Paris for Le Grand Journal we get a first look at the schedule and the stage set up. More doubts……no pit, huge catwalk, too similar to S&S (my lease favorite tour ever), when I read that Jamie King is producing the show I am certain this will be a repeat of Sticky. But let’s not jump ahead of things, the album still has to be released and I am still spoiler free apart from the six songs already released on iTunes.
We bought tickets to 13 shows when the tour kicks off in Montreal with a week delay (originally meant to start in Miami). After seeing the first three songs through social media, I am still not convinced we will be getting another MDNA, but the reviews are fantastic and the fans attending love it.
4 November 2015 Cologne
Heading to Cologne early with Kimberly and Dave. The first European show, will there be many changes compared to the show in the US? We arrive at our hotel around 9am, unfortunately our room isn’t ready yet. So we head to the city centre instead. We walked passed the Lanxess arena and it is cold, the first fans are already queuing for hours to get their early entry. After that, they get to queue again (respect for those who do, but I am getting too old for this).
We go to the centre to warm ourselves up and have some breakfast! We speculate a lot on how we will experience the show. In the afternoon we meet up with Fred and Alex at the station. We arrange to meet up again later that day, have dinner and go to the show together.
When we join the queue, it appears that everybody is still waiting outside including the ones with early entry wristbands. It is cold and windy, not too comfortable. Very slowly we get to go inside, thankfully we know that M won’t be on stage prior to 21.00. Once inside the support act starts (DJ Marymac) WHO? Exactly, never heard of her too and I truly couldn’t care less about her act. Really no one in the arena is paying attention to her, possibly due to her yelling constantly ‘Germanyyyyy put your hand up in the airrrrrr!!’. After repeating this over and over I was fed up with it.
We are at the left side main stage and personally I find the stage and catwalk to be big, VERY big. Madonna kept us waiting….for quite a while. It isn’t until 22.15 that the lights go out. Finally we get to see the show live in person. When Madonna exits her cage I notice that she isn’t looking her best and she seems to be in a hurry. I notice that after the first three songs I am still not getting into the flow of the show. Burning Up was just a case of staring at her back. Unfortunately there’s a lot going on at the front of the heart stage, didn’t they learn from Sticky? The show keeps on going and my back and neck really start to hurt, not even mentioning my feet. Sometimes there’s a highlight such as Deeper & Deeper, HeartbreakCity, Love Don’t Live Here Anymore, Music, Candy Shop, La vie En rose but I am just not getting it. With a truly horrible gypsy section butchering classics such as Dress You Up, Into the Groove and Lucky Star I am happy that when Holiday is over, I get to go home. Was this a Madonna show? What is going on?
Maybe the show needs to grow, but if I have to see this 12 times more I fear it will be a very long tour for me.
Back at the hotel and drinking some alcoholic appetisers, we try to sleep. Well indeed we tried, but didn’t succeed as our roommate is butchering the entire rain forest with his snoring, the drama! Kimmy deciding to spent the night in the bathroom, me trying to ignore the sound. Kimmy returns from the bathroom, the floor was too cold. Tried every way possible to wake him.
After a terrible night me and Kimmy try to stay awake during breakfast, knowing we are driving back to Amsterdam at the end of the day. We check out and carry our stuff back to the car. We then head back to the city centre, eat, drink and relax. We talk about the show once more and we hope to be amazed by M that evening. Later we meet up with Fred and Alex again at an Italian restaurant. Arriving back at the Lanxess arena we get to go in. Marymax is yelling again GERMANNYYYY!! The arena is really quite empty comparing to yesterday. We decide to stay at the heart stage.
When Madonna starts (quite late again) we see a lot more than yesterday and I am getting into the flow more. Madonna seems to be in a much better mood and smiles a lot more. She even takes out the terrible medley and plays an acoustic version of Like a Prayer, now I am losing and loving it. She ends it with a bit of ‘Fever’! Now THIS I love! We leave during Unapologetic Bitch to prevent getting stuck in traffic and arrive early as we all need to work the next morning. It is raining while we drive back to Amsterdam, but all goes smoothly and we arrive on time. I drop Dave and Kimmy off and I make my way back home.
