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.
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
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
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.
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,
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?
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
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
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
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
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.
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