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Wednesday, 4 July, 2001, 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK
Madonna's dedicated fans
Madonna fans
Dedicated Madonna fans are prepared to queue
The BBC's John Hand gets an early Madonna fix

Madonna's opening night at Earl's Court is an exciting event but among the thousands of fans will be a hardcore who will have seen it all before.

I'm a stalwart Madonna fan and flew to Berlin two weeks ago to see the show early and found I was not the only one.

After eight years, what's another four hours? That was the only logic I could apply.

I'd flown to Berlin for the first time in my life and here I was foregoing the delights of visiting the Brandenburg Gate or buying a piece of concrete supposedly from that famously absent wall.

Madonna is playing six nights at Earls Court

Instead I was sitting in a queue on an uncomfortable concrete pavement outside a glorified German sports hall.

Hadn't I already done this queuing bit for nine long hours outside Earls Court back in April, to get tickets for Madonna's London show?


Yes, but that is only one night of a long tour and as every fan will tell you, half the fun of watching your favourite star on tour is to put in a little bit of mileage yourself.

And besides this queue wasn't just for a ticket - it had the prize of a front row spot (or near enough) when those opening bars of Drowned World / Substitute For Love struck up.

But even giving up four hours of valuable sightseeing time was not enough to get me right up close and personal.

Madonna fan
Queuing through the night is the best way to get a good seat

Not when I was up against dedicated globetrotters like fanatic Finns Sointu and Hanna who had camped out for the previous three nights just to guarantee the best possible view for the show.

They later had their moment of fame when they emerged from the concert and gave their emotional post-show reaction to waiting German TV crews, rounding it off with an inevitable plea for tickets for other shows on the tour.

It's becoming increasingly common for Madonna fans to achieve mini-celebrity status themselves.

Also there somewhere in the Berlin mayhem was Gareth Young, webmaster of fansite Where Life Begins who famously drove all the way from Amsterdam to Cologne just to queue for tickets for a show that was subsequently cancelled.


That setback hasn't stopped him following the show to Barcelona, Milan and Berlin and chronicling the details on his site.

And how long before someone tells the story of Allegra and his group of six Italian fans who can claim a 100% attendance record on the tour, despite being robbed of some of their belongings while attending the opening weekend in Spain.

Kylie and Dolce and Gabbana
A host of stars attended Brixton gig, including Kylie and designers Dolce and Gabbana
Back in England as the days drew closer to her Earls Court show, the memory of classic Saturday morning TV show Swap Shop has been revived among fans.

Because the original Earls Court ticket sale limited fans to buying seats for one night, a frenzied exchange of tickets has ensued, primarily on the internet, as fans aim to ensure they are present and correct on all six nights of the run.

After a spot of "got, got, need" that echoed my days of swapping football stickers in the playground, I am now seeing the Queen of Pop play Earls Court a grand total of four times.

The big difference is that I couldn't have sold my spare Terry McDermott stickers (complete with tragic late 70s perm) for four figures.

And there are plenty of fans prepared to pay that big.

Front row

Helen Mylchreest, who got in touch during one swapping session, admitted paying 1,200 to secure one pair of front-row tickets.

A lot of money considering she is a student who is working extra shifts at her local supermarket in a bid to minimise the resulting dent on her credit card.

She summed up the feelings of many fans awaiting the Earls Court shows when she said: "They cost so much but I had to get them.

"I do think 'Hell' when I think about how much money it's costing me. But I also think I've got my whole life to pay it off."

See also:

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