Madonna kicks off Celebration Tour: It is so good to be back London

Madonna launched her tour in London (Aurore Marechal/PA)
Madonna launched her tour in London (Aurore Marechal/PA)

Madonna has said “it is so good to be back London” as she kicked off her Celebration tour in spectacular fashion – with a brief technical issue not able to hold her back.

The superstar took to the stage at The O2 on Saturday night donning an elaborate black gown and silver headpiece before unveiling a punk rocker-style outfit.

She launched into the show with a powerful rendition of her 1998 hit Nothing Really Matters before moving through hits from her back catalogue including Into The Groove.

Speaking to the thousands in the crowd, she asked them: “Am I imagining this? Oh my God, it is so good to be back London.”

She added: “I’m pretty damned surprised that I made it this far and I mean that on so many levels… How did I make it this far? Because of you. I’m going to take a bit of credit too.”

The singer explained she was going to “tell the story of my life but I’m going to do it through music and dance”.

She recalled how she arrived in New York with 25 dollars and did not have the support of her father as he wanted her to come back, but she said despite being “scared” she refused to return as she screamed she’s “not a quitter”.

Madonna has returned to the stage (Yui Mok/PA)

After performing her hit Burning Up, Madonna had to stop the show briefly as she explained there was a problem with the sound and they had to “press the reset button”.

The singer, who revealed her children were in the audience, said: “This is exactly what you don’t want to happen on your opening night, so this wasn’t planned, I’m sorry.”

To fill the time, the pop superstar recalled how difficult things were when she was in her first band when she was “broke and hungry and making zero cash” – but she could “see the future”.

She confessed she would “date men who had showers and bath tubs” as she had no way to wash at the time, recalling asking men she thought were “cute” if they lived alone and had a shower before asking them to get dinner.

After the tech issues were resolved, Madonna made up for the wait by launching into lively versions of Open Your Heart and Holiday.

The energy moved to a darker place for her Like A Prayer as a group of shirtless dancers hung off a rotating structure in the centre of the stage while the singer wore a black robe during her performance.

The tour – set to cover Madonna’s greatest hits over her more than four decade-strong career – is billed as a “one-of-a-kind experience”.

Saturday night’s show at The O2 marks the first official tour date after the original start in Canada had to be postponed due to the singer falling ill.

She will perform four sold-out dates in London before moving on to her European and North American legs.

Madonna has had dozens of hits over four decades (Ian West/PA)

Special guest, RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Bob The Drag Queen, wearing an elaborate period costume, welcomed the pop star to the stage.

In June, Madonna postponed the original start date of her latest tour in Canada after her talent manager Guy Oseary announced that a “serious bacterial infection” led to the music artist having a several-day stay in intensive care.

Madonna – the most successful female artist in UK chart history with 13 chart-toppers – has an impressive back catalogue which includes her early successes 1985’s Into The Groove and 1986’s Papa Don’t Preach along with her latest hits 2008’s 4 Minutes featuring Justin Timberlake and 2006’s Sorry.

She has also had more number two peaks – such as 2003’s American Life and 1999’s Beautiful Stranger – on the British charts than any other artist, with 12 according to Official Charts Company.

This is Madonna’s first tour since her Madame X shows, which ended in 2020.

Some of these performances were called off due to knee and hip injuries.