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New BBC.com Interview: Madonna: 'I want to reinvent pop tours'

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http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-41269047

Twenty-seven years ago, Madonna set the template for modern pop concerts with her Blond Ambition world tour.

From its hydraulic stage to Jean-Paul Gaultier's iconic costumes, it raised the bar for stadium-sized spectacle.

Now, after seven huge world tours, the star tells the BBC she's "exploring" a smaller-scale show in the future.

"I've done so many shows - world tours, stadiums, sports arenas, you name it - that I feel like I have to reinvent that now too," she explains.

"I like doing intimate shows and being able to talk directly to the audience.

"This is something I'm exploring right now: the idea of doing a show that doesn't travel the world, but stays in one place and utilises not only humour and the music in a more intimate setting but other people's music, as well, and other entertainment.

"Kind of a revolving door of amazing, gifted, unique talent - dancers, musicians, singers, comedians, me, humour. I don't know! Like, I'm trying to come up with all those ideas now."

Image caption Madonna's Tears of a Clown show could be the template for her next tour

The concerts will presumably owe much to the vaudeville-style Tears of a Clown show that Madonna performed twice in 2016 - once as a gift to fans in Australia, and again at a fundraiser for her Raising Malawi charity.

The low-key gigs featured the pop icon dressed as a clown, riding a tricycle, chatting to the audience and telling jokes when not performing stripped-back renditions of some of her favourite songs.

Footage of the Australian concert appears on the star's new DVD, released on Friday, which documents her 2015-16 Rebel Heart Tour.

In an exclusive interview with BBC News, she talked about touring life, changing attitudes to sex, and her recent dispute with a courier company...

 

Before we start, there's one thing I need to know: Did your FedEx package ever arrive?

Ha ha! Yes, it has. FedEx is blaming customs, customs is blaming FedEx and we'll never know what happened. But I have it now.

So, I saw the Rebel Heart tour when you were in London and the DVD does a really good job of capturing what it was like to be in the audience. How do you go about that?

I was there every step of the way, every day for months and months. It's really hard to capture the true feeling of the excitement and the passion and the heat and the blood, sweat and tears. I'm pleased with the way it came out.

There's a particularly touching sequence during True Blue, where everybody in the audience embraces each other.

I know, it's a very sweet, emotional moment in the show. I didn't expect it to be, but when I look back at the DVD it almost brings a tear to my eye because everyone seems so in love.

Image caption The Rebel Heart tour featured Samurai, matadors and a finale in a 1920s-style Parisian cafe

How do you put a show like this together? Where do you get the ideas?

Everything's based around my song choice. So first, I go through my catalogue of songs with my band and I start working on things that excite me and inspire me in the moment. Some songs I'm sick of doing and I don't want to do them. Other songs I say, "No, I did that on the last tour, I don't want to do it again."

So I try to rotate things and I also try to reflect my current mood and what I've been feeling, and what's been inspiring me artistically or filmically, politically, philosophically. I try to put songs together in groups that have thematic connection, and then I try to tell a story. And then I do the visuals. It's quite a process.

What are the songs you don't want to do again?

Well, I tend to not want to do the songs I did on the tour before. That's what I mean. So if I did Material Girl on the tour before, or Express Yourself on the tour before, then I'll say, "OK, I did that for 88 shows. I can't do it again."

How do you keep a healthy balance between new songs and your back catalogue?

It's just playing in rehearsal. It's really hard for me, especially with my older songs, to do them with the original arrangement. Because 33 years later, after doing it for so long, you just have to reinvent things. Well, I do.

And it's fun for me to take an '80s pop song and turn it into a salsa song, or turn it into a samba, or make an uptempo song into a ballad.

Image caption The Blond Ambition tour changed how many people think about pop concerts

The overarching theme of the tour was being a rebel. In the intro you say, "when fascist dictators come for you dressed as righteous men" you have to rise up and take a stand.

If you were doing the tour against the current political backdrop, would that message feel more relevant?

Yeah, I created that voiceover for my short film Secret Project,. I feel like it was a foreshadowing of things to come, like a prophecy.

You felt something in the air?

