Madonna took the stage at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday, marking the long-awaited debut of her Celebration world tour. The tour’s launch was significantly delayed after the artist faced a serious health scare earlier in the summer.
In a performance that was both somber and celebratory, Madonna paid tribute to some of the late icons who influenced her rise to stardom, including Prince, Michael Jackson, and Sinead O’Connor. The 65-year-old “Like a Virgin” performer also candidly addressed her health struggles, sharing with her fans the gravity of her recent ordeal.
“It’s been a crazy year for me. I didn’t think I was going to make it, neither did my doctors. That’s why I woke up with all of my children sitting around me,” Madonna revealed to a captivated audience.
Madonna’s health setback was due to a bacterial infection in June, which led to the cancellation of the initial North American leg of her Celebration tour. She described the experience, saying, “I forgot five days of my life – or my death. I don’t really know where I was.”
She went on to express her gratitude for her children, whom she credited with saving her time and time again, stating, “If you want to know my secret and how I pulled through and how I survived, I thought, ‘I’ve got to be there for my children. I have to survive for them.'”
The night was marked by poignant moments, including a tribute to the victims of the AIDS epidemic, displayed on the arena’s giant screens as Madonna sang verses from her emotional ballad “In This Life.” Her late friend, the artist Keith Haring, was remembered during a rendition of her 1986 hit “Live to Tell.”
Amidst the moments of reflection, Celebration also brought joy to the audience. Madonna’s daughter, Mercy James, appeared behind a piano, flawlessly rendering the opening notes to “Bad Girl,” another song from her 1992 album Erotica. Other daughters, Lourdes Leon, Stella, and Estere, joined the performance of “Vogue” as they celebrated Lourdes’ birthday.
The show featured dazzling lighting and video effects. Madonna often performed facing away from the audience, with her image projected flawlessly to the crowd. However, the Celebration tour had an unexpectedly intimate feel, as Madonna took time to reflect on her unparalleled career and personal journey, as well as the journeys of others who influenced her along the way.
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