Unfortunately all that is well is erased immediately when in a split second I hit another car. I can’t see anything in the car at all due to smoke, I am out of my car within seconds. Now I see that the car I hit has hit the lantern, she is stuck. Thankfully she is able to speak to me, she is yelling that she needs to leave the car as she sees smoke. I open her backdoor and within ten seconds she is standing next to me. Because of the shock I completely forgot how to use my phone and dial a number. I end up succeeding in placing the call and dial 112 (911). Things move quickly, I phone Kimberly and she immediately rushes over to come and support me. When the police and the ambulance arrive, I start to shake and burst into tears. After the paperwork and checking for alcohol (there is none) the ambulance is giving me a check up. Besides some stiffness I am okay, the lady isn’t that lucky and needs to be transported to the hospital. I have to wait for the company to pick up my car. Kimmy tells me that I need to call Peter and so I do, of course he is wide awake at once. When I am being taken to the company where my car is taken to, I need to wait for a taxi to take me home. It won’t be until 6 in the morning that I am finally in my bed.
My Rebel Heart Tour is my most expensive ever.
I do notice the day after that I am very sore and I am overwhelmed with emotions, not only that but how do we get to Berlin without my vehicle? Kimberly brings me the good news that we get to take Dirk’s car, so the tour will continue.
9 November Berlin
Early in the morning we drive to Berlin by car, however everything’s changed (I know I am not supposed to, but I keep on thinking what if I had been a split second sooner…..the tour would’ve definitely been over for me). The weather is okay on our way and we arrive in Berlin without any issues. Arriving at the hotel (East Berlin) we are amazed by the size of our hotel and how brilliant it is (maybe used to be a hospital?). In the evening we take a drink after dinner and decide to sleep early.
I have won Early Entry through ICON for this show, but if you think I am out there queuing in the wind and the rain than you are totally wrong. It isn’t until 3pm that we make our way to the arena to pick up the tickets. However the queue is huge at the box office, it is freezing and I am done with it. Once we get the tickets and the VIP book, we head back to our hotel. We eat our dinner in the hotel that evening and I eat a delicious pizza for very little money. In the Mercedes Benz arena Fred gets into an argument with security as they don’t allow his camera in. Literally everyone is out there photographing and videotaping and Fred’s tiny camera gets refused? typical. In the arena a nice vibe is going on and the support act is a million times better than Marymac. Idris Elba knows how to play the right tunes.
The arena is very crowded and when the lights go out, everyone is cheering and the atmosphere is just great. We recognize this too in a joyful Madonna, unfortunately even though the terrible medley is played again, I do notice I find it less horrific than in Cologne. Downside is the acoustic version of Secret (I think this is her worst song ever), apparently I am the only one as everyone is singing along.
When it ends (past 1am) we crawl underneath the covers.
The weather is still not cooperating when me and Kimmy go and visit a pharmacist as she isn’t feeling too well. When the medicines are bought, we check upon the newspapers, drink some coffee and relax. We eat in the hotel again and go to the arena even later than yesterday. Madonna did not start until 22.30 and I am getting fed up with it, is it so much to ask to put up a notice that the main act will start late? Thank God she skips the medley and performs an incredible acoustic version of Like a Prayer. Rita Ora is the Unapologetic Bitch and receives her reward in the form of a banana.
Another very short night, we want to be on the autobahn before traffic starts so we leave at 5am. Couldn’t be happier when I finally get to sleep some extra hours when I arrive at home.
28 November Antwerp
After seeing 4 shows with 9 more to go, I am pretty much done with the tour already. I loathe the traveling and I am just not feeling the show. But everything has been booked and it all has been paid for, so let’s try to make the best of it. Now we have experienced two terrible shows in Belgium before so we were quite sceptical. The weather is okay so maybe things will make a turn for the good.
