The MDNA Tour

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The MDNA Tour
The MDNA Tour.png
Promotional poster for The MDNA Tour
Tour by Madonna
Associated album MDNA
Start date May 31, 2012 (2012-05-31)
End date December 22, 2012 (2012-12-22)
Legs 3
Shows 88
Box office US$305.2 million
Madonna concert chronology
Sticky & Sweet Tour
(2008–09)
The MDNA Tour
(2012)

The MDNA Tour was the ninth concert tour by American singer-songwriter Madonna. It showcased material from her twelfth studio album, MDNA (2012). The tour visited the Americas, Europe and the Middle East. This marked the singer's first performances in the United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Scotland and Colombia. The tour was initially planned to reach Australia in January 2013 but was cancelled; Madonna apologized through a video letter on her official YouTube account.

Madonna described the tour as "the journey of a soul from darkness to light". It was divided into four sections: Transgression, where guns and violence was the main theme, Prophecy, where a mix of joyful songs that bring people together are performed, Masculine/Feminine, a combination of sensuality and fashion with a few of Madonna's classic songs performed in a French Cabaret-style, and Redemption, which Madonna labeled as "a big party and celebration". The tour has received mostly positive reception from critics.

The tour courted many controversial subjects such as violence, firearms, human rights, nudity and politics. Lawsuits threatened against Madonna have also been engaged from the tour. The MDNA Tour created immense success at the box office and many venues were instantly sold out. It was dubbed as the highest-grossing tour of 2012 by Billboard. The tour grossed $305.2 million from 88 sold-out shows, becoming the tenth highest-grossing tour of all time and surpassing Celine Dion's Taking Chances Tour as the second highest-grossing tour among female artists, behind Madonna's own Sticky & Sweet Tour. Madonna broke the record for occupying the top two highest-grossing female tours of all time.[1] Madonna accepted the Top Touring Artist of the year at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards.[2]

A concert special titled Madonna: The MDNA Tour aired on Epix in the United States on June 22 at 8:00 pm ET.[3] The television special documented the November 19 and 20 shows at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, but also included footage from other concert dates.[4] A live album, MDNA World Tour, was released on September 9, 2013.

Background[edit]

Madonna opening the concert with the performance of "Girl Gone Wild".

After performing at Hope for Haiti telethon, MTV News, stated the singer will feature the cast of Glee on the forthcoming tour.[5] The gesture was a show of appreciation for the episode featuring Madonna's hits. This information was later followed by fansite DrownedMadonna releasing a proposed tour itinerary from Live Nation.[6] The report showed the singer playing a stadium-exclusive tour beginning in New Zealand. It also showed dates in Australia, China, Southeast Asia, Europe and North America. Days later, many media outlets around the world posted the itinerary, causing Live Nation to respond to the report's authenticity.[7]

While promoting her first feature film, W.E., Madonna partnered with Smirnoff to produce a global dance contest. Called the "Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project", the contest asked for dancers to submit footage to becoming a dancer on the singer's forthcoming tour.[8] Eleven finalists performed for Madonna and fans at the Roseland Ballroom in November 2011, where Madonna also debuted her new single, "Give Me All Your Luvin'". The winner of the contest was Charles Riley (known as Lil Buck).[9]

Amongst the promotion, many outlets reported news of the tour. Israeli news site Ynet announced that Madonna was in negotiations to perform in Tel Aviv in May 2012.[10] Additionally, the Evening Standard confirmed a show at Hyde Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics.[11] Reports from Turkish newspaper Radikal showed the singer was in negotiations to perform in Abu Dhabi.[12] Madonna's manager, Guy Oseary confirmed the tour on his Twitter account in December 2011. He also stated South Africa was a possibility following the success of the U2 concerts.[13]

The tour was officially announced on February 7, 2012, following the singer's performance at the Super Bowl XLVI Bridgestone Halftime Show.[14] The tour is expected to have 90 performances, becoming Madonna's longest tour to date. In March 2012, the singer used social networks to promote the forthcoming tour and album.[15] On Twitter, the official title of the tour was announced.[16] The concert tickets range in price from around $45 to more than $350. The average ticket price was $138. Some premium-priced ticket packages run $600 per person.[17] Receiving complaints that her live shows are too expensive, Madonna told Newsweek: "Start saving your pennies now. People spend $300 on crazy things all the time, things like handbags. So work all year, scrape the money together and come to my show. I'm worth it."[18]

The tour was also set to see Madonna perform in Australia for the first time in 20 years in January 2013 as confirmed by head of Live Nation Touring, Arthur Fogel. Stadium dates in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth were planned, ready to be announced in July 2012, but were cancelled for reasons unspecified which lead to a huge backlash from fans in Australia after Madonna skipped the country for her fifth consecutive tour in a row, causing Madonna on August 26, 2012, to release an audio video on YouTube apologizing to her Australian fans and revealed that she could not spend more time away from her children and plans to perform in Australia in the near future.[19]

Development[edit]

Madonna performing "Gang Bang" during the Trangsression segment of the tour. For this performance she appeared on a moving motel room.

