I had always planned to attend the last show of the tour which, we knew from Caresse, was going to be in Europe so my friends and I duly bought tickets to the 4th September show at the fantastic Bercy in Paris which was scheduled to be the grand finale of Re-Invention. Excellent - how exciting!

But then all the extra dates began appearing...first in France...then in Holland...and finally due to the concerted and persistant efforts of a small group of polite but determined Portuguese fans the final two shows at the first class Atlantic Pavillion in Lisbon were announced together with confirmation that these definitely were to be the last shows and that the first one would be filmed for the official Re-Invention Tour DVD.


How could anyone refuse that? Especially with the tempting offer of "VIP Platinum Standing" tickets at less than half the price of a top price UK ticket!
Tickets for the first night were easily secured through the ICON presale and it was just down to securing a prized pair to the final night of the tour - the 14th September 2004, almost exactly three years since the end of Madonna's previous world tour.
This proved a trickier affair due to the ancient booking system employed by the venue, but eventually, after about three hundred failed attempts and depsite only wanting two tickets,
I managed to reserve four VIP Platinum Standing tickets to what was widely rumoured could be Madonna's last ever live show (something later denied by Madonna to me personally at Selfridges! Phew!)

So - onto Portugal where the sun was shining and the weather was sweet.
The local newspapers were full to bursting with Madonna news, sightings, reports and huge anticipation of the most exciting shows to head their way since the early 1990s.
The fact that a pair of VIP Platinum tickets equalled approximately a month's wages for most Lisbon locals didn't seem to put them off and when my friend Sean and I rolled up at the venue early on Monday 13th September there were many locals in the small queues which was great to see.

Once we figured out that there were actually 8 separate queues (!), four alone for VIP Platium ticket holders, we picked our spot and hoped it was going to be the right one!
Crazy, but exciting. Having heard all the scare stories of the queueing nightmares experienced in Paris and Arnhem I was hoping that the Portuguese would be more organised and calm.

I was glad to find out this was the case. In fact, the Portuguese fans and staff at the venue were by far the nicest and most friendly to us foreigners that I experienced on this tour.

They all spoke brilliant English, were happy to help and advise non-locals and were clearly just incredibly excited to be there. Depsite this being my 11th show - I joined them in their excitement!
I was surprised to discover many of the "usual suspects" hadn't made the trip out to Portugal for these shows though - maybe they were 'a show too far'?
I had worried that my having a ticket maybe meant a Portuguese fan couldn't go, but a lovely Portuguese chap queueing next to me explained they were grateful so many Europeans had made the trip to Lisbon as due to the ticket prices they feared the shows wouldn't sell out as not enough Portuguese could afford it and would end up cancelled!


There was a real sense in the air amongst the locals that they couldn't quite believe they would be seeing Madonna that night after waiting 22 long years for her to visit their country!

I was asked a thousand questions about the show once the fans sitting with us realised we had seen the show already but I didn't give anything away.

Needless to say they got more and more excited as the day progressed.
Around 4pm we began to hear rumblings of the soundcheck inside the venue and the excitement level rose. It was around this time we discovered that the doors wouldn't even open until at least 7.30pm and the show was unlikely to start until 10pm!
How European! Nearer the time they plan-ned to let us in armed police arrived to ensure calm and organised entry to the venue, and it worked spectacularly. I was so impressed, especially considering the chaos at previous venues which were much more use to dealing with events of this scale.

Inside the venue it quickly became apparent that these two shows would be different to the others - there were no seats right at the sides of the stage or behind it, large sections of the venue were barriered off to allow room for large camera runs and the standing area of the venue was divided in two - the VIP Platinum ticket holders being stood between the stage and the end of where the catwalk came down to the ground, and the cheaper standing ticket holders behind that.


This allowed for a two metre deep camera run right across the centre of the crowd which should provide stunning on-stage screen views if the Lisbon dates do end up forming the live DVD as planned.
They practised filming camera angles and crowd shots for at least an hour before the show even started!
There was also a massive extra lighting rig suspended over the entire standing area of the crowd to be lit up for extra effect.


Inside the venue we were surprised to see the price of the merchandise. Due to these shows being the final dates of the tour the tour book was down from a maximum price of £25 in London to a bargain 15 Euros!

The crowd up front with us were lovely - no pushing and shoving and an immense sense of anticipation.
Everyone seemed happy with their spot and the announcements that we were welcome to take photos but please to only smoke a few cigarettes during the evening got the crowd laughing.

Some of the dancers came out to the front of the barrier and met some fans and then the Portuguese Prime Minister made a big entrace in the VIP box which had everyone (apart from us) craning their necks for a look. Not quite as cool as Kylie in London or Zidane in Paris, but interesting nonetheless.

As suspected Madonna did not arrive on stage until gone 10pm (which, for those of us who had arrived at the venue at 10am, welcomed gladly!)

