Blond Ambition World Tour

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Blond Ambition World Tour
Madonna bawt90.jpg
Limited edition tour poster
Tour by Madonna
Associated album Like a Prayer
I'm Breathless
Start date April 13, 1990 (1990-04-13)
End date August 5, 1990 (1990-08-05)
Legs 3
Shows 9 in Asia
32 in North America
16 in Europe
57 Total
Box office US$60 million ($108.31 in 2014 dollars)[1]
Madonna concert chronology
Who's That Girl World Tour
(1987)
Blond Ambition World Tour
(1990)
The Girlie Show World Tour
(1993)

The Blond Ambition World Tour was the third concert tour by American singer-songwriter Madonna. The tour was launched in support of her fourth studio album, Like a Prayer, and the soundtrack, I'm Breathless. The tour reached North America, Europe and Asia. It was a highly controversial tour, mainly for its juxtaposition of Catholic iconography and sexuality. Rolling Stone called it an "elaborately choreographed, sexually provocative extravaganza" and proclaimed it "the best tour of 1990."[2] In 1991, a documentary film, Truth or Dare (In Bed with Madonna outside North America), was released chronicling the tour. The tour received the "Most Creative Stage Production" at the Pollstar Concert Industry Awards.[3] The tour was named the Greatest Concert of the 1990s by Rolling Stone.[4] The tour grossed over $60 million. In North America only, 482,832 tickets were sold in the first two hours, during the pre-sale, grossing $14,237,000.[5] The tour, also, breaks the record at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena with $456,720, becoming the musical event with the highest grossing of all time.[6]

The tour was met with strong reaction from religious groups for her performance of "Like a Virgin", during which two male dancers caressed her body before she simulated masturbation.[7] The Church of England and the Catholic Church criticised her performance and the Pope asked the general public and the Christian community not to attend the concert.[8] A private association of Catholics calling themselves Famiglia Domani also boycotted the tour for its eroticism.[9] In response, Madonna said, "The tour in no way hurts anybody's sentiments. It's for open minds and gets them to see sexuality in a different way. Their own and others"."[10]

The concert was filmed several times, including dates in the United States, France, Japan and Spain. An HBO TV special, titled Madonna - Live! Blond Ambition World Tour 90, was filmed in Nice, France and was later released commercially as Blond Ambition World Tour Live by Pioneer Artists, exclusively on the Laserdisc format. The title went on to win a Grammy Award in 1992 for Best Long Form Music Video. Another title, Blond Ambition Japan Tour 90, was released exclusively in Japan by Warner-Pioneer.

Background[edit]

Madonna performing "Express Yourself" as the opening number from the tour

Originally to be called the "Like a Prayer World Tour",[11] Sire Records announced the Blond Ambition World Tour in November 1989, following the success of Madonna's fourth studio album, Like a Prayer, and Madonna's performance of "Express Yourself" at the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards - considered as a tour preview. Initially, the tour was only to reach Japan and North America, as Madonna was considering roles in several films. By the end of 1989 plans were announced to bring the tour to Europe as well because of popularity and fan demand. In December 1989, when preparations for the tour began, Madonna herself announced during a pre-recorded interview on German TV channel ZDF, that she would tour Germany during 1990.[12] In April 1990, additional dates in Europe were added.[13] Stage preparations and dress rehearsals took place at the Disney Studios, Burbank, California, before the tour kicked off in Japan.

The tour incorporated as central themes, sexuality and Catholicism, a combination which engendered controversy. The catholic associations called for a boycott of the show in Rome, and one of three scheduled Italian dates was eventually canceled. The show has achieved a measure of cult status, with elements such as the bullet bra and false ponytail hairpiece becoming cultural icons in their own right.

Madonna herself called the concert "like musical theater" and choreographer Vincent Paterson stated she wanted to "break every rule we can... She wanted to make statements about sexuality, cross-sexuality, the church... But the biggest thing we tried to do was change the shape of concerts. Instead of just presenting songs, we wanted to combine fashion, Broadway, and performance art."

The show's explicit overtone caused problems. In Toronto, police were alerted that the show might possibly contain lewd and obscene content (particularly a masturbation scene) and threatened charges unless parts of the show were changed. The show went on unaltered, however, and no charges were made after the tour manager gave the police an ultimatum: "Cancel the show, and you'll have to tell 30,000 people why."[14]

French fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier designed the costumes for the tour, including the now-infamous cone brassiere. Additional costume pieces were designed by Marlene Stewart, who had previously worked with Madonna on the 1987 Who's That Girl World Tour.

Director Alek Keshishian captured more than 250 hours of film of Madonna and her troupe during the tour. This footage was edited and released to movie theaters as Truth or Dare (aka In Bed with Madonna).

