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Last Updated: Monday, 24 May, 2004, 07:38 GMT 08:38 UK
Show-stealer Madonna on tour
By Neil Smith
BBC News Online

Madonna's Re-Invention tour arrives in the UK in August
Pop superstar Madonna kicks off her Re-Invention world tour in Los Angeles on Monday.

She will be playing more than 20 dates in the US and Canada during May, June and July, eight in the UK and Ireland during August - one in Manchester, one in Dublin and six in London - plus four in Paris in September.

Tickets are not cheap - ranging from 50-150 for a seat at one of her six London concerts. But despite the hefty price tag, the shows sold out shortly after they were announced.

Fans will no doubt be expecting the same combination of theatricality, audacity and controversy that made the Queen of Pop's previous world tours so famous.

BBC News Online looks back at these now legendary concerts.

Who's That Girl (1987)

Madonna on stage in 1987
Madonna wore the costume from her Open Your Heart video

Madonna's first world tour - which began in July 1987 in Japan and finished in Italy in September - marked her first large-scale concert appearances in the UK.

Tickets for her first two dates at Wembley Stadium sold out in 18 hours and led to a third concert being arranged.

Britain was gripped by Madonna fever. Fans mobbed her at the airport, while a jog in the park ended with a bodyguard assaulting a photographer.

More than 70,000 people attended the first concert, which led to five people being taken to hospital and the singer appealing for calm.

The show began with Madonna clad in the gold-nippled, black velvet corset she wore in her raunchy Open Your Heart video.

Subsequent outfits included a crimson flamenco dress and a luridly kitsch gown topped off with some horn-rimmed, Dame Edna Everage-style glasses.

Blond Ambition (1990)

Immortalised in the documentary film In Bed With Madonna, this is the concert that everyone remembers.

This, after all, was the tour that introduced Jean-Paul Gaultier's infamous conical bra outfit and featured the singer simulating masturbation during Like a Virgin.

Madonna's Blond Ambition tour
Madonna's conical bra outfit was designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier
Officials in Toronto threatened to arrest her unless she removed this sequence, and in Italy the Pope called for a boycott.

In London, meanwhile, her use of expletives during a live BBC Radio One broadcast from Wembley Stadium provoked a storm of protest.

The moralistic British press had a field day, though most reviewers grudgingly acknowledged the singer's professionalism and charisma.

"Madonna effortlessly discharges enough light, sound, fury and energy to power the whole of Wembley," wrote Anthony Thorncroft in the Financial Times.

The Girlie Show (1993)

Madonna chose London as the starting point for her 1993 tour, her most explicit and controversial to date.

Coming off the back of her Erotica album, her critically-panned film Body of Evidence and her infamous 'Sex' book of photographs, The Girlie Show showed the singer at her most confrontational.

Madonna's Girlie Show tour
Madonna began her Girlie Show tour at London's Wembley Stadium
Madonna opened the show dressed as a whip-cracking dominatrix, surrounded by topless dancers of both sexes.

But there were lighter moments too - singing Like a Virgin in the guise of Marlene Dietrich, for example, or donning an Afro wig for Express Yourself.

Controversy followed the pop star around the globe. She caused uproar in Puerto Rico by rubbing the island's flag between her legs on stage, while Orthodox Jews protested against her first ever show in Israel.

The critics were predictably sniffy. "It's tough to stay on top by spanking somebody's bottom," wrote Time magazine's Richard Corliss.

Drowned World (2001)

After a hiatus of eight years - during which time she made the musical Evita, had two children and married film director Guy Ritchie - Madonna returned to the UK with a bang.

Her six nights at London's Earls Court sold out on the first day seats went on sale, with 85 tickets changing hands for up to 600.

Madonna's Drowned World tour
Madonna played guitar and sported a tartan kilt on stage
Madonna's many costumes included a punkish tartan kilt and a geisha's gown in a concert that saw her fly through the air on wires and ride a mechanical bull.

She also revealed a hitherto undisclosed talent for the guitar and dedicated one song to her new husband.

Some critics complained that the show concentrated on material from her most recent albums, but generally the response was favourable.

"With its perfect dance routines, special effects and hint of bullish arrogance, the Drowned World show befits the world's most famous woman," wrote Alex Patridis in The Guardian.


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