The first rehearsals began in February 2012 in New York City. The rehearsals on a real stage began May 1, 2012 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The triangle-shaped stage of the tour consists of two walkways for Madonna to wade into the crowd and an enclosed area ("The Golden Triangle") where selected fans can get close to the stage. There is also a huge, three-part video screen that promoters have called the largest in the world.[20] The tour was initially planned to start in Tel Aviv, Israel on May 29, 2012, but was rescheduled to May 31 due to production delays.[21] During a Facebook chat with Jimmy Fallon, Madonna announced the first section of the show is "pretty violent" and she would utilize slacklining in one performance.[22] Madonna reunites with her long-time designer Jean Paul Gaultier to create the costumes for the tour. She stated, "[Gaultier is] kind of godfathering the costumes for a section of my show, with all my dancers. I'm really happy he's doing it, because he's such a genius." Madonna also works with designers Arianne Phillips and Givenchy's Riccardo Tisci.[23]

Concert synopsis[edit]

Madonna and her dancers wearing majorette-inspired outfits performing "Give Me All Your Luvin'" during the concert in Berlin, Germany.

Madonna described the central theme of the show as a journey from darkness to light. The show was divided into four sections: Transgression, Prophecy, Masculine/Feminine and Redemption. It began with a cathedral setting, with the Kalakan trio doing religious chanting that morphs into Madonna's name. The dancers dressed in red robes are seen pulling a rope that rings a bell and are seen pushing a giant thurible. The middle screen splits into two, revealing a silhouette of Madonna in a "glass confession box" praying. She stands up holding a rifle and "breaks" the glass, revealing herself dressed in a tight black suit and starts singing Girl Gone Wild. She is accompanied by her dancers who are wearing outfits similar to that in the music video. The show continues with "Revolver" with Madonna's female dancers accompanying her with automatic rifles and Lil' Wayne being featured in the video backdrops.[24] After the song, "Gang Bang" is performed in a motel setting where Madonna is seen shooting the male dancers who infiltrate her room with blood being splattered on the backdrops. A minimal version of "Papa Don't Preach" follows in which her dancers dressed in army pants, boots and masks tie her up, leading into "Hung Up" where Madonna utilizes slacklining while her dancers slide under the ropes. Madonna closes the first section performing "I Don't Give A" on guitar while Nicki Minaj is seen in the backdrops sitting on a throne. The first video interlude features various tombstones and a man walking through a cemetery while a mashup of "Best Friend" and "Heartbeat" is performed. The next section kicks off with Madonna dressed as a majorette while performing "Express Yourself" with a baton. The song, which features lyrical interpolations from Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" and "She's Not Me" from Madonna's 2008 album Hard Candy,[25] breaks down with the Just Blaze Remix of "Give Me All Your Luvin'" with a marching band that is suspended from the air while Madonna and her female dancers dance with pompoms are dressed as cheerleaders. A short video interlude follows featuring Madonna's previous hits which then leads into "Turn Up the Radio" with Madonna on guitar wearing a leather dress and a black beret. "Open Your Heart" is performed next with the Kalakan trio being formally introduced to the audience with "Sagarra Jo" intertwined with the song. The segment ends with "Masterpiece" with clips from W.E. displayed on the screens.

The second video interlude is a new remixed version of "Justify My Love" by William Orbit featuring a film noir of Madonna locking herself in a room after being chased by masked dancers and indulging in her sexual fantasies. The third section begins with "Vogue" in which Madonna donned a reinvented cone bra designed by Jean Paul Gaultier along with her dancers wearing black avant-garde dresses. A sensual version of "Candy Shop" is performed next with snippets of "Erotica" integrated into the number. After the song, Madonna moves into "Human Nature" while removing articles of clothing as shifting mirrors move around the stage. "Like a Virgin" is performed next with a pianist playing "Evgeni's Waltz" while a shirtless dancer puts a corset on Madonna and pulls the strings while she feigns she is out of breath. The segment ends with an acoustic version of "Love Spent", after being added to the setlist on September 20. In this song, Madonna is seen picking up and throwing money before descending underneath the stage with the pianist. The final video interlude features a remixed version of "Nobody Knows Me", in a collage-like political and economic film with Madonna singing. The video gives tribute to teens who took their lives after being bullied and harassed. "I'm Addicted" opens the final section with Madonna dressed in a Joan d'Arc-inspired outfit, along with her dancers dressed in shaolin-inspired clothing.[26] The following song, "I'm a Sinner", features Madonna on guitar and wearing garlands of flowers while the backdrops feature a train travelling through India, along with elements of "Cyber-Raga". A modernized version of "Like a Prayer", with an introduction of "De Treville-n azken hitzak" performed by the Kalakan trio, follows with her dancers as a church choir, with Hebrew writings displayed in the backdrops.[27] Madonna returns to the stage for the final song, "Celebration", with her and her dancers wearing Beats by Dre and acting as disc jockeys, with colored 3-D cubes falling in the backdrops. Excerpts of "Give It 2 Me" were interpolated into the song starting on October 30.

