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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 May, 2004, 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK
Madonna mixes messages with show
Peter Bowes
By Peter Bowes
BBC correspondent in Los Angeles

Madonna, Los Angeles, 24 May 2004
Some fans did not welcome her anti-war views
Madonna has launched her world tour in Los Angeles with a politically-charged and highly energetic show.

A capacity crowd turned out to see the pop icon take to the stage at The Forum in the LA suburb of Inglewood.

Looking more toned than ever, the 45-year old performer belted out a string of her greatest hits including Into the Groove, Holiday, Vogue and Material Girl.

Like A Prayer was a given a gospel treatment while Papa Don't Preach was reinvented with a Scottish lilt - complete with bagpipes and Madonna decked out in a swirling plaid kilt.

"It was fun, I loved it, it was awesome," said Oro Cro, a Madonna fan who travelled to LA from Mexico for the concert. "I love Madonna, anywhere she goes, I'll go."

"She's in great shape, it was a great concert," added Kira Carstensen, from Los Angeles.

Re-invention

Madonna has toned down her sexually provocative performances of previous tours. There were no conical bra outfits or overt expressions of sexuality.

In fact, much to the disappointment of many fans she did not perform one of the best-known songs, Like a Virgin.

Madonna has attempted to reinvent herself into a sober, thoughtful singer who takes time out during the frantic performance to strum a guitar and act all grown up.

"We are so disappointed - what happened to the cool energetic Madonna?' asked Meda Namdar, a fan from Orange County in California.

Madonna, Los Angeles, 24 May 2004
The singer did not perform one of her most famous tracks, Like a Virgin

"I mean come on dude, get out there, start dancing," she urged Madonna.

Politically, the concert hit a number of raw nerves with the audience. Madonna's use of video images of war - bombs being dropped and injured children - distracted the eye from the singer's own performance.

The powerful footage dominated long sections of the show - including during Madonna's cover of John Lennon's Imagine. When Lennon's photo was flashed on the screen, the audience erupted.

At times the political imagery prompted the audience to the raise the roof, but afterwards many expressed doubts and disappointment about the anti-war message.

"Nobody cares about her political views," said Ms Namdar.

"Who is Madonna to be offering her political views - she's just an entertainer. It's like the Pope starting a rock band."

'Not the arena'

Other audience members said they felt the political theme was inappropriate for the times.

"There are political leaders that make political decisions and there are entertainers that should entertain," said Vahid Berdjis, a physician originally from Iran who now works and lives in LA.

"I can understand that both can be intermixed and intertwined but this is not the arena," he explained.

"Especially in the state of emergency that this world is in where for just for one time we wanted to get out and have a good time and clear our minds."

Madonna
Madonna's Re-Invention tour arrives in the UK in August

"She's going into a different era with her music - she's trying to become very political and she's trying to appeal to the gentle side of people," suggested another fan - James McKowen from Liverpool, now living in LA.

Others took the evening less seriously. In the car park after the event, one fan was boasting that he had managed to catch a sweaty T-shirt discarded into the crowd by Madonna.

"We'll be on eBay tomorrow, look for us,' he screamed at fellow fans.


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