Due to ongoing throat problems, six shows had to be canceled, bringing the tour down from 63 shows to 57; altogether, 125,000 tickets had to be refunded. The proceeds of the last American date in New Jersey, was donated to the Nonprofit organization amfAR and dedicated to her friend Keith Haring who died of AIDS, grossing over $300,000.[15]

Concert synopsis[edit]

Madonna and her back up dancers, performing "Material Girl" as part of the Art Deco segment of the tour

The show was separated into five different sections: Metropolis, Religious, Dick Tracy, Art Deco and Encore. It began with the Metropolis segment, which was inspired by the Fritz Lang silent film. It begins with "Express Yourself", which includes an introduction from her 1982 song "Everybody". The stage was inspired by the "Express Yourself" music video and set in a large industrial machine-room with shirtless male dancers. Madonna enters the stage at the top of a long staircase, dressed in a pinstripe suit, with cone-bra and garters from her bustier visible. In this segment, Madonna also performs "Open Your Heart" and has a mock-fight with her back-up dancers in "Causing a Commotion" (dressed in colorful bicycling gear). The final performance on this segment is "Where's the Party"; Madonna leaves the stage early for a costume change, while three male dancers continue dancing until the song ends.

The second segment was passionate and religious-themed, beginning with a Middle-Eastern version of "Like a Virgin" sung on a red silk bed. Madonna is dressed in a gold corset and performs with two hermaphrodite dancers on each side of the bed and concludes the song by simulating masturbation. The set is then transformed into a church; Madonna wears a black robe and a large crucifix during "Like a Prayer", with her back-up singers and dancers dressed as nuns and priests. A medley of "Live to Tell" and "Oh Father" and a performance of "Papa Don't Preach" end this section.

The third segment was a cabaret inspired by the 1990 motion picture Dick Tracy, in which Madonna starred as "Breathless Mahoney". During this segment, Madonna was wearing a green and white striped showgirl outfit. It included performances of "Sooner or Later", sung atop a grand piano, "Hanky Panky" and "Now I'm Following You", in which she danced and lip-synched with the dancer Salim Gauwloos, who was dressed like Dick Tracy.

The fourth segment was inspired by 1930s Hollywood films using the work of artist Tamara de Lempicka and an Art Deco set design. Madonna performs "Material Girl" in a mocking dumb blonde voice, wearing hair rollers and bathrobe, (later removed to reveal a dress with pink fur). "Cherish" is performed with three male dancers dressed as mer-men whilst Madonna simulates playing the harp. Madonna ends the section with "Into The Groove" (with a sample from the 1989 Inner City song "Ain't Nobody Better") and a minimal version of "Vogue" performing choreography from its music video, dressed in a black sports bra and lycra shorts.

The fifth and final segment includes the two encores to the show; "Holiday", with Madonna in 1970s polka-dots and ruffles singing a sample from "Do the Bus Stop" and "Keep It Together" inspired by the work of Bob Fosse with Madonna dressed in bowler hat and performing chair-juggling. The "Keep It Together" routine was also inspired by the film A Clockwork Orange and found Madonna speaking with a cockney accent. The show finale has Madonna singing "Keep it together, Keep people together, forever and ever" over and over, finishing with her removing her hat and the spotlight zooming on to it.

The Japan and North American shows featured Madonna in her trademark blonde ponytail hair extensions. However, because the hairpiece kept getting caught in her headset microphone and was pulling her real hair out by the root, she switched to short blonde curls for the European leg of the tour.

After the tour, Madonna and her entire Blond Ambition tour stage troupe recreated a neoclassic-themed performance of Vogue at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards.

The official tourbook and promotional posters for the tour used photography from the 1989 music video "Express Yourself" and Vogue.

Broadcasts and recordings[edit]

Madonna performing "Keep It Together" as the closing number from the tour

Two shows were released commercially; the August 5 show in Nice, France, was taped and aired on HBO in the United States becoming the most-watched entertainment special in HBO's 18-year history, the program had a 21.5 rating, reaching an audience of more than 4.3 million households.[16] Time Warner's HBO, paid $1 million for the rights to broadcast the final concert in Nice.[17] The show was released worldwide with the title Blond Ambition World Tour Live on Laserdisc, as part of a sponsorship deal with Pioneer Electronics. One of the Yokohama, Japan dates was also taped and released on VHS and Laserdisc in the Japanese market as Blond Ambition Japan Tour 90. Pioneer signed an exclusive deal to release these concerts on laser disc only and thus no video or DVD has yet been released.

In addition to these shows, the August 1 show in Barcelona, Spain was taped and aired on television in Europe, Australia and Canada by SACIS-RAI. This show is known by fans for numerous technical mistakes (including Madonna forgetting part of the lyrics to "Sooner or Later" and "Material Girl," getting her monocle caught on her headset microphone at the beginning of "Express Yourself", and not realizing that her headset microphone was still live as she exited the stage after "Where's the Party," resulting in her command at a backstage crewmember to "get the fuck out of my fuckin' way"). All three Parisian dates were taped by Alek Keshishian for Truth or Dare (aka In Bed with Madonna).

