Madonna in London: My Madame X journey
There are concerts I go to, and then there is... well, Madonna. The chances are high that if you have had a conversation longer than a few minutes with me in the past 2 decades, you know that Madonna is my God. She is the only one queen who cannot be even remotely compared to any of today's stan-twitter faves, the one who paved the road for us all, and I would literally kiss the ground she walks on. She is God and Madonnism is my religion.
Obviously, there is absolutely no way I would miss a tour. Like, ever.
Last spring, when a new album, Madame X, was released and I first heard she was going to hit theaters, I (not to be dramatic) thought my life was over,... Most people would appreciate the change to seating tickets, meaning no queuing and an intimate experience - I mean, it had been so long since shows like that! However, I am not one of those people. I breathe for the moments right before a show starts, when lights go down, your heart stops beating for a milli-second, the first tones of her intro begin.... and 50 thousands people standing behind you at an open-air stadium start screaming with pure excitement. Love love love.... and the feeling after, when you are all sweaty and absolutely disgusting, thirsty, can't speak, can't walk, can't coordinate your whole body, but feel so damn HAPPY. I am aware some of you consider me mental, I mean for Christ's sake, why not just purchase a seated ticket, see the concert and go on about your business, right?... Well, the thing is, if you spend 24+ hours in the queue, your tour experience is 24 hours longer. I don't think it can be explained, but from my perspective, waiting for Madonna is the second best thing to seeing Madonna.
Even more of my new-tour-announcement joy was knocked off when I saw the prices. About 12 hundred for a front row VIP package, 500 pounds on average... and little did I know it was only going to go downhill...
Madonna's team are no rookies: they allowed only "ICON (fanclub) Legacy" members to access first pre-sale codes, and I did not qualify. I managed to get into a second wave and as always, ticketmaster broke down and I ended up with pretty bad tickets in the Royal Circle (first balcony).
Luckily, after another show was added, I scored one of a few cheap tickets (140 pounds), and a few months later, discounted front row (FRONT ROW!!!) tickets went on sale and I bought another one. This made me extremely happy but also pretty mad, because these tickets were almost the same price as the Royal circle ones I had purchased during the pre-sale. I mean, where is the logic in that? And so my phone call journey to argue myself into better seats started... as it turns out, there is a thing called "fan protection" on Ticketmaster, which basically means that if you find better seats closer to the event, you are able to upgrade. Sounds amazing, but reality is somewhere else - it takes them days to approve your request and most of the time, the good tickets you wanted are long gone. However, I did manage to get an upgrade to 3rd row.
Knowing I would be up close after all, my original disappointment was replaced with excitement for something new, especially after the tour kicked off in America and Madonna prohibited phone use at the shows. There would be no videos apart from the ones she would post on her own socials, which means no spoilers. As I have never been to an opening show and therefore always gave in and checked YouTube upfront, this was an absolute dream.
Rewievs from the media were mixed up, but they were not to be taken seriously by a Madonnist. What the die-hard fans were saying was of importance to me, and luckily, most of them seemed to love it - best tour ever since the Blond Ambition, according to some. Of course, there were also all those little dramas circulating around as well - so called fans suing Madonna for being late (which is laughable - if you are an actual fan, you just know you won't make it to your last train), And there were those show cancellations, too...
Months were flying by, and suddenly Madonna was starting her European part of the tour in Lisbon. And she was cancelling more and more shows due to her knee injury. When she posted a video of herself walking with a cane, even I could not have denied it anymore... The chances of London actually happening were low.
Ironically, when queuing for my first Madonna show ever, Sticky and Sweet, my 14 year old self laughed hysterically when someone about the same age as me joked around saying Madonna was so old, she needed a cane to get off her throne at the beginning of Candy Shop, Little did I know that karma was gonna get me back - lol. Anyway, I could not get mad at her if she cancelled on me, but I was really stressed by not knowing, and blamed her a little for putting me through weeks of overthinking rather than just cancelling.
Madonna is no quitter and I should have known.
I will go until I can't.
She said in a statement right after cancelling the first London show, giving her a week to rest, and then a few more in between to allow some time in between gigs. She did it in advance, so my nightmare of standing in front of the Palladium in an outfit picked especially for the occasion and full make up on, finding out she cancelled last minute, was most likely not happening. Hallelujah. A different type of nightmare came true,..