The tour has changed most definitely along with the world after the terrorist attacks of November 13 in Paris. So many people died and so many got injured. Madonna is in Stockholm and considers to cancel the show, but makes an emotional speech that that is exactly what they want. That everyone lives in fear and stays indoors. We do expect longer queues when entering the arena’s.
When we arrive at the hotel (a simple plain room), we meet up with Dave and henk Jan for some lunch. The weather is chilly and once we’re a bit warmed up we go back to our hotel. We should be eating something before we go to the arena, but we just had lunch so we don’t really have an appetite. We do think we need to at least eat something small at 18.00, but we can’t find anything near that we like. We decide to eat at the arena and get on the tram to the Sportpaleis. During the trip Dave and Henk Jan join our tram. The food at the arena isn’t anything special and very expensive. We have a new support act tonight: Lunice. What can I say about this? What in the hell is this doing at a Madonna show? This isn’t music, but just downright noise. Who comes up with this crap? When it is finally over the floor gets more and more crowded, even so that we can’t really move. Madonna starts before 22.00 for a change, the vibe is excellent and absolute highlight is True Blue. Madonna is in a good mood and performs Don’t Tell Me this time.
After the show we spot Caroline for a second and Kimmy says she wants to go outside asap, she isn’t feeling well and everything is spinning. Halfway the arena she needs to hold on to something and can’t walk anymore, with the help of the first aid she is put in a wheelchair and driven to the emergency room. Dave, HJ and me walk with her and wait to see what will happen. After she’s been given a lot of sugar and everything has stopped spinning we take the subway back to the hotel. Once back in the room we have some potato chips left to eat, then we try to sleep. I do agree with Kimmy that if she still isn’t feeling well in the morning we won’t be driving to Mannheim. We already know the show will start late due to late equipment transportation.
Unfortunately our sleep is being disturbed by party people hanging in the hallway talking loudly to one another. The reception doesn’t want to do anything about it and Kimmy walks out into the hallway asking if they can please turn things down, of course they ignore and continue. Eventually the reception does what it’s supposed to do and tell them to take things into their rooms.
29 November Amsterdam
Another sleepless night resulting in us checking out at 7am. But there is no one at the reception desk, we have been waiting for a while and are just about to leave when finally the same man from the reception we spoke to last night comes up. He has the nerve to tell us that it were ‘people from our own country’ that were talking in the hallway. Excuse us? We didn’t sleep at all! Well yeah, than that is your problem. We have sworn never ever to return to Belgium again for a Madonna show. Mannheim will be skipped and we drive back to Amsterdam.
I was at home by 10 in the morning and enjoyed the hell out of catching the extra hours of sleep. I heard from Kimmy the next day that the show didn’t start until 23.00.
1 December London
I have been looking forward to London, it’s been five years ago since I was last there. For a very simple reason: this is a seating only show! When I meet up with Kimmy at the airport I can tell she is still not well. She tells me emotionally that if it was up to her she wouldn’t have come to London, she is coming along for me.
No issues during our flight (Kimmy hates flying) and we arrive at Heathrow Airport without any delays. Once in the hotel we get to check in and then we relax in the company of a box full of Krispy Kreme donuts!
We ate pizza around 4pm and then head to the boat that will be taking us to the O2. Once there we find out we cannot pick up our Friends & Family tickets until 6.30. When they are finally in our hands we find out that they’re front row heart stage, we are beyond excited! As it’s been a while since we ate pizza we decide on eating something else at TGI Friday’s. So relaxed to just walk into the arena and find your spot at the front row, without having to queue at all. We meet up with Guy and he asks us to attend his photoshoot, unfortunately due to our flight back to Holland we can’t make it.
To our distress there are fans again without front row tickets, but claiming the spot anyway and refusing to even leave.
M surprises us when the show starts at 9pm sharp. We experience the show very differently now and feel what it’s like to be a part of it. During Like a Virgin M shakes my hand and winks at me (how I love that woman). Then another little get together during Like A Prayer when she puts the mic in my face, when I sing along I am surprised the other people attending are still there when I finish. Graham Norton is the unapologetic bitch, very well deserved! This was the best show so far.