Critical reception[edit]

Madonna opening the Masculine/Feminine segment of the show with the performance of "Vogue". For this performance she wore a modernized version of the infamous cone bra designed by Jean Paul Gaultier

The MDNA Tour has received mostly positive reviews. A journalist from The Jerusalem Post described the show in Tel Aviv as an "assault on the senses". He further comments, "Despite the confused ideas underlying the performance, it’s difficult to imagine somebody not enjoying a Madonna concert. Say what you will about the Kabbalah-studying, gun-toting, fashionista of pop music – and everyone has something to say – but the woman knows how to put on a good show".[28] Jon Parales from The New York Times wrote that "the concert is a display of energy and nutty inventiveness, with Madonna costumed as everything from baton twirler to folk dancer", adding that it "is less a story than an excellent excuse for extravagant, perpetually surprising production numbers involving more than three dozen performers, while it turns some of Madonna’s past hits inside out."[29] New York Daily News called the show "an idea-intensive, message-packed riddle wrapped in an enigma that must be seen to be believed," arguing that the show's risky artistry "deserves praise."[30] German newspaper Berliner Morgenpost wrote: "Madonna live in 2012 is still magical and unmatched," [31] Newspaper El País said "Madonna shows her intelligence, femininity and elegance in a danceable and spectacular show,"[31][32] Shirley Halperin from The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "With three decades of superstardom under her belt, Madonna has pretty much perfected the art of mass entertainment with a hint of scandal. So it should come as no surprise, even in the Holy Land, that her show would open with a giant cross, the clang of a church bell and cloaked clergymen"; while the show was given a positive review, the fact that the tour contains many songs from the MDNA album was criticized.[33] Saeed Saeed from The National states the performance in Abu Dhabi saw Madonna "bearing her soul". He says, "While her previous Sticky and Sweet tour saw her lightly poking fun at herself and her various musical guises throughout the years, this concert was at times brutally dark and suffocating and as much an emotional exorcism as a performance".[34]

Ingo Schmidt from WDR 2 gave a positive review of the show in Cologne, Germany. Calling Madonna "provocative and sexy", he writes: "Madonna has substantiated her claim to the title of "Queen of Pop" and that "she surprised her enthusiastic audience erotically and provocatively." He also noted that "she dominates even after 30 years on stage." [35] Neil McCormick from The Daily Telegraph assessed the concert, assigning it 4 out of 5 stars, and wrote, "[t]he real highlight of this show was a stripped back version of 'Like a Virgin'... Madonna proved herself more than equal to be challenge of all her young pretenders".[27] Kat Keogh from Birmingham Mail gave a positive review at the performance in Birmingham. Giving the performance 4 out of 5 stars, she reveals: "Thousands of fans gave a regal welcome as her Madgesty took the stage", that "the pure theatre of her performance was enough to sustain the 11,000 strong audience" and "the feel good classics proved why the 53 year old is the original and the best."[36] Madonna's performance in Edinburgh also received generally positive reviews. Beverley Lyons from Daily Record stated: "Madonna's still in Vogue with fans" and "this was a remarkable show – and a night when we saw a softer side to the Queen of Pop."[37]

Madonna's sold out performance in Zurich, Switzerland also received positive reviews. Critics praised the show stating: "Madonna makes Swiss fans happy again four years after the Sticky & Sweet Tour. They also noted how "the pop-giantess delivered a perfectly choreographed show, leaving space for political messages" and "Madonna's achievements in the music industry not negotiable." [38] Madonna's performances in the United States have been met with critical acclaim. During her performance in Philadelphia, Glenn Gamboa from Newsday wrote that "her latest reinvention might be her most revealing yet" because "her wild, nearly two-hour show is closest to reflecting her current state of mind, while building yet another artistic, well-choreographed slacklining spectacle."[39] Marc-André Lemieux from Le Journal de Montréal gave a positive view of her performance in Montreal, writing: "the indestructible icon has proposed a concert sometimes dark, sometimes light, but always entertaining and challenging" and commenting that the show is "a fascinating exercise that reflects the journey of a pop singer who has reached her full artistic maturity."[40] Ottawa Citizen named her "[a]n entertainer who, admittedly, outdoes all her imitators and progeny when it comes to dancefloor pop – a point made clear when she slyly incorporated Lady Gaga’s "Born This Way" into "Express Yourself". And such hits as "Like a Prayer", sung near the end of the set, might even have been a religious experience for some 16,000 adoring fans" in Montreal.[41]

Sarah Rodman from Boston Globe praised her performance in Boston at the TD Garden writing: "the truly, remarkably indefatigable pop superstar powered her way through a performance just shy of two hours and heavy on the razzle dazzle but light on hits" also noting how Madonna "remains impressively fleet of foot, dancing nearly non-stop, and when she sang live, perfectly competent of voice, even if the mix didn’t always do her favors and her crew was impressive." [42] Hardeep Phull from the New York Post acclaimed her performance in Yankee Stadium, writing: "the shock-and-awe tactics have been a staple of her 30-year career, but right now they seem to be an especially savvy move" and that the show "remains a master class in performance and spectacle."[43] Chris Cobb from Ottawa Citizen called the performance in Ottawa: "a Broadway show on wheels" and writing: "in a sense it doesn’t really matter what songs Madonna chooses to sing because the spectacle, with all its bells and whistles, is all."[44] Stephanie IP from The Province commented on her performance in Vancouver, writing: "the Queen of Pop continued to reign supreme on the Vancouver stop of her worldwide tour" and "the effect Madge has had on paving the way for female artists and fans is incomparable."[45] Madonna's performance in Seattle was met again with critical acclaim. Andrew Matson and Sharon Pian Chan from The Seattle Times both praised her performance with Matson writing: "The middle-aged Queen of Pop kicked off her concert by simulating a killing spree, complete with audiovisual effects. And it was some show: Two hours of hits from a remarkable career, with high-budget sets and intricate choreography" and Chan writing: "There is only one word to say after Madonna's extravaganza, spectacle and concert Tuesday night: Respect. Madonna tore it up on the dance floor at the age of 54."[46][47]

