Manchester goes mad for Madonna
THE MEN Arena is gearing up for arguably its biggest ever weekend when Madonna kicks off the European leg of her Re:Invention tour on Saturday and Sunday.
It is more than twenty years since the pop icon first performed in the city, when she sang Holiday at the legendary Hacienda nightclub as part of a special Manchester edition of Channel Four’s music programme The Tube.
That was her first performance ever in the UK and to date is still her last appearance in Manchester, although she has played in the north since – at Leeds’ Roundhay Park in 1987 – and in London as recently as 2001.
Madonna, who now lives in London with her husband Guy Richie and her children Rocco and Lourdes, does have some other Manchester connections, though.
In her early days she supported the cult Factory Records act A Certain Ratio when the Wythenshawe four-piece played at the Danceteria club in New York.
“Her manager paid us one hundred dollars to buy her onto the gig as a showcase,” the band’s singer Martin Moscrop said in 2002.
“She did four songs with two dancers and the reel-to-reel tape machine with a backing track on it. You could tell she was going to be a star.
“The next time we saw her was at the Hacienda in Manchester and the rest is history,” Moscrop added in an interview with Propertop magazine.
Then in 2001, Madge attended chef Marco Pierre White’s 40th birthday where the comedian, Harpurhey’s Bernard Manning, ribbed her for wearing a designer cap, saying: “You look like Lester Piggott with that hat on!”
Afterwards, Manning told the Manchester Evening News that Madonna found the joke “hilarious” and it was rumoured she might invite him to perform at her husband’s birthday party shortly afterwards.
And Madge has formed an unlikely political alliance with former Smiths’ frontman Morrissey in vocally criticising the current US president saying: “I don’t want to equate George Bush with Saddam Hussein.
“But I believe that George Bush and Saddam Hussein are both behaving in an irresponsible manner. So, in that respect, they’re alike.”
The Re:Invention tour is said to carry a strong anti-war message in keeping with her belief in Kabbalah, an offshoot of Judaism.
But the shows are also believed to include many of the biggest hits from her two decades in pop, such as Vogue, Material Girl, Like A Prayer, Frozen, Into The Groove and Papa Don’t Preach.
Madonna originally announced just one show in Manchester but after that sold out in one hour she added the Saturday gig. However, some extra tickets for the gigs, which are numbers 38 and 39 of her 54 date world tour, have since been released.