Our first mission is to buy newspapers but since they aren’t mentiong a whole lot on the show, we decide to drink some coffee and chill our way throughout the day. We take the boat to the O2 again at 16.00, we are wondering where our seats will be tonight. We are seated between the main stage and the cross, unfortunately Marymac is back (PUT YOURRR HANDS UP IN THEE AAAIIRRRRR LONDON!!) people don’t irritate me quickly but she does a hell of a job. The show starts again at 21.00 and notice that the crowd isn’t as good as yesterday. Big surprise comes when I go for a beer, Madonna is singing Drowned World in the acoustic section WOW!! I just froze while on the stairs, security asked me to keep on walking. This was a true highlight, Stella is tonight’s bitch.
5 december Amsterdam
Finally a show in my own country, I won’t be rushing as I have photo pass for tonight. Good to meet up with fellow friends again such as Amon who will be seeing the show for the first time tonight.
I pick up Dirk and Kimberly around 4 and then we drive to the Ziggo Dome. Kimberly is coughing still, such a deja-vu with MDNA in Amsterdam. We speak to Dave shortly who has spent the night at the Ziggo Dome, we also chat to Sharon and Neil. We try to get in as quickly as possible because of the terrible weather outside. After drinking something and the clock hitting 19.00 Dirk and Kimberly join the queue. I line up at the press entrance and I’m allowed to go in.
While waiting inside for what was to come, some fellow photographers join me. Russian people are being escorted in, apparently they were removed from the arena they don’t have any tickets apart from a press pass for the soccer competition at the Amsterdam ArenA, nor an ID. With all the extra security and all I truly don’t understand how people like this can just enter without a ticket?
We are asked to wait out in the hallway until the police arrive, I am talking to fellow photographer William Rutten who recognized me from the site and previous tour. It takes quite a while before we are entering the arena, I already warned them that it wouldn’t be before ten that she would be on stage. A total of 12 photographers gather on a small set up stage to take our pictures in the back of the Ziggo Dome near the sound desk. My view is pretty good and when Madonna starts her show at 22.00 I notice that my lense is giving me issues. I try to fix it and I take the rest of my shots of the first three songs.
After we are asked to leave (after Burning Up) I put away my camera and walk back into the arena. I join Peter, Lia and Karen to see the rest of the show from the back of the Ziggo Dome. Afterwards I take Dirk, Kimmy, Fred and Alex back home.
Show number two in Amsterdam, I am quite impressed after checking to see if my press photographs turned out okay in Amsterdam. Tonight I will attend the show with Evelien, Peter and my mother in law (the latter have seated tickets). We drive to the Ziggo around 5, it is still raining and freezing. I have Kimmy and Dirk’s tickets with me so we have to meet up so they can get them. Kimmy is really ill and without a voice, but still we keep going. When we enter the support act Lunice has started (everyone I spoke to thinks it’s absolute garbage).
Madonna is fairly on time and enters the stage a little before 22.00. Evelien and me are in the back at the heart stage, but very tall people are obstructing our view. Right before True Blue M admits to have dated a Dutch guy (even without mentioning a name, we know who she’s referring to). M finds it necessary to ask us if it really bothers us that she’s on stage so late, she does want us to catch our last train and will try to keep the show as short as possible (wow such a great sense of humor, and I am not being sarcastic at all). We leave during Unapologetic Bitch.
9 December Paris
We leave for Paris on time with an even sicker Kimmy, I am starting to feel unwell too. We arrive around 1pm at Gare Du Nord, after the terrorist attacks we expect heavy security but we are in shock when we get to depart the train without any checks. We go to the hotel by taxi, after checking in we went to explore Bercy where a lot of people were queuing already. Didn’t eat yet so we have some lunch at Subway. In the evening we meet up with Fred and have dinner together. No extra security in Bercy too when we arrive around 21.00. In Bercy Lunice is still producing noise, meaning that M will be late.