Mario Tarradell from The Dallas Morning News gave a positive review for her performance in Dallas writing: "The Material Girl then proceeded to take us through a song cycle that examined sex, liberation, sin, empowerment, love, addiction, rebellion and finally redemption, and she did it all in classic Madonna style – controversial and eye-popping."[48] Mark Kemp from Creative Loafing gave a positive review for her performance in Atlanta writing: "Madonna has continued to grow, not just as a musical performer but as a musical stage actor, deconstructionist and reconstructionist. Her MDNA Tour is not a concert — it's a theater event, complete with concepts and routines that range from well-thought-out to somewhat abstruse. The singer is as committed as ever to making statements and being provocative — that's her stock-in-trade, after all — and her non-hit material is every bit as adventurous and challenging as any of her hits. More so, in many cases."[49] Jordan Levin from Miami.com wrote: "Madonna’s sold-out concert at the American Airlines Arena Monday night was a jaw-dropping sequence of stunningly designed set pieces; including an aerial drum corps, a battalion of dazzling dancers, an explosively bloody gangster fantasy and a surreal spiritual voyage. But the tireless woman at its center, taut and confident as ever at 54, was just as riveting stripped down to lingerie and singing alone with a pianist."[50] The performances in Mexico City also received positive reaction. Ricardo Hernández from El Occidental wrote: "Madonna returned to Foro Sol in Mexico City, managing to gather 50,000 fans approximately where she gave a performance that captivated her fans."[51]

Madonna's performances in Medellin were met with overwhelmingly positive reception. Many dubbed the events as both "historic" and "unprecedented."[52] Medellin's second largest newspaper El Mundo said the two-hour concert "fulfilled all expectations."[53]

Dean Piper writing for Daily Mirror gave the show four out of five stars, criticizing the choice of venue and sound quality, but praising the general concert.[54] Warren Manger for Coventry Telegraph reported "technical difficulties" at her show at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham but called it "both compelling and spectacular".[55] Fiona Shepherd writing for The Scotsman gave her performance in the Murryfield Stadium, Edinburgh 4 out of 5 stars, pointing out that the show was "cynically choreographed to revisit key Madonna themes and imagery."[56] Vogue Italia's Giulia Blasi reviewed the show as "huge, spectacular, often slightly tacky, obviously expensive" and blamed "the poor quality of the sound for anyone not standing directly in front of the stage", noting "suspiciously pristine vocals in the middle of very choreography-heavy songs."[57]

Madonna and her back-up singers perform "Like a Prayer" during the show's final segment

The performance in Hyde Park received some lukewarm reviews by some major British papers. John Aizlewood from Evening Standard wrote that Madonna left "Hyde Park crowds confused and bored by dreary set and low volume" and several reviewers noted the spotty and cursory treatment of her older hits.[58] The Independent wrote that the tour "goes off with a whimper, not a bang".[59] Natalie Shaw writing for The Arts Desk wrote that the "MDNA tour finds Madge disastrously sapping the joy out of even her most triumphant choruses."[60] Michael Hubbard from musicOMH rated the concert 2.5 out of five stars, noting that "the vocals are unremarkable at best and auto-tuned to oblivion at worst," calling it "a gig that lacked oomph throughout."[61] Amy Smith from Heineken Music rated her performance at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin 2/5 commenting that Madonna appeared "so visibly half-hearted about it at certain periods of this two-hour set."[62]

Madonna's performance at Paris's Stade de France received mixed to negative reviews. French critics and fans harshly criticised the singer's perceived lack of spontaneity.[63][64] Assma Maad from Le Figaro wrote that the show was "spectacular but disappointing" and that "the staging tends to overshadow the music."[65] Meanwhile, Valentin Spitz (Le Nouvel Observateur) called the show "mechanical and soulless".[66] Monica Heck of Hot Press gave a mixed review of her Dublin show, criticising Madonna's "couple of attempts to fool the public into thinking she is a guitar playing rock chick were brazenly fake" but praising her "steely determination and her commanding presence."[67]

Commercial response[edit]

The final performance of the show, "Celebration", featuring Madonna and her dancers performing on DJ stations