Video of the second night of the USA leg of the tour (May 5, 1990, Houston, Texas) taken from the video screens has been widely circulated among the fan community. In addition a poor quality Germany-only DVD Blond Ambition Tour 1990 is from the same Houston show, not to be confused with the first night of the USA leg of the tour (May 4, 1990, Houston, Texas) which was also partially aired live on the MTV special Blond Date during the Madonna Weekend.

In the UK, BBC Radio 1 broadcast the full show, live from Wembley Stadium in London on Saturday 21 July which led to controversy over the amount of swear words Madonna uttered live on air and the BBC had to issue an apology. Highlights of the show were lated aired after the 1992 interview with Madonna and Simon Bates.

The second show in Dallas was recorded for radio broadcast in the USA with the in-between song chatter removed. 'Express Yourself' and 'Open Your Heart' are recorded from the first Dallas show, whereas the remainder of the recording is from the second Dallas show.

Radio NRG broadcast highlights from the first European show in Sweden on June 30.

Legacy[edit]

The Blond Ambition World Tour has been regarded as an iconic musical performance by many critics and media, such as the Rolling Stone magazine which acclaimed its elaborated choreography and sexual provocativeness, calling it the best tour of 1990[2] and later the best tour of the 1990s.[4]

Within the show, Madonna continued to influence the fashion world in her most shocking and expensive way. She popularized the idea of wearing underwear as outer wear and has since been associated with the pink satin conical bra designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier. She also wore a long blonde ponytail hairpiece for the Japanese and North American legs of the tour. The ponytail was based on a Tressy Tessy doll Madonna had played with as a child, and she decided to use it as she felt it added a feminine playfulness and contrast to the hard fashions she was wearing. After the US leg of the tour ended, Madonna stopped wearing the ponytail on stage as it was reportedly causing her hair to break off.

Set list[edit]

  1. "Express Yourself" (contains excerpts from "Everybody")
  2. "Open Your Heart"
  3. "Causing a Commotion"
  4. "Where's The Party"
  5. "Like a Virgin"
  6. "Like a Prayer" (contains excerpts from "Act of Contrition")
  7. "Live to Tell" / "Oh Father"
  8. "Papa Don't Preach"
  9. "Sooner or Later"
  10. "Hanky Panky"
  11. "Now I'm Following You"
  12. "Material Girl"
  13. "Cherish"
  14. "Into the Groove" (contains elements of "Ain't Nobody Better")
  15. "Vogue"
  16. "Holiday" (contains elements of "Do the Bus Stop")
  17. "Keep It Together" (contains excerpts from "Family Affair")

Shows[edit]

List of concerts, showing date, city, country, venue, and opening act
Date City Country Venue Opening act
Asia[18]
April 13, 1990 Chiba Japan Chiba Marine Stadium Technotronic
April 14, 1990
April 15, 1990
April 20, 1990 Nishinomiya Hankyu Nishinomiya Stadium
April 21, 1990
April 22, 1990
April 25, 1990 Yokohama Yokohama Stadium
April 26, 1990
April 27, 1990
North America[18]
May 4, 1990 Houston United States The Summit Technotronic
May 5, 1990
May 7, 1990 Dallas Reunion Arena
May 8, 1990
May 11, 1990 Los Angeles Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena
May 12, 1990
May 13, 1990
May 15, 1990
May 16, 1990
May 18, 1990 Oakland Oakland Coliseum Arena
May 19, 1990
May 20, 1990
May 23, 1990 Rosemont Rosemont Horizon
May 24, 1990
May 27, 1990 Toronto Canada SkyDome
May 28, 1990
May 29, 1990
May 31, 1990 Auburn Hills United States The Palace of Auburn Hills
June 1, 1990
June 4, 1990 Worcester The Centrum
June 5, 1990
June 8, 1990 Landover Capital Centre
June 9, 1990
June 11, 1990 Uniondale Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
June 12, 1990
June 13, 1990
June 16, 1990 Philadelphia Philadelphia Spectrum
June 17, 1990
June 20, 1990 East Rutherford Brendan Byrne Arena
June 21, 1990
June 24, 1990
June 25, 1990[a]
Europe[18]
June 30, 1990 Gothenburg Sweden Eriksberg Shipyard Docks Technotronic
July 3, 1990 Paris France Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy
July 4, 1990
July 6, 1990
July 10, 1990 Rome Italy Stadio Flaminio
July 13, 1990 Turin Stadio delle Alpi
July 15, 1990 Munich West Germany Olympia-Reitstadion Riem
July 17, 1990 Dortmund Westfalenhallen
July 20, 1990 London United Kingdom Wembley Stadium
July 21, 1990
July 22, 1990
July 24, 1990 Rotterdam Netherlands Feijenoord Stadion
July 27, 1990 Madrid Spain Vicente Calderón Stadium
July 29, 1990 Vigo Estadio Municipal Balaídos
August 1, 1990 Barcelona Olympic Stadium
August 5, 1990 Nice France Stade de l'Ouest