I did then - and I think people all thought I was being a little bit dramatic and extreme, but I felt like I was witnessing the beginning of it on the tour previous [to Rebel Heart]. And, of course, look what's happening in the world right now. It's pretty crazy.

Twenty-seven years ago, the Pope tried to get one of your shows banned. Now you have pole-dancing nuns and nobody bats an eyelid. Is that progress?

Is it progress? Well, I guess in some ways you could call that progress. When I released my Sex book, the idea of someone being scantily-clad on the street was an outrage. But look at social media today and it's nothing.

People get used to things, but I wouldn't call that progress. What I think of as progress is people becoming more open-minded, and people understanding the difference between art and exploitation.

Image caption Madonna has always played with religious iconography in her shows

When I was banned by the Pope, I was playing with the ideas of religion and sexuality, which are usually kept completely apart. Sex is considered a sin in the Catholic church. And I was questioning that and challenging that point of view because I don't, obviously, agree with it.

So now that no one's batting an eyelash about nuns on the stripper poles, it doesn't mean that the Vatican or the Catholic church is soul-searching or investigating whether they made the right choices. I don't think people are thinking that maybe sexuality and God don't need to be separate. That, to me, would be progress.

The DVD also includes the Tears of a Clown show you did in Melbourne. Was that a one-off or a trial run for a different type of Madonna concert?

I like doing intimate shows and being able to talk directly to the audience; to play with them and use humour and pathos and truth, and share my life - and also make up stories. I like the freedom of it and I like the intimacy of it, and I would like to explore doing it more in the future.

Maybe a residency?

Yeah, a residency. If I look back at the Rebel Heart tour, my favourite [part] was really the last section where I got to just sit on the stage and play my ukulele and sing La Vie en Rose and talk to the audience. [It was] just more intimate. More audience participation and connecting to human beings - I feel I'm craving that more and more.

Image caption The pop singer played more than 80 shows on her Rebel Heart tour

Did it feel like there was more room for improvisation in that section?

Yeah, I have freedom and I can make mistakes. That's another thing I do in Tears of a Clown - if I start a song off wrong and I make a boo-boo, I just turn around and go "Stop! Let's start again!"

When you're doing a sports arena show, you're linked up to video, you can't stop. Once the train leaves the station, you have to keep going.

There's a certain kind of adrenalin rush to that - but there's no room for error. So I like the idea of mistakes and freestyling. Free-falling, really. It's more exciting to me right now.

Madonna: Rebel Heart Tour is out now on DVD, CD and Blu-Ray and via digital retailers.

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she can do surprise shows when she feels like it like prince did. residency is probably something the manager put in her mind so he can get a good deal. 

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52 minutes ago, anastaza said:

What are the songs you don't want to do again?

Well, I tend to not want to do the songs I did on the tour before. That's what I mean. So if I did Material Girl on the tour before, or Express Yourself on the tour before, then I'll say, "OK, I did that for 88 shows. I can't do it again."

#CandyShop

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I get her point of view, I imagine this like a variety show/residency

I’ll be here for a Madonna residency in NYC at the Hammerstein Ballroom or some theater in Broadway.

She can have a different guest singer in each show for a few songs or covers and in this way she’s more relaxed and we enjoy her more intimately.

We need to take in account that she’s almost 60, she doesn’t have anything else to prove and she’s mother of 6 kids, and she’s a single mom so the kids need more stability.

Also when I think of older woman than M touring it’s just:

-Cher 71 years - Currently on a residency, no kids.

-Tina Tuner 69 years (when she last toured)

-Debbie  Harry 71 years - Single and no kids, nothing to lose.

 

So if M wants to try something more intimate for the next show let her do it, we know her and in a few years she will miss touring worldwide and the big audiences.

Also I think that there’s the ‘obligated’ stadium tour for the farewell.

Maybe the residency could be 2 months in NYC, then 1 in London and maybe one week in Paris or something like that.

I love that she’s inspired and still looking for a reinvention, it’s true that the residencies become boring, imagine Britney, JLo or Celine performing over and over and over the same setlist with a few changes and the same routines, meh.

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I think she is right

she has toured extensively the workd for more than a decade, its just not a challenge for her anymore

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I have no doubt Madonna will do another large scale world tour but for the next era if she wants to try her hand at smaller more intimate venues I am here for that. 

