Madonna's 'Celebration Tour' rolled into Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Dec. 13 for the first of several New York City dates to kick off the North American jaunt of the tour. The cultural trailblazer performed to a sold-out audience of 14,000.
While the "Material Girl" began her tour at London's O2 Arena back on October 14, she has been wowing the crowds with a high-energy performance that belies the serious bacterial infection that put her in the hospital in June. That delayed the start of the tour, but it hasn't curbed the series of surprises that have rolled along with her on the road.
The setlist commemorates her 40-year career encompassing essential Number 1s, deep-cut fan favorites and a few songs she hasn’t performed in years. Yet the emotional heart of the show has been "Live To Tell," which combines the melancholy ballad with images of lives lost to HIV/AIDS (many of them friends and colleagues of Madonna's).
During the Barclays performance, she brought out "I Love New York," for the first time live in 15 years. It's a harder rocking number than most of the accompanying Confessions on a Dance Floor. She rocked it up even more, stepping out with her Gibson to shred and continuing onto "Burning Up."
And like a native New Yorker, Madonna couldn't resist the opportunity to celebrate like one. "The relief that people here speak my language — the language of c**t. No one is more surprised that I have made it this far than me. I didn't think I was gonna make it this summer, but here I am," she added.
"Thank you for your support, your love. People don’t understand — the love from a New Yorker is like making a big fat, smelly rat come up to you and put your arms around you. It’s like, I made it! Not to compare you guys to rats."
She brought up to the stage during the "Vogue" runway judging segment, not a celebrity but Josh Popper, her rumored boyfriend, and reality TV veteran who runs a gym in New York City called Bredwinners.
"He taught all my dancers how to box — I taught him a thing or two, too," she drily intoned. "We'll talk about that later though."
She also addressed the violence in the Middle East, telling the crowd to be grateful that "people aren’t blowing us up and shooting us and kidnapping us."
"There are people on the other side of the world that don’t have that privilege," she said, "That cannot depend upon tomorrow. Let’s take a moment to be grateful."
The colossal 79-date tour is produced by Live Nation. The celebration will continue across the US and Canada throughout the spring of 2024, including a return to New York for dates at Madison Square Garden and five shows at Los Angeles' Kia Forum. The North American tour will conclude with five shows in Mexico City next April. Check out the dates and ticket information here.