We decide to stay at the sounddesk and have a very good view. The show was going to be a special one and by getting son David on stage to sing a Bob Marley song, I have to admit I got goosebumps. After the show we take a picture with Jean Paul Gaultier and walk back to our hotel. Here we read that M has a ‘spontaneous’ intimate gig at the Place de la Republique, well now how’s that? Before we arrive by cab, M will be long gone….we decide to not take the risk and stay at the hotel. If we would’ve known sooner, we would’ve been there no doubt.
Our health isn’t improving and after a night filled with coughing, we both feel like we really want to go home. The breakfast in the hotel was okay but the service completely worthless as we didn’t speak French, we didn’t get service. When it comes to the manners of hotel staff I am shocked this time around, on how bad they are. Kimmy will be staying in the room and I will go for a walk. Upon returning we spend the entire day in bed . When we go to Bercy around 21.00 we stay in the back again, it appears to be more crowded than yesterday. Because of no sleep and the coughing I feel a little lost. Kimmy remains in the back while I shoot some pictures, I fall apart during Rebel Heart so we leave after that song.
We go back home, while in the taxi Kimmy discovers that money is missing from her wallet. We try and recollect where it could’ve happened, probably during breakfast. This completes our failed Paris trip. Once in the train the trip goes well. When at home I go to bed and fall asleep.
19 December Glasgow
Every tour we try to visit places we’ve never been before. Glasgow is one of them, I was really looking forward to this because as with London it is an all seated show. Thankfully we both feel a bit better and we leave for Glasgow pretty early. Flight goes well, but due to heavy wind in Glasgow we cannot land as expected resulting in taking off again right before we were about to land. Believe me when I say that Kimmy almost lost it for a minute. She hates to fly and things like this don’t make it better, saying things such as ‘why aren’t they saying anything, have we been hijacked?’. After a few minutes we do finally land and we are safe on the ground. We take the bus to the city centre and find our hotel. The hotel was like a haunted house, great staff, beautiful room. In the afternoon we eat at TGI Friday’s.
Showtime, it rained all day while walking around exploring the city. We eat around 18.00 and then make our way to the SSE Hydro, it was quite a walk. When we arrive we have to walk around the entire arena for the Family & Friends window, which appeared to be the general window for pick up. It took a while before it was our turn to get the tickets.
When we are in the arena and are taken to our seats, we are shocked to see that our seats are front row cross stage. Super relaxed! Very good security around telling people to go who shouldn’t be there in the front. The show starts around 9.30 and M is having fun, it is the last European show. Holy Water and Like a Virgin are performed in just a few inches from our faces, WOW!! this is so cool. During Like a Virgin she smiles beautifully at me. Me so happy!
When Unapologetic Bitch ends we wait for the Holiday encore, but the lights are turned on and it seems that the show is over. No! There she is with a santa hat on, but the sounds are off and she is still performing the last song. We are the ones singing now. Due to the curfew the show has to end at 23.00 otherwise they just pull the plug, like they did here.
Causing an hilarious ending to a fab show!
We are at the airport waiting to fly back home, here I see a few crew members walking around. The flight goes well, we do make a turbulent landing and land one hour later on Schiphol, the Rebel Heart is over for us.
Every Madonna tour is a happening, but due to some factors in the show I think that this is a better version of Sticky. Too many repeats such as the gypsy section, leading to the butchering of classics such as Dress You Up and Lucky Star. For all who would see this for a very first time, I am sure it will be a party. I think I am a little spoiled, I describe it as being a fan of Madonna with balls, and that is what I missed this tour. No surprises, no controversy and so many repeats of former tours. I tend to have a different opinion from everyone else, as the press seems to think it is her best show to date.
There were some highlights this tour, the shows in London, Berlin and Glasgow were amazing! I have also come to the conclusion that queuing up is just not my thing anymore, and I prefer all seated shows. The other thing was that bad luck was following us around: car accident, illness, cold weather, the endless waiting for M.
Hopefully the next tour will shine with magic, expression and balls!