I also get chills when she talks about her secret project.  I always said how looking back it's prophetic as hell and it makes me so fucking proud of her that someone that stands with a minor few when it comes to those at the highest levels of fame is still so plugged into everyday issues.  Most people would be so insulted in their massive fame bubble they wouldn't have a clue about the world around them anymore. 

Goddamn she is a one of a kind.

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It probably just means 5 intimate theater shows in NYC. :lmao: 

She has talked about this since 2015.

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i so so want her to do this! it would be perfect for her. 

i instantly thought of vegas but i love the sound of somewhere else. i hope somewhere else. everyone does vegas. 

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1 hour ago, danMfan said:

#CandyShop

Yep she performed candy shop on three consecutive tours,  so it seems like it's still one of her few songs she's willing to repeat & torture the fan base with.:britwtf:

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It's a nice idea but it sucks that almost nobody here would get to attend any of those shows. :cries: She'd have to do like 687 shows to meet demand. And omg the ticket prices would be much higher! :scared: Bruce Springsteen is doing a 4 month residency in NYC soon at a 1000-seat theater and it's impossible to get tickets. FACE VALUE for those tickets are $850 each. This show is 100x more difficult to go see than Hamilton in NYC was at its peak madness.

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I don't know how I feel about it, it would be ecstatic and amazing to be in a very small venue with her, but if there's no chance I will get tickets as @Hector is mentioning I don't want that. 

Maybe this also has a relationship to her IG post about conquering the world from a different vantage point of view... 

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Watching the RHT today I started thinking about when and how the new tour would be... 

A residence doesn't sound bad but I'm starting to stress a year(s) too soon... 

:nervous:

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285 Candy Shopssss plus rehearsals... 

:think:

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Mmmm...An intimate show in only one city.... Sincerely im not a big fan .. 

A show with stratosferic prices only for Rich people? No no please!

madonna's shows =dancers, grandiosity, paraphernalia, extravaganza, etc etc.. Thast What people expect from a Madonna's show!

I think we will a chance... I understand that her shows were changing because she almost 60 years old, 6 kids.. Cannot be jumping on the scene as 10 years ago.. I suppose this is THE FUTURE..

Let's Wait and see...

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The thought of Madonna not doing choreography with a troupe of dancers behind her kind of saddens me. I know it's inevitable and im cool with that but I'm in fucking awe everytime I watch her bust her moves with her dancers. She's one of the pioneers and no one comes close.

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I hope it's not like Springsteen's residency and that she brings the show in Europe, at least in a couple of cities.

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A residency sounds interesting. The tears of a clown show wa such a joy and so different.

I can't see a residency attracting crowds outside the fans though if they were to follow a similar path of stand up comedy and an acoustic set.

It would be interesting and amazing to see her showcase some of her classics and back catalogue in a smaller venue.

Something like the promo spots for Music and Confessions both worked in clubs. Something like that would be fantastic.

 

Edited by Confessit

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How much of this decision is based on financial motives v/s artistic ones?

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3 hours ago, Hector said:

It's a nice idea but it sucks that almost nobody here would get to attend any of those shows. :cries: She'd have to do like 687 shows to meet demand. And omg the ticket prices would be much higher! :scared: Bruce Springsteen is doing a 4 month residency in NYC soon at a 1000-seat theater and it's impossible to get tickets. FACE VALUE for those tickets are $850 each. This show is 100x more difficult to go see than Hamilton in NYC was at its peak madness.

Exactly my thoughts

 

And given the Queen's current life situation she'll probably do her residency in LISBOA which of course is beautiful on paper but nightmare in reality. Bitches I'm already looking at real estate pries in Lisbon!?!?!?! 

 

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Just now, zizibello said:

How much of this decision is based on financial motives v/s artistic ones?

I'd say it's mostly artistic motives acutellement. She's already made tons of money, so she can afford to make this choice. 

 

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She's already thinking about her future tour, that's a good sign. Very good sign. She might get to the studio soon to record more intimate / personal songs to fit the new concept.

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she can do this in any country/city in the world. stay there for a while and do tons of small shows in the same theater. invite her fav acts. 

THEN in a few years do a big blow out greatest hits tour! 

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