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Wednesday, 4 July, 2001, 23:10 GMT 00:10 UK
Madonna is still queen of pop
Madonna
Madonna: The show was immaculately staged
By BBC News Online's Alfred Hermida

Drawing together punk, country, flamenco and dance influences, Madonna wowed fans on the first of six sell-out dates of her Drowned World tour at London's Earl's Court.

To thundering cheers, the stage lit up with a bank of blue TV screens to reveal a strident Madonna in a tartan kilt.

For the next two hours, she mesmerised avid fans who had waited eight years to see her performing in Britain again.

The low-key opening track, Drowned World, gave way to a gutsy version of the normally mellow Candy Perfumed Girl.

Madonna
The star took on several personas during the show
Madonna turned punk girl, thrashing an electric guitar and driving her backing band on to create a wall of sound.

And so began an immaculately staged production, which saw Madonna take the crowd on a journey through her many worlds.

For Frozen, she appeared in the middle of the stage in a dramatic black Geisha outfit, with 26-foot long sleeves.

As her dancers darted around her, Madonna's sleeves formed black waves that billowed across the stage.

For Sky Fits Heaven, she transformed herself into a ninja. To the track's pulsating beat, Madonna flew across the stage.

Madonna in dry ice
Madonna's guises include a kilt and bondage pants
Hanging by a trapeze wire, she battled her dancers in a scene that could have come straight out of the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Taking on another persona, Madonna later emerged in a stunning black backless dress to sing a Spanish version of What it Feels like for a Girl.

To continue the Latin theme, Madonna dug out one of the few early hits she played during the gig. With La Isla Bonita, the stage was transformed into a flamenco show.

The elaborate dance routines were matched by more intimate moments. Appearing in a corner of the stage, under a solitary light, Madonna delighted fans with an acoustic version of I Deserve It.

'Cool'

"I've waited a long time for this," she told the audience, dedicating the song to her husband Guy Ritchie in the town he was born. "And I mean every word of it."

Her affection for Britain was clear. "It's good to be here," she told an ecstatic crowd.

Ending the show in her ghetto girl outfit, this 42-year-old mother-of-two was the epitome of cool.

As the first bars of the classic, Holiday, echoed through the hall, a huge cheer went up and 16,000 fans rose to their feet.

Ending the show with Music, a huge video screen behind her displayed the many incarnations of Madonna down the years.

Judging by this elaborate spectacle, the world's most famous woman is at her peak. The long-reigning queen of pop isn't about to lose her crown.

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