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September 15, 2006

Madonna’s Moscow concert: The Third Rome is still standing

MOSCOW—There is an episode in Mikhail Bulgakov’s “The Master and Margarita” when the eponymous heroine, naked, flies over Moscow on a broomstick. Heading to a gathering of witches, she is invisible. But even if she were not, the huge city would be unlikely to remember seeing her for very long. Strange things happen in a megalopolis, so what if a naked woman flew on a broomstick or a couple of people went mad? Most people would not care.

However, before the arrival in Moscow of the “demon-possessed Madonna”, as ultra-Orthodox Russian priests put it, the Third Rome did see a few apparitions. First the authorities prohibited the concert’s organizers from staging it in front of Moscow State University. They ostensibly feared that students would fall in droves from the windows of one of Moscow’s highest buildings. Then they turned down the organizers’ proposal to hold the concert at the Tushino airfield. The police said they could not guarantee security, recalling that two Chechen suicide bombers had blown themselves up there two years before. The authorities did not want to allow Madonna to use the city’s largest stadium, Luzhniki, either, saying that it was the training ground for the football club Spartak. It became obvious that Madonna had powerful foes in Moscow.

The church hierarchs were the first to declare that she should not be allowed to perform in the capital city of an Orthodox country. Black-clad religious fanatics gathered in the center of Moscow. Just seeing them made a creepy enough impression, but when they started tearing a Madonna poster with a wooden stake, it looked absolutely sick. A man whose clothes were better suited for begging for alms was stomping on the pieces of the poster and saying something about heresy and demonic apparitions and predicted that the land would fall apart if this slut were crucified on the stage. Moscow laughed, but land did fall apart. A day before Madonna’s arrival, a large part of the road on a major city highway collapsed into a 10 meter crater. The road had hardly been rebuilt when the same happened in another party of the city.

Then, unexpectedly, the church went silent. The clever organizers of the concert announced that President Vladimir Putin intended to meet the pop diva for breakfast. It proved enough to stop the devilment around the event and to allow her to perform in Luzhniki. From then on, everything looked normal: it was the typical concert of a grand celebrity with an erotically provocative show, but after Russia’s crazy sex revolution in the late 1990s her concert did not look any more scary than the strip shows in Moscow’s numerous nightclubs.

There was no thunder when Madonna finally arrived in the Russian capital. Instead, the weather improved, and it was sunny after two weeks of cold rain, so the singer looked a bit odd when she came out of the airport wearing a fur-collared jacket. Overall there was nothing demonic about her. A Moscow daily wrote that she was dressed like a modest secretary who bought her clothes at cheap markets.

After the powerful PR campaign, it was a sensation when radio stations announced four hours before the concert that not all tickets had been sold. As many as 50,000 people attended the performance, but the number of unsold tickets is unknown.

The audience’s reaction was surprising. One of the fans said disappointedly that Madonna was singing for herself and not for the audience. Apparently, she failed to sufficiently impress a crowd that had waited for her appearance for two hours. Still, her crucifixion provoked a roar unlike any that had been heard here for about twenty years, since the last victories of the national football team.

So, separating the pre-concert schizophrenia of the authorities and organizers from Madonna’s quite normal stay in Moscow, we can state one thing. Moscow, as one of the world’s largest capital cities, is quite able to accommodate any celebrity. In their hunt for adrenaline, Muscovites are no different from other people. They are capable of adoring their idols, but that does not mean they want to turn Moscow life into chaos. So even if Madonna had flown on a broomstick, the Third Rome would still be standing.

___

© 2006, RIA Novosti. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

—By Boris Kaimakov [RIA Novosti] 6:02 am

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mlicious

And so to bed....

Posted: 15 September 2006 - Thanks to Timur

Russian website www.tden.ru published this great picture of Madonna and her Dancing Queen dressing gown as she returned to her hotel after her first ever concert in Moscow.

moscow_120906_dressinggown_news.jpg

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So nice to find many articles in English for Moscow

Eurasian Home Analytical Resource, Russia

JULIAN EVANS, MOSCOW

WHEN MADONNA CAME TO MOSCOW

It’s the day before Madonna’s first ever Moscow show, and the atmosphere around the gig is tense. Many Muscovites say they are sure something will go wrong, and the gig will be cancelled. There is a sense that there is more riding on this concert than just music. Forget the G8 summit in St Petersburg – Madonna’s gig is, in the words of Arthur Fogel, chairman of Live Nation’s global music division and the top tour operator in the world, “easily the biggest show that’s ever been held in Russia”.

Rumours and controversies have swirled around the Moscow show ever since it was announced in August. Two weeks ago, a group called the Union of Orthodox Flag-Bearers staged a noisy protest in downtown Moscow, where they declared a “Holy Inquisition” against Madonna, and drove a stake through a poster of the singer. The aim of the inquisition, said chairman Leonid Simonovich Nikshich, was to “fight against slander, rather than kill people”. That’s a relief, then.

But religious protests against Madonna are nothing new. More seriously, the Moscow show had to change venue in controversial circumstances. Live Nation originally wanted to hold the show at Luzhniki Stadium, where the Rolling Stones played in 1998. However, it appeared Spartak Moscow football club would be playing there, so they opted for another location, near Moