Madonna wows 1.6m fans at Rio concert, Latest Music News - The New Paper

Madonna wows 1.6m fans at Rio concert

RIO DE JANEIRO – Pop idol Madonna gave it all in Rio de Janeiro as she looked back on her four-decade career in a historic show before throngs of joyful fans jammed onto Brazil’s famed Copacabana beach on May 4.

The 65-year-old singer walked down an elevated bridge from the Copacabana Palace hotel to a massive stage for one of the most important shows of her career.

Dressed all in black, Madonna broke into her hit Nothing Really Matters (1998) at the start with a burst of brute energy.

“Rio, here we are in the most beautiful place in the world,” she said at the start of a performance that brought the giddy Brazilian audience to its feet.

The show marked the final stop on her Celebration Tour noting her 40 years atop the pop charts, in a free event that drew an estimated 1.6 million people from across Brazil, according to the city tourism office.

Billed as a “historic” show, it blended music and dance with cabaret.

Madonna showcased her versatility with dozens of set and costume changes, spectacular lights and many giant screens along the beach.

She went from being dressed as a schoolgirl in a miniskirt to an irreverent Christian in a black cape while luminous crosses circled around her during Like A Prayer (1989), a song that cost her excommunication from the Catholic Church.

Madonna was joined on stage during the performance of her hit Vogue (1990) by Brazilian singer Anitta, who is known for taking Carioca funk – the soundtrack of Rio’s favelas – to the rest of the world.

With Live To Tell (1986), she paid tribute to Aids victims, including British singer Freddie Mercury and the legendary Brazilian musician Cazuza.

US electronic dance music master DJ Diplo opened the show as thousands jostled to get a view of the stage. Boats bobbed in the water offshore, letting those onboard enjoy the show.

“I’m a mess, I haven’t slept well, I’ve been listening to Madonna all week,” 29-year-old sociologist Ina Odara told AFP. Tattooed on her shoulder was Madonna’s phrase: “All that you ever learned, try to forget.”

Police patrolled almost every corner to minimise the usual mass robberies.

After 80 performances across Europe and North America, the Rio concert provided a crowning touch to a tour that took on sudden urgency when the singer suffered a life-threatening bacterial infection in June 2023.

Madonna has released an album every two or three years since the 1984 release of Like A Virgin.

Her shows, with their spectacular productions, set a high bar. But the ever-provocative Madonna has also provided unforgettable moments, such as when she kissed Britney Spears at 2003’s MTV Music Video Awards.

Madonna’s concert should provide an economic boost to Rio. State and city governments said they spent 20 million reais (S$5.3 million) on the concert, while the rest was financed by private sponsors.

The authorities expected it would pump a far larger sum – 293 million reais – into the local economy.

On every corner in the Copacabana neighbourhood were billboards, souvenirs or T-shirts bearing images of Madonna or of the conical corset designed by Jean Paul Gaultier and made famous by the diva.

Hundreds of her fans swarmed outside the Copacabana Palace since her arrival on April 29.

The excitement spiked on May 2 night when Madonna unexpectedly appeared for a sound check, her face almost completely hidden behind a colourful balaclava.

That scene was repeated on May 3.

“Oi, Rio!” she called out in Portuguese to fans.

The response on May 4 night from more than a million voices: “Oi, Queen Madonna!” – AFP