A few days before my show, my phone beeped. Ticketmaster. Important changes have been made with your booking, check your online account. My heart stopped for a second because such message is never good, and I was right. My 3rd row ticket had been UPGRADED to 6th row. Later that day I received another text, this time from my friend who booked my front row ticket, notifying me that that one had been moved to 6th row, too.
This time, life really WAS over. Ticketmaster's life... And so another phone call journey started... My original temper cooled down while holding on for 20 minutes and so I went with the I-am-mad-but-nice-please-help-me tactic. Long story short, they had the regional manager call me (on a Sunday!) and he offered me to swap my now 6th row tickets for any other free seat in the house. I picked Box BB.
The 30th of January, THE day. I asked the time off work but of course, I ended up having an important meeting that needed all my focus and energy at my other job. Oh boy, I had no clue what to do with myself. All I wanted to do ever since I woke up was to start getting ready. By 5pm, my hair was puffed to the maximum, my make up was on point and sprayed and fixed about 10 times, my trash bag trousers' pockets were sewed in together from the inside to make them look like my actual size instead of a Large that they were... I was set to go. Way too early, of course. You see, I am never on time, unless it is for a concert, then I am very early :)
What followed was hours of total freak-outs. Luckily, I wasn't the only one. My friend, whom I met in front of the Palladium was just the same as me (and any other fan going that night) and so we took some selfies, walked in and dived deep into the Madonna fan social circle by the bar.
A few beers later, Palladium's staff announced we should be in our seats in 5, I split from the others and went to my in-advance-hated row F chair. Guess what... the layout was a bit different, rows A to E had gaps in them and I ended up with only two actual rows in front of me and stairs from the stage RIGHT next to me. THANK YOU, MY KARMA.
Not being able to be on my phone, I started chatting to fans around me instead. None of us had a watch and therefore we had absolutely no clue what time it was nor how late Madonna got that night.
The lights are down.
WELCOME TO MY MADAME X JOURNEY.
OMG. O M G.
What are you looking attt...
And there she is. OMG. WAIT. That is not her. Wait what... These are all dancers. Which one is she??? I actually do not know AND I LOVE NOT KNOWING. There she is. OMG.
COME ON VOGUE LET YOUR BODY MOVE TO THE MUSIC AHHHH
Where has she gone??? OMG she is in the stairs!!! Ahhh that cheeky smile... jesus christ she is SO CLOSE and so pretty.
I had absolutely no idea what she was going to next, and so every little move and each song was going to be a surprise.
After the second song, Finally enough love, she started with her little speeches and jokes that felt so natural and not forced,, I was just standing there thinking she can have my entire soul if she wants to, and then she did something that sent me to a universe even further...
She took a polaroid selfie and auctioned it to the audience. Now, of course, I was aware of this part of the show from her Instagram, but what I was not expecting was her taking a second selfie by accident and selling it to a girl for very cheap.
"How much you got?"
"I only have 200 pounds but i want to give it to you anyway, for Raising Malawi."
"Aww... You will make me cry. Just because you are so cute and nice... I will take your money" Madge said and slipped her the second polaroid, despite other people offering more money previously. OMG. I LOVE HER.
From that point, I was just completely melted and very and truly enjoying every single second. I will not be reviewing the show, which I am sure you don't mind - clearly I would not be objective anyway.
The first tears started rolling down my face during American Life, I honestly just could not believe I was hearing it live. The first interlude following that song completely took whatever there was left of my breath (not much) away - it was a prayer song that we can hear during Batuka, but obviously the full version, which played while Madonna's dancers were carrying a coffin with American flag over it - I might have just as well been in it at this point...
Second act of the show was 100 percent Madame X and involved a group of musicians from Cabo Verde as well as a grandson of a singer who inspired Madonna to make this record. Another thing I absolutely love - when artists actually perform new songs on their tours, not just their greatest hits. And of course, Madonna always has the added value in it.
Third act was the one I was the most excited for from the little I had known about the show. FROZEN. Oh boy, I ugly cried... This performance took me back to the times I was just a little girl dreaming of life while blasting the song on repeat. I was so damn lucky to be there and witness this. Next song, Come Alive, was such a touching part of the show as well, but it honestly just blended in for me as I was still getting over Frozen... Future followed, and that had me crying again... A mess, let me tell you.
