Madame X is rolling into town — albeit a little while after schedule.
Madonna was set to begin her mammoth run of shows at the London Palladium on Monday, but was forced to cancel it at the last minute, saying: “Under doctors’ guidance I have been told to rest for a few days”.
It seems the recurrence of an unspecified injury, one that has plagued her tour so far and forced her to cancel nine other concerts, flared up just before she was set to start her London performances.
Let’s hope any medical woes have been put to bed, as the Queen of Pop still has 14 gigs to get through in the capital – and judging by the reaction from critics and fans, the sprawling, multi-discipline show is well worth the wait.
If you’ve got tickets for any of Madonna’s Palladium dates, here are seven things you can expect.
You won’t be able to take your phone with you
A sea of phone screens floating above the crowd is an all too familiar sight at concerts these days, but that won’t be the case at Madonna’s London shows. In fact, the no-phone measures have been in place throughout the tour so far, in both America and Portugal. Upon arrival, fans are asked to place their devices in secure bags, given back to them after the gig. It definitely makes for a more intimate experience, but means you’ll have to go without that killer Insta.
You could bid for a one-off Polaroid snap (but it’ll cost you)
Without any phones at the shows, and with press photographers even banned from attending, pictures of what goes on inside the theatres are few and far between. It means that any snaps from the night are hot property — especially when they’re taken by Madonna herself. In each of the gigs so far, she has taken a moment to take a Polaroid picture and immediately auction it off to the highest bidder. The price is said to have regularly gone beyond four figures, with as much as €5,000 paid at one Lisbon concert. Despite reports of Madonna ridiculing fans for low offers, it’s not a money-grabbing exercise on her part – the money is donated to charity.
You might be able to share a beer with Madonna
The Madame X shows so far have been about much more than just the music. Madonna has been taking time out from the singing to tell jokes — “Ladies and gentlemen, this is what it’s like to have Mozart coming out of your pussy!" is one of the more talked-about lines — and indulge in a fair bit of audience interaction. She seems particularly fond of singling out a beer-swilling audience member and taking a sip of their drink. If you do end up down the front of the stalls, pint-in-hand, then be warned that you might have to share it.
Madonna is bound to make a typically bold political statement
Madonna has never shied away from being staunchly political in her music, and the Madame X tour looks as if it is carrying on in a similar vein. Attendees at her previous concerts have reported changed lyrics in some songs — most notably in Papa Don’t Preach, in which Madonna has been changing the lyrics to “I’m not gonna keep my baby”, in response to the battle for women’s reproductive rights — as well as taking swipes at Donald Trump, gun control and more.
There will be plenty of new songs in the setlist
The setlist has been changing slightly throughout the Madame X tour, but Madonna has consistently been featuring a high number of songs from that latest album of the same name. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — the record was one of her best this century, and proved she could still incorporate contemporary styles into her music — but it does mean some fan favourites from yesteryear won’t get an airing. That said, you can still count on hearing the likes of Vogue, Papa Don’t Preach and Like A Prayer.
Things could go on late into the night
“A queen is never late”. Those were the words of Madonna back in November, responding to criticism over her tardiness at a number of shows on the tour at that point. Whether or not you agree that pop royalty can run on a different schedule to us mere mortals, Madonna has certainly been keeping fans waiting, with various reports of shows not starting until hours after they were meant to. With the concerts themselves lasting longer than two hours, it means that fans at the Palladium should be prepared for the possibility of staying out until gone midnight.
It’s going to be a visual feast
A Madonna show is always theatrical in the extreme, and all of that stadium-sized flamboyance is still crammed into these smaller venues. Audience members at previous shows have reported multiple costume changes — with that now-infamous eyepatch staying on for most of them — with upwards of 40 backing dancers and singers, enhanced by a variety of big-screen videos and visual effects.