Following the tickets sale opening, the tour created immense success at the box office and many venues were sold out. In Tel Aviv, 33,000 tickets for the first show at Ramat Gan Stadium were selling fast in the months previous to the premiere. Madonna's first ever show in Abu Dhabi had fans lined up in front of the Virgin Megastore for tickets of 24 hours before they went on general sale.[68] All initial 22,000 tickets sold out in record-breaking one hour, prompting the promoter to add the second date there, which in turn sold out within a week.[69][70] In Turkey, 47,000 tickets for the show in Istanbul sold out in four days.[71] In the United States, 60,000 tickets for a show in Yankee Stadium, New York City sold out in 20 minutes, prompting Live Nation to add a second date.[72] Tickets for the show at Sprint Center in Kansas City sold out in 12 minutes, while the show in Houston sold out in less than an hour.[73][74] In Canada, the concert at the Bell Centre sold 16,000 tickets in 20 minutes, along with the show at the Plains of Abraham, selling 65,000 tickets in one hour.[75] In Ottawa, 15,000 tickets for the show in Scotiabank Place sold out in 21 minutes,[76] becoming the fastest-selling concert in the arena's 16-year history, beating out previous record holder AC/DC in 2009.[77] All available tickets for Madonna's first date in Amsterdam sold out in 30 minutes, prompting Live Nation once again to add a second date.[78] Madonna also sold more than 100,000 tickets in two days for three shows in Brazil.[79]

Faced with media claims that the tour was underperforming, Arthur Fogel, chairman of Live Nation Global Touring made an estimate on April 19, 2012 that the tour is on track to be among the Top 10 tours of all time. He also claimed that more than 1.4 million tickets had been already sold, banking about US$228 million for an average US$2.7 million per show in a mix of stadiums and arenas.[80] As of May 10, 2012, Madonna has sold a total of 683,000 tickets in North America for the 36 shows in the United States.[17]

In May 2013, it was announced that Madonna would be honored with the Top Touring Award at the Billboard Music Awards. The Billboard staff wrote that: "the sold-out 88 date run was 2012's top grossing tour with $305 million" and it is "the pop icon's latest chart landmark in a career full of them."[81] Will.i.am presented Madonna with the award.[82]

Controversies[edit]

Madonna performing "I Don't Give A" while playing the guitar during her concert in Milan, Italy.

The show was met with plenty of controversy, from the depiction of the swastika superimposed on the forehead of French politician Marine Le Pen in the "Nobody Knows Me" video interlude to the use of firearms during the first section. Many lawsuits have also been threatened against Madonna for defending LGBT rights in Russia and for supporting the female punk rock band Pussy Riot. Concering the issue in Tel Aviv, Le Pen's far-right political party, Front national, threatened to sue Madonna should she not remove the Nazi symbol from the image's forehead during the third and final video interlude. While performing "Human Nature" in Istabul, Madonna briefly exposed her right breast before covering it up again.[83] The gesture was mostly criticized, but many accepted the stance as a form of feminism and empowerment.

During the performance in Edinburgh, Madonna was urged to remove the use of (fake) firearms from the show due to the 2012 Aurora shooting. Although threatened, Scottish police did not interrupt the show. The singer's camp responded saying, "Madonna would rather cancel her show than censor her art. Her entire career, she has fought against people telling her what she can and cannot do. She’s not about to start listening to them now".[84] The show in Paris at L'Olympia was met with overwhelmingly negative reviews from fans and critics, with most of the criticism centering on the fact that the concert lasted only 45 minutes, even though the tickets had been sold at the same price as for the other MDNA Tour shows and fans hadn't been alerted of the abbreviated format of the show. Responding to the criticism, Madonna's publicist declared that her past club shows "were never more than 45 minutes", adding that the concert was "planned as a heartfelt thank you to France which she expressed at the start of the show" and also, the show cost Madonna nearly $1 million to produce and keeping the prices at $100 involved a "tremendous effort".[85] Madonna's concert in Warsaw was met with criticism from local religious conservatives who demanded her concert to be cancelled on the basis that the singer is against the church, desecrates religious iconography, promotes homosexuality, transsexuality and transvestism and generally displays abnormal and offensive behavior. Organizers ended up showing a brief film on the topic of the Uprising before the concert and only a handful of protesters were seen outside of the venue.[86][87]

Madonna's Russian shows in Moscow and Saint Petersburg were met with great controversy. Asked her stance on the arrest of feminist punk-rock band Pussy Riot, Madonna responded: "I'm against censorship, and my whole career I've always promoted freedom of expression and freedom of speech so I think what's happening to them is unfair. And I hope that they don't have to serve 7 years in jail; that would be a tragedy. I think art should be political, that art, historically speaking, always reflects what's going on socially. So for me it's hard to separate being an artist and being political."[88] During her Moscow show, Madonna gave a speech in support of the band, saying …My dream, and my prayer, is that everyone in the world has the right to express their opinions and still be treated as human beings. I know there are many sides to every story, and I mean no disrespect to the Church, or the government, but I think that these three girls – Nadezhda, Yekaterina, and Maria – have done something courageous. I think that they have paid the price for this act. And I pray for their freedom."[89] The response was largely positive. Many media outlets lauded Madonna's efforts, and other artists joined her in support of the band, among them Yoko Ono, Paul McCartney and Peter Gabriel.[90] Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, however, wrote an expletive-ridden Twitter post lambasting Madonna for backing the band: "With age, every ex-slut tends to lecture everybody on morality. Especially during world tours and concerts."[91] Madonna's second Russian date in Saint Petersburg was consequently met with terrorist threats, prompting the U.S. Embassy to issue a warning to those in attendance.[92] Madonna's spokesperson Liz Rosenberg responded that the concert would go on as scheduled and that Russian authorities would step up security for the date.[92] Following threats of arrest by Russian officials if she spoke in support of gay rights and opposed the recent anti-gay law which prohibits "public actions aimed at propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality, and transgenderism among minors", Madonna responded, on March 21, in a letter on her website saying she was a "freedom fighter" and would defend LGBT rights. Before the show, Madonna released pink wristbands to audience members in support of the LGBT community.[93] In addition, hundreds brought rainbow flags to the show and waved them throughout.

