Madonna urges fans to unite in ‘light and love’ as tour opens in London

Madonna’s Celebration Tour kicked off in London (PA)
Madonna’s Celebration Tour kicked off in London (PA)

Madonna urged her fans to unite in “light and love” to help bring peace to the Middle East and the world during the opening night of her Celebration Tour.

After overcoming a brief technical issue which paused the show, the US superstar delivered a spectacle for the ages at The O2 in London on Saturday, treating thousands of adoring fans to an array of classic songs from her four-decade career, a host of extravagant outfits and a variety of theatrical stage set-ups.

The Queen of Pop also ensured the first show of her new tour would be a family affair as a number of her six children took to the stage throughout the nearly two-and-a-half-hour performance.

For her first looks of the night, the 65-year-old donned an elaborate black gown and silver headpiece before unveiling a punk rocker-style outfit and what appeared to be a knee support on her left leg.

After opening with powerful renditions of Nothing Really Matters and Into The Groove, she asked the crowd: “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”.

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 apologised for the delay and admitted “this is exactly what you don’t want to happen on your opening night” but kept the crowd entertained by recalling anecdotes from her days in her first band when she was “broke and hungry and making zero cash”, confessing she would “date men who had showers and bathtubs” as she had no way to wash at the time.

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

The energy moved to a darker, more ritualistic place for her performance of 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.

She later paused the show to speak about her “heartbreak” over the suffering in Israel and Palestine.

After singing her song Little Star in honour of her daughter Lourdes celebrating her 27th birthday on Saturday, she said: “We all come from love and its important to know that right now because there’s a lot of really crazy things happening in the world that are so painful to witness.

“All of us are suffering watching what’s happening in Israel and Palestine. It breaks my heart to see children suffering, teenagers suffering, elderly people suffering. All of it is heart-breaking.”

Addressing the thousands of adoring fans in the crowd, she continued: “Even though our hearts are broken, our spirits cannot be broken…

“We are altogether very powerful people, we can unite in the dark and evil or we can unite in a place of light and love.

“And if we all had that collective conscious, we could change the world and we can bring peace – not only to the Middle East but all over the world.”

The show also featured a sensual rendition of her 2005 anthem Hung Up which saw her perform in a red slip dress alongside a host of topless dancers.

The singer later cranked the energy back up for her 1900 hit Vogue, with her younger daughter Estere and eldest daughter Lourdes making a surprise appearance on stage.

The rendition paid homage to the New York ballroom culture which the song was inspired by as the dancers performed in extravagant outfits for Madonna and Lourdes while they graded them 10s across the board.

Her daughter Estere, donning a gold jumpsuit, also showed off her dance moves for her mother and older sister.

The singer’s daughter Mercy James took to the stage to play the piano while her mother belted out her track Bad Girl.

The superstar praised her children for supporting her while she was ill earlier this year with a “serious bacterial infection” which saw her admitted to intensive care for several days and forced her to postpone the tour, which had been due to begin in Canada in July.

The singer said: “It was a crazy year for me as well and I didn’t think I was going to make it, neither did my doctors…

“I forgot five days of my life, or my death, I don’t really know where I was. But the angels were protecting me and my children were there, and my children always save me every time.”

She added that her secret to surviving is thinking “I’ve got to be there for my children” before she struck up the chords to I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor.

A photograph of the late Sinead O’Connor was later shown on the large screens and Madonna draped a Ukraine flag over her back before launching into Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.

She ended the song by encouraging the crowd to chant “no fear”.

The superstar closed out the show with a walk down memory lane as dancers donned a number of her classic outfits, including her Like A Virgin bridal dress look, while she sang her 2015 track B**** I’m Madonna and a medley of her tracks Celebration and Music.

Madonna will perform three more sold-out dates in London before moving on to her European and North American legs.

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.