Madonna saved Like a Prayer, which I assume she just HAD to perform as there weren't many new old songs in the show, was left almost to the end. Of course, it had the whole Palladium on their feet dancing, but I personally liked remixed versions from other tours better.
Somewhere at this point, I started thinking "Wait, she hasn't done Dark Balley and God control, has she?"...Not knowing at which part of the show she usually performed these, I just assumed one of them might be the encore, but I was corrected straight away when Madonna returned to stage and first tones of I rise started playing. Of course, I cried again for like, the whole song, up until she walked into the audience RIGHT NEXT TO ME. SO CLOSE AND SO PRETTY. She walked through the whole aisle surrounded by her dancers, and then disappeared somewhere in the middle. I couldn't figure out where she actually had gone, but anyway, THE END.
I returned to my friend Arek who had seen the show once before, and was very enthusiastically waiting for my opinion, but I couldn't even form one single word without tears...
I heard someone saying "WHAT A SHORT SHOW!!!" and found out that Madonna cut her entire act off, due to her knee injury. Well, shorter show, or no show? The answer was obvious. This is what later became known as The short version of the show - each time Madonna performed two days in a row, the second day would always be like this.
After putting myself together and joining the Madonna social circle again, we all agreed to go grab a drink somewhere. Not even one of us was organised enough to lead the group to an opened place, so we just stood there trying to figure out what we were doing and talking about the show, and then suddenly I noticed Madonna's make-up artist Aaron standing outside as well. He is the absolute sweetest person on Instagram ever, every time I react to any of his stories, he finds the time to chat to me for a little while. Since he has absolutely no clue who I am, I figured he must be doing this with every single fan and that is admirable... And so I walked up to him just to say thank you for that, and how refreshing and nice it was. Little did I know he was even more of an angle in real life, and so we stood there and chatted for ages and ages, basically up until the tubes were about to stop running. Talk about an amazing night!
The next morning, after I have processed all of my thoughts, I was absolutely sure none of my following shows could possibly get any better. I almost didn't want to go anymore, I just wanted to preserve this whole experience, lock it in a glass jar and stare at it for the rest of my life or something. I decided to sell my cheap ticket to give the chance to enjoy the tour to someone else as well. And I still had one ticket left, at least I thought.
Well, guess what. WRONG.
Each night, Madonna's team put a certain amount of tickets into a fanclub lottery. To take part, you had to email them a selfie with your fingers creating an X the day before the show and maybe you'd get lucky... I might have just said I almost did not want to go again, but what were the chances I would actually win, right?
I won on the 2nd Feb, the second time I took part. OMG!!!!!
And so I was off to another Madame X appointment way sooner than I thought I would be. I was going to take my gf Ilse with me, as Arek (with whom I had made an unbreakbale pack about only taking each other) already had a ticket for this night. We had absolutely no clue where our seats would be, but assumed it would be the cheap ones far in the back.
And so the whole thing just repeated itself - I got ready way too early, freaked out a little bit, got some drinks and then picked up the tickets. It indeed was the third balcony, which I was quite happy about as I just sold the exact same ticket, so at least I would get to see the show from a different perspective, even though it was another short day.
It turned out to be a bit too different. Down on the floor, I felt very much at home as each and every person surrounding me knew the new songs, everyone was as freaked out and and simply on the same fangirl level as me. The upper circle was nothing like that. Most of the people were just the type of concert goer that fans hate, the people who went to see it just so they could say they saw it. A few people even opened their sealed phone pouches and texted during the sho,w which is just so rude. Having decided to ignore it all, I still had a great time. Cried just twice during completely different songs (wtf, my mind?), and noticed many other details, such as productions over the balconies.
My next show, possibly the one I was looking forward the most, was right after - Feb 5th. Again, I was going with my gf, who had no choice but to be unwillingly sucked into this whole Madame X universe.
As I have mentioned, we upgraded our tickets for this show to Box BB. I spent DAYS overthinking whether this was the box right above the stage or the one next to it (literally about a meter difference, but that meter seemed like a mile in my mind). At some point, I convinced myself CC was the one I wanted and was even going to call ticketmaster again. Thank GOD (Madonna) that I did not. THIS was our view...
Since the Box was just for the two of us, I took my shoes off and was ready to rock my socks. Oh boy, I did...
FULL VERSION OF THE SHOW. GOD CONTROL AND DARK BALLET. OH -MY -GOD.