The show returned to the originally conceived US style of glittering gold corset for the opening section and "Kaballists Do It Better" T-shirt during Crazy For You, but she chose to perform the vastly improved Bittersweet Symphony version of Don't Tell Me with the London backdrop.

Madonna was on-form and put on a spectacular show as always but limited herself to one phrase in Portuguese - "Are you all right? Are you enjoying yourselves? Thank you".


Before Imagine she slowly and clearly said "This song was written 35 years ago but could've been written yesterday. History is doomed to repeat itself" and there were little pockets of fans who all suddenly lit sparklers and waved them about. It looked beautiful.
The cameras were flying all over the place capturing the show, the excited crowd and the lucky dance pit fans so hopfeully the special atmosphere will be captured on the DVD.


At the end of Papa Don't Preach she told the crowd "It's about time I came to Portugal, its a wonderful place to end my tour. I'm not happy about ending it though but thanks for having us" and she had a huge grin when the crowd roared their approval.

Holiday was the usual ballistic crowd celebration and we all spilled out into the streets, gone midnight, high on Madonna - those of you who were lucky enough to see a show will know the exact feeling I am talking about.


So - the final day dawned and by now we knew they were to film the final night as well so were a bit more prepared for how the evening would progress.

Having seen how small the VIP Platinum queues were we decided against queueing all day and only got to the venue at about 5pm but were still right near the front.

Throughtout the day I'd begun hearing that rumours were flying she was to add a surprise to the final show and when they began rehearsing with the big side doors the queues fell silent hoping to hear the strains of Dress You Up, Like A Virgin or I'm So Stupid, all of which had been rumoured.
We heard none of those, but a few run-throughs of Vogue, Burning Up and then a song no-one there knew.
Maybe a new one? No-one knows, but it turned out that the show was the same setlist as every other show.

In we went, as organised and calm as the previous day and we managed to get a spot about three back from the barrier, slightly to the left of middle.
During the two hours inside before the show most of the dancers came out behind the barrier to meet fans and Monte came out to sign ticket stubs.

The mischevious scamp then began telling people if we cheered the loudest she would sing an extra song for us!
When the lights went down and The Beast Within began the crowd energy level lifted 100% and it really had a celebratory feeling which was maintained for the whole show.

You could see Madonna, the dancers and the singers were all in the mood to put on the best show of the tour and really gave it their all - every dance routine was perfect, the vocals were spot on and luckily there were no mishaps like had happened on previous shows like ladders in tights and forgotten lyrics!

During Material Girl Madonna bellowed out to the crowd "I'll give you one more chance to blow the roof off this motherfucker!" and they roared back in unison to her, as the biggest smile spread across her face.

When she got to Like A Prayer (an emotional moment for me - my favourite song for the last time) she announced "Alright we are just getting this party started...And you ain't seen the last of me... Life is a Mystery..." so maybe the rumours of this being her final show ever had reached her?

Who knows - I was too busy bouncing arm in arm with my new Portuguese and Australian friends (as well as trying to text back to the UK to keep everyone online up to date!).

During Like A Prayer Madonna made a clear effort to thank Sideah by giving her a huge kiss on her cheek and smearing lipstick all over her as she tried to sing the gospel part made famous by Nikki!
They collapsed into giggles at the end as Madonna tried (and failed) to wipe it off.

Her plea in Imagine tonight was simple and heartfelt "We have to make this world a better place".


From then on the show became one big party. The drummers in Into The Groove got the giggles, the bagpiper went so red in the face that there was serious concern that he was about to have a heart attack, but I think he was just swelling with pride at realising just how special this tour had been.

Papa Don't Preach followed and we knew the final speech would be special, but none of expected her to burst into tears and look utterly humble.

She eventually got these words out :

"I look around and see so much love and joy in your eyes. I look at the people that work with me, I don't want tonight to end. Thank you Portugal"

and I thought for just about the first time we got a glimpse of the little, emotional woman in the middle of the media storm.
She looked genuinely overwhelmed.

Everyone around me had tears in their eyes which began streaming once she had regained her composure and began singing Crazy For You.

Music and Holiday were a return to the carnival atmosphere and the explosions at the end of Holiday threw the usual red and white ticker tape out to people outside the bridge, but also, uniquely to this show, long multicoloured streamers of every hue into the middle onto 'all her people on the floor'.

The show ended, but as the "Re-Invent Yourself" screens closed we could see each of the dancers getting a hug and a kiss from Madonna and then they all began dancing with each other as the crowd screamed and cheered.


The extra song never materialised, but in hindsight I'm glad it didn't. The show was perfect as it was.
We stumbled out onto the plaza in a daze only to be met by Jonas Akerlund and his camera crew so we lined up as many of us we could find wearing different "<my country> does it better" T-shirts so he could film us for the documentary.

...and like that - the tour was over.

Thanks to Nuno for the scans from the Portuguese press


Copyright 2005 MadonnaTribe