20 years ago…. Ciao Italia!
I’m writing this article on September 1st 2007, and I realize that 20 fabulous Madonna years have passed since I saw
Madonna live in concert for the first time in the Who’s That Girl World tour, in Florence, Italy. It was September 6th 1987,
just two days after Raiuno broadcasted live, her first italian gig from Turin.
I became an avid Madonna fan in 1984, when I saw Madonna’s Lucky Star and Like a Virgin videos on rotation on the Italian
channel Videomusic, a sort of Italian Mtv, and even if I was very, very young at the time, I insisted to go to see her live, I couldn’t miss that chance.
I went there by bus, accompained by relatives. Actually it was a “Madonna bus”, full of fans. Actually I miss how the fans
were back then. They were less bitchy, less nasty, more genuine and naive than how most of them are today. But that “I know everything
about Madonna and you don’t” attitude, was already there!
Everybody in Italy loved and adored Madonna those days. She was seen as sort of a “national treasure”, due to her Italian roots,
and the controversial days, with members of the catholic church and religious associations protesting for
Madonna’s “obscene and blasphemous” behaviours (without even knowing what she
was actually doing on stage) still had to come.
The first week of September 1987, Italy had been struck by what was called the Madonna cyclone. Rai Uno produced and
broadcasted the first Madonna Live concert to be televised ever on September 4 1987. That broadcast held for a long time one of the all
time records for the most seen television programme ever with only the soccer world cup broadcast before it.
The city of Turin was complety paralized with fans coming from all over italy and nearby countries and the comune
even printed free special maps of the city with Madonna’s image on them.
We arrived in Florence just a few hours before the show and we went straight in. Our ‘tribuna’ places were not
that bad and that incredible tour programme with photos by Herb Ritts was being sold for today’s equivalent in
Lira of 2 and a half euros (I wish had bought more copies for my collection).
The most amazing thing for me as a child was the idea to actually be in the same stadium, in the same space, with
this larger than life figure. when Madonna came out I was thinking: “I can’t believe we are all here with the
woman that sings Into the groove, holiday, susan from Desperately seeking susan”, but there she was.
For the Florence show she was wearing a golden necklace with a medal engraved with some religious image. Probably
a gift from her the Italian relatives she met earlier that week in Turin. And you can still see her wearing that
necklace in your copies of the “Ciao Italia” dvd, which is a montage of three different shows, Torino, Firenze and Tokio.
When she dances during Lucky Star, or during her short opening speech after Open Your Heart, you actually see shots without
the neckless alternated with shots With the neckless. Some editing magic that even the great Harry Houdini would be proud of.
I remember that what also struck me the most was the way they used light and how often they projected Madonna’s shadow on
the audiece, first on the left stadium stalls and then on those on the right where we were seated.
That was also the first time Madonna used a lot of backdrop projectons to give her show a very theatrical influence, and in there
you could see the germ of that concept she would have pursued
more and devoleped in her next tours.
A couple of years ago, we had the chance to speak to Peter Morse,
the lighting director of that and many following Madonna live shows.
He confirmed my impression that the projection idea was so new to her and as she developed it with a previous light director that was later
substitued with Peter,it was very important to her to keep that intact when Peter stepped in.
Nowadays technology has evolved in such degree that led walls are used to present backing images and videos at their best
, while those days
they actually projected on white screens, and in a windy day that would have been a problem.
“There’s no worry of that sort of things today”, told us Peter, “but it was really a challenge those days.”
As with every experience you love and enjoy, time goes by so fast. Those two hours from “Open Your Heart” to the rocky version
of “Holiday” passed in a blink of an eye. Many records, tours, appearances would have come. I now have had the chance to see
Madonna performing from much closer than them and I can even spot myself many times in the Confessions Tour dvd in the first
raws in London, but the “Who’s that girl tour” in Florence will always have a special place in my heart.
It gave me the idea Madonna was there to stay and to bring fun and joy to the people “with an open heart and an open mind” for many many years.
She actually did and still does.
I’m happy I can still share the love and passion for Madonna’s work today through the love and passion I put into this site along with fans with the help of fans from all over the world. Happy 20th anniversary Who’s That Girl Tour!
The Immaculate, MadonnaTribe co-admin.
Torino – Vincy
Firenze – The Immaculate