Madonna performing "I'm a Sinner" at the Yankee Stadium, New York City.

Though her speech was met with much praise from the media, on August 17, it was announced that anti-gay Russian campaigners would sue Madonna for $10.4 million, arguing that she was promoting "homosexual propaganda" which was against the law, and allegedly "insulted their feelings when she spoke out for gay rights" at the concert.[94] According to one of the 10 activists who filed the lawsuit, "She (Madonna) had been warned with words that she should behave in line with the law and she ignored it. So we will speak in the language of money… maybe someone does not see the link but after Madonna’s concert maybe some boy becomes gay, some girl becomes lesbian, fewer children are born as a result and this big country cannot defend its borders — for me it causes moral suffering."[95]

At the performance in Nice, Madonna removed the swastika from the video of "Nobody Knows Me" and replaced it with a question mark due to backlash from Marine Le Pen's supporters. A local party supporter Gael Nofri welcomed the change stating: "As far as I know, Madonna has never changed a video clip. This is proof that our arguments were valid. This is excellent news." [96]

Madonna also met controversy while performing in the United States. Madonna created controversy at her performance in Washington D.C. when she urged fans to vote for President Barack Obama and claimed that he is a "Black Muslim" which was largely seen as offensive since President Obama is a Christian and has discussed about his faith in the past. Madonna clarified her statements by saying that she merely being ironic and said “Yes, I know Obama is not a Muslim — though I know that plenty of people in this country think he is. And what if he were? The point I was making is that a good man is a good man, no matter who he prays to. I don’t care what religion Obama is — nor should anyone else in America.”[97] In her Los Angeles performance, Madonna dedicated her performance to Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban for speaking out on her right to have an education. Madonna responded in the concert by saying "This made me cry. The 14-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot on a school bus for writing a blog… who wrote a blog about how important education was to her. The Taliban stopped her bus and shot her… Do you understand the sickness and absurdity of this?" Madonna went on to shout, "Support education! Support the people who support women!" Madonna showed the audience a written tattoo on her back with Malala's name on it.[98]

Broadcasts and recordings[edit]

Initially, the filming of the concert was planned for the shows in Colombia, but due to conflicts with the directors' schedule, those shows were not filmed.[99] Instead, Madonna announced on her Facebook page that the November 19 and 20 shows in Miami, at the American Airlines Arena, will be filmed for the upcoming tour DVD and Blu-ray release.[100] The concert film was directed by Stéphane Sennour and Danny Tull, who also directed the YouTube broadcast of the Olympia show MDNA à l'Olympia and Inside the DNA of MDNA tour documentary.[101] For the Miami shows, Madonna partnered with Vyclone.com for the MDNA Film Project and asked those attending to film "Give Me All Your Luvin'" with their phones from their perspective and upload it to the Vyclone website using their app. In return they would receive a muilti-angle film of the song.[102][103] On May 9, 2013, Madonna's official website announced that concert special Madonna: The MDNA Tour will premiere on Epix on June 22, 2013.[104] In June, it was announced a video album, MDNA World Tour, was released on DVD and Blu-ray in September 2013.[105]

Other recordings[edit]

The performance on July 26, 2012 at L'Olympia in Paris was streamed online via LoveLive's YouTube channel, directed by Stéphane Sennour and Danny Tull.[106] Toby L, Creative Director of the channel commented that they were "beyond elated to be hosting a global stream of one of the world's most iconic artists in such a unique and intimate circumstance which will bring our audience closer than ever to Madonna".[107] A post stream of the show was also available to watch. The show consisted of nine songs, including the official tour setlist from "Turn Up the Radio" to "Human Nature" with two other songs, "Beautiful Killer" with elements from "Die Another Day", and "Je t'aime... moi non plus", a cover of the song by Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin.[107] On August 6, a Director's Cut version of the show was available to watch via LoveLive's YouTube channel.

It was reported that talk-show host Conan O'Brien and his show, Conan would film a documentary special for the opening concert in Tel Aviv. The special would feature backstage interviews along with four performances from the show.[108][109] However, the aired segment featured comedian Billy Eichner asking random people in New York City, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem about their excitement for Madonna's performance. Snippets of the opening monologue, "Girl Gone Wild," "Express Yourself," "Give Me All Your Luvin'," and "Turn Up the Radio" were shown.[110] An additional segment aired in July 2012. It featured Eichner asking people Madonna-related facts, followed by him interrupting the soundcheck at Yankee Stadium. After Madonna kicked him offstage, he returned during the soundcheck of "Celebration," only to be taunted by Madonna.