Cancelled shows[edit]

List of cancelled concerts, showing date, city, country, venue and reason for cancellation
Date City Country Venue Reason
May 25, 1990 Rosemont United States Rosemont Horizon Vocal cord infection[20][21][22]
June 6, 1990 Worcester The Centrum
June 15, 1990 Philadelphia The Spectrum
June 22, 1990 East Rutherford Meadowlands Arena
July 11, 1990 Rome Italy Stadio Flaminio Low ticket sales and labor unions' strike[23]

Personnel[edit]

She's Breathless promotion[edit]

She's Breathless is a promotional music video compilation by singer Madonna. It was released by WEA Records UK in 1990 to promote the Blond Ambition Tour and was only available to UK record stores and the music industry.

Track listing[edit]

Includes 18 music videos:

  1. "Like a Virgin"
  2. "Material Girl"
  3. "Into the Groove"
  4. "Angel"
  5. "Dress You Up"
  6. "Borderline"
  7. "Live to Tell"
  8. "Papa Don't Preach"
  9. "True Blue"
  10. "Open Your Heart"
  11. "La Isla Bonita"
  12. "Who's That Girl"
  13. "Causing a Commotion"
  14. "Like a Prayer"
  15. "Express Yourself"
  16. "Cherish"
  17. "Dear Jessie"
  18. "Vogue"

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The June 25, 1990 concert in East Rutherford, New Jersey at the Brendan Byrne Arena was originally planned to take place on June 19 but was rescheduled due to Madonna having laryngitis.[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  2. ^ a b Walters, Barry (2006-06-01). "Crucifixes, Leather and Hits". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2008-07-13. 
  3. ^ "Pollstar Concert Industry Awards Winners Archives, 1990". Pollstar. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  4. ^ a b Ciccone, Christopher (2008) 'Life with my Sister Madonna', Simon & Schuster: New York, pp. 277
  5. ^ http://business.highbeam.com/53/article-1G1-8903793/400000-madonna-tickets-sold-first-two-hours
  6. ^ http://business.highbeam.com/53/article-1G1-10607298/wrestlemania-vii-grosses-720235
  7. ^ Smith, Neil (2004-05-24). "Show Stealer Madonna on Tour". BBC. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  8. ^ Grunt, Gary (2006-05-23). "Madonna's giant cross offensive". BBC. Retrieved 2006-05-28. 
  9. ^ Sexton 1993, p. 88
  10. ^ Fisher, Carrie (August 1991). "True Confessions: The Rolling Stone Interview With Madonna". Rolling Stone. ISSN 0035-791X. 
  11. ^ "Madonna - Like A Prayer Pepsi can [PepsiCan] - [Germany]". Madonna Shop. Retrieved 2008-12-27. 
  12. ^ Madonna announces German Tour
  13. ^ Kolson, Ann (1990-06-14). "Putting "Blond Ambition Tour" on its feet". Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Media Holdings LLC). p. C1. 
  14. ^ "Random Notes" by Sheila Rogers, Rolling Stone magazine, 12–26 July 1990, page 13
  15. ^ http://books.google.it/books?id=mqqFX9lU98IC&pg=PA189&lpg=PA189&dq=madonna+landover+1990&source=bl&ots=f2raSAeEzK&sig=rsyZRD8y8-zPtQelVRER2415640&hl=it&sa=X&ei=CyVDUaWlL8SM7QbPj4GADA&ved=0CIIBEOgBMAg4KA#v=onepage&q=madonna%20landover%201990&f=false
  16. ^ "NAMES IN THE NEWS : Madonna Sets Telecast Record". Los Angeles Times. August 8, 1990. 
  17. ^ Bigman, Dan. Forbes http://www.forbes.com/sites/danbigman/2013/06/24/forbes-celebrity-covers-madonna-october-1990/3/ |url= missing title (help). 
  18. ^ a b c "Madonna.com > Tours > Blond Ambition Tour". Madonna.com. Retrieved June 22, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Madonna Reschedules". The New York Times. June 19, 1990. 
  20. ^ Hilkevitch, Jon (May 25, 1990). "Madonna Cancels Concert". Chicago Tribune. 
  21. ^ http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-8177219.html
  22. ^ http://articles.philly.com/1990-06-15/entertainment/25912698_1_blond-ambition-tour-liz-rosenberg-performances
  23. ^ Robert E. Tomasson (July 12, 1990). "Chronicle". The New York Daily News. Retrieved June 22, 2014.