Apart from Frozen, this was my absolute favorite bit which Madonna made ten times better... Ever since they cancelled my front row, I knew one thing for sure - there was no chance for any personal interaction or a look. Even though she glanced my way a few times during my first show, it wasn't that sort of personal stare into one's eyes thing you'd like... I don't know if it was because I was right in her sight during some moves, or because the balcony was just standing out, but damn, she looked at me a lot. During Dark Ballet, I was dancing my socks away as mentioned, at one point of her dance routine, she pretended to be holding a gun and... I was the one she shot. She sent this smile my way as well, and I was just standing there like OH MY GOD. Did that happen?
Let me tell you, from then on, I did not sit down once (until she urged the audience to).
My friend Arek attempted buying a polaroid, but unfortunatelly for him, another fan beaten his money contriburtion by a little and so he didn't get it. He still had a really sweet conversation with Madge, who asked him where he was from and joked
As mentioned before, somewhere in the middle of the show, she brings on stage the grandson of Amalia Rodriguez, an artist who inspired her record. She always told a really nice story about meeting Amalia, reccomended we look her up, and explainsed that she had unfortunately passed away. Her grandson Gaspar (the guy with really big hair) had suggested Madonna could learn to sing a Fado song, and then she took him on tour. She also asked the audience wherever we knew what Fado meant. Clearly, my crazy fangirl ass yelled DESTINYYYYYYY..talked a bit more and then started singing the song. Half way through, she looked up my way and stared right. into. my. soul... and smiled. For loooooong. This was the best moment of my whole Madame X journey for me. I have her blue eyes completely burnt into my sight and I will never ever forget her face expression.
What happened at the end of the show, I don't have words to descibe and so I am pputting in a video from Madonna's instagram.
She was late, as always, and so Palladium decided to cut her off before she could perform I Rise. And she went NUTS. i have one more song to go, i have one more song to go, this is censorship, motherfuckers, motherfuckers, motherfuckers. We were all stood in desbelief, hoping they would put the courtain back up and the show would go on, but they didn't really... They never turned her music back on, nor the projections, but that did not stop her and her team. They were gonna perform the last song, and we were all there to hear it. It was the most beautiful moment in between Madonna and the audience, we all felt so close and connected... Yet again, I was so glad I had the cance to experience this. Best Madonna show ever, for me anyway.
The high would not stop that night. Leaving the Palladium, all happy and excited and full of emotions, I immediately checked my email to see that I won ticets for the day after as well. FUCK YEAH.
Arek won as well, and so we each got to bring a plus one without breaking our deal... this was already set to be a great night. When we picked up the tickets, we of course had upper circle again, but I was aware many floor tickets were available and asked for an upgrade, which they gave us... for free! All of us were Stalls, Row Q.
It was yet another short show, but our mood made up for the shorter set. Arek did manage to get his polaroid this time, Madonna called him a cheapstake and remembering him from the day before, she asked if he was still from Poland. Lol.
It was one big party for all of us. It felt like we had been living in the Palladium with Madonna forever, like we never left. The show was basically a follow-up of the previous one, kinda like Part 1 and Part 2: Clearly, Madonna was very pissed about events of previous night and she must have been fined or told off really bad, because she wouldn't shut up about it.
It is a shorter show, but not because I am lazy, but because I am injured. So would would you like better, a shorter show, or no show... you little bitchez? I am also on a timewatch. Madame X is a story teller, but she can not be telling stories, she has to clock in and out. If you have a problem with that, you can take it up yourself with the Wesminster council.
Especially the bit where she tells a story about Amelia was hysterical.
There was this singer, she died, she had a grandson, here he is.
We laughed and laughed while rest of the crowd around us had no clue what she was on about.
After she dissapeared in the middle of nowhere (I might be dumb but even after 4 shows, I still did not understand which way she was exiting each time), we all picked up my friend Vojta who had just flowin in from Czech, and decided to go grab a drink. Me and Ilse decided to lead the group to KU bar in Soho, but their bar section had closed. And so we went into their club for one drink...
I continued living on the complete Madonna vibe and entering the lottery for another week, until the Queen left London, but I stayed reasonable and did not blow my savings on any more shows. After all, It would really not get topped this time. During a tour that was extremely cruel to many fans, I got extremely lucky. Thank you to everyone who made it all the way to the end, and know that if you see me in the next few months, the chances are high I will be wearing Madame X merch.
Long live the Queen.