Set list[edit]

  1. "Virgin Mary" (Intro) (contains elements from "Psalm 91" and "Birjina Gaztetto Bat Zegoen")
  2. "Girl Gone Wild" (contains elements from "Material Girl" and "Give It 2 Me")
  3. "Revolver"
  4. "Gang Bang"
  5. "Papa Don't Preach"
  6. "Hung Up" (contains elements of "Girl Gone Wild")
  7. "I Don't Give A"
  8. "Best Friend" (Video Interlude) (contains elements from "Heartbeat")
  9. "Express Yourself" (contains elements from "Born This Way" and "She's Not Me")
  10. "Give Me All Your Luvin'"
  11. "Radio Dial Static Medley" (Video Interlude) (contains excerpts from "Holiday", "Into the Groove", "Lucky Star", "Like a Virgin", "4 Minutes", "Ray of Light", and "Music")
  12. "Turn Up the Radio"
  13. "Open Your Heart" (contains excerpts from "Sagarra Jo")
  14. "Masterpiece"
  15. "Justify My Love" (Video Interlude)
  16. "Vogue"
  17. "Erotic Candy Shop" (contains elements from "Candy Shop", "Ashamed of Myself", and "Erotica")
  18. "Human Nature"
  19. "Like a Virgin Waltz" (contains elements from "Like a Virgin" and "Evgeni's Waltz")
  20. "Love Spent" (contains elements of "Like a Virgin Waltz" and the acoustic version)
  21. "Nobody Knows Me" (Video Interlude)
  22. "I'm Addicted"
  23. "I'm a Sinner" (contains elements from "Cyberraga")
  24. "Like a Prayer" (contains elements from "De Treville-n Azken Hitzak")
  25. "Celebration" (contains elements from "Girl Gone Wild" and "Give It 2 Me")

Setlist per official DVD Tracklisting.[111][112]

Shows[edit]

List of concerts, showing date, city, country, venue, opening act, tickets sold, amount of available tickets and gross revenue
Date City Country Venue Opening act Attendance Revenue
Europe & Asia[119][120]
May 31, 2012 Tel Aviv Israel Ramat Gan Stadium Martin Solveig
Offer Nissim
33,457 / 33,457 $4,339,876
June 3, 2012 Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates du Arena Benny Benassi 45,722 / 45,722 $8,053,500
June 4, 2012
June 7, 2012 Istanbul Turkey Türk Telekom Arena Offer Nissim 47,789 / 47,789 $6,219,598
June 12, 2012 Rome Italy Stadio Olimpico Martin Solveig 36,658 / 36,658 $2,835,542
June 14, 2012 Milan San Siro 53,244 / 53,244 $5,624,570
June 16, 2012 Florence Stadio Artemio Franchi 42,434 / 42,434 $4,252,680
June 20, 2012 Barcelona Spain Palau Sant Jordi 33,178 / 33,178 $3,893,274
June 21, 2012
June 24, 2012 Coimbra Portugal Estádio Cidade de Coimbra 33,597 / 33,597 $3,156,022
June 28, 2012 Berlin Germany O2 World Berlin 25,481 / 25,481 $3,679,378
June 30, 2012
July 2, 2012 Copenhagen Denmark Parken Stadium 29,416 / 29,416 $2,980,465
July 4, 2012 Gothenburg Sweden Ullevi 36,472 / 36,472 $4,510,807
July 7, 2012 Amsterdam Netherlands Ziggo Dome 29,172 / 29,172 $3,777,245
July 8, 2012
July 10, 2012 Cologne Germany Lanxess Arena 14,489 / 14,489 $1,775,841
July 12, 2012 Brussels Belgium Stade Roi Baudouin 36,778 / 36,778 $3,676,447
July 14, 2012 Saint-Denis France Stade de France 62,195 / 62,195 $7,195,799
July 17, 2012 London England Hyde Park LMFAO
Martin Solveig
54,140 / 54,140 $6,714,027
July 19, 2012 Birmingham National Indoor Arena Alesso 11,684 / 11,684 $1,998,196
July 21, 2012 Edinburgh Scotland Murrayfield Stadium 52,160 / 52,160 $4,974,731
July 24, 2012 Dublin Ireland Aviva Stadium 33,953 / 33,953 $3,175,497
July 26, 2012 Paris France L'Olympia N/A 2,576 / 2,576 $346,653
July 29, 2012 Vienna Austria Ernst-Happel-Stadion Martin Solveig 33,250 / 33,250 $1,953,791
August 1, 2012 Warsaw Poland National Stadium Paul Oakenfold 38,699 / 38,699 $2,933,410
August 4, 2012 Kiev Ukraine Olympic Stadium Sebastian Ingrosso 31,022 / 31,022 $4,893,317
August 7, 2012 Moscow Russia Olimpiyskiy Alesso 19,842 / 19,842 $4,074,400
August 9, 2012 Saint Petersburg SKK Peterburgsky 19,079 / 19,079 $2,683,569
August 12, 2012 Helsinki Finland Helsinki Olympic Stadium Martin Solveig 42,760 / 42,760 $5,589,900
August 15, 2012 Bærum Norway Telenor Arena CLMD 18,631 / 18,631 $3,017,871
August 18, 2012 Zurich Switzerland Letzigrund Martin Solveig 37,792 / 37,792 $4,989,192
August 21, 2012 Nice France Stade Charles-Ehrmann LMFAO 29,670 / 29,670 $2,386,311
North America[119][121]
August 28, 2012 Philadelphia United States Wells Fargo Center Laidback Luke 15,741 / 15,741 $2,651,855
August 30, 2012 Montreal Canada Bell Centre Martin Solveig 16,918 / 16,918 $3,457,482
September 1, 2012 Quebec Plains of Abraham Paul Oakenfold 70,569 / 70,569 $8,098,292
September 4, 2012 Boston United States TD Garden N/A 13,995 / 13,995 $2,450,720
September 6, 2012 New York City Yankee Stadium Avicii 79,775 / 79,775 $12,599,540
September 8, 2012
September 10, 2012 Ottawa Canada Scotiabank Place Paul Oakenfold 14,422 / 14,422 $2,371,994
September 12, 2012 Toronto Air Canada Centre 32,557 / 32,557 $7,458,188
September 13, 2012
September 15, 2012 Atlantic City United States Boardwalk Hall 12,207 / 12,207 $2,891,340
September 19, 2012 Chicago United Center 28,143 / 28,143 $5,102,880
September 20, 2012
September 23, 2012 Washington, D.C. Verizon Center Benny Benassi 27,944 / 27,944 $4,860,428
September 24, 2012
September 29, 2012 Vancouver Canada Rogers Arena Martin Solveig 28,500 / 28,500 $4,758,994
September 30, 2012
October 2, 2012 Seattle United States KeyArena 23,651 / 23,651 $3,723,405
October 3, 2012
October 6, 2012 San Jose HP Pavilion at San Jose MiSha Skye
Martin Solveig
25,907 / 25,907 $4,791,285
October 7, 2012
October 10, 2012 Los Angeles Staples Center Martin Solveig 29,015 / 29,015 $6,162,835
October 11, 2012
October 13, 2012 Paradise MGM Grand Garden Arena 24,991 / 24,991 $7,188,879
October 14, 2012
October 16, 2012 Phoenix US Airways Center MiSha Skye 13,239 / 13,239 $2,389,060
October 18, 2012 Denver Pepsi Center 13,280 / 13,280 $2,135,835
October 21, 2012 Dallas American Airlines Center Benny Benassi 14,360 / 14,360 $2,329,690
October 24, 2012 Houston Toyota Center Martin Solveig 24,797 / 24,797 $4,390,355
October 25, 2012
October 27, 2012 New Orleans New Orleans Arena Paul Oakenfold 14,498 / 14,498 $2,261,515
October 30, 2012 Kansas City Sprint Center 14,108 / 14,108 $2,366,220
November 1, 2012 St. Louis Scottrade Center 16,022 / 16,022 $2,449,110
November 3, 2012 Saint Paul Xcel Energy Center 26,084 / 26,084 $4,229,005
November 4, 2012
November 6, 2012 Pittsburgh Consol Energy Center 14,120 / 14,120 $2,358,670
November 8, 2012 Detroit Joe Louis Arena 13,716 / 13,716 $1,833,154
November 10, 2012 Cleveland Quicken Loans Arena 16,487 / 16,487 $2,546,780
November 12, 2012 New York City Madison Square Garden Martin Solveig 24,790 / 24,790 $4,846,665
November 13, 2012
November 15, 2012 Charlotte Time Warner Cable Arena 13,817 / 13,817 $2,208,180
November 17, 2012 Atlanta Philips Arena Paul Oakenfold 13,504 / 13,504 $2,379,792
November 19, 2012 Miami American Airlines Arena 27,976 / 27,976 $5,241,125
November 20, 2012
November 24, 2012 Mexico City Mexico Foro Sol 84,382 / 84,382 $11,586,745
November 25, 2012
South America[119][122]
November 28, 2012 Medellín Colombia Estadio Atanasio Girardot Paul Oakenfold 90,018 / 90,018 $14,741,104
November 29, 2012
December 2, 2012 Rio de Janeiro Brazil Parque dos Atletas Felguk 34,709 / 34,709 $4,332,428
December 4, 2012 São Paulo Estádio do Morumbi Gui Boratto 85,255 / 85,255 $8,430,677
December 5, 2012
December 9, 2012 Porto Alegre Estádio Olímpico Monumental Fabrício Peçanha 42,524 / 42,524 $7,578,191
December 13, 2012 Buenos Aires Argentina River Plate Stadium Laidback Luke 89,226 / 89,226 $10,820,041
December 15, 2012
December 19, 2012 Santiago Chile Estadio Nacional Julio Martínez Prádanos 47,625 / 47,625 $3,867,601
December 22, 2012 Córdoba Argentina Estadio Mario Alberto Kempes Laidback Luke
Facu Carri
48,133 / 48,133 $5,566,393
TOTAL 2,212,345 / 2,212,345 (100%) $305,158,362

Cancelled and rescheduled shows[edit]

List of cancelled and rescheduled concerts, showing date, city, country, venue and reason
Date City Country Venue Reason
May 29, 2012 Tel Aviv Israel Ramat Gan Stadium Rescheduled to May 31, 2012[21]
June 11, 2012 Zagreb Croatia Stadion Maksimir Cancelled due to scheduling conflicts[123]
October 20, 2012 Dallas United States American Airlines Center Cancelled due to severe laryngitis[124]
December 1, 2012 Rio de Janeiro Brazil Parque dos Atletas Rescheduled to December 2, 2012[125]

Personnel[edit]

Sources:[126][127]

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  122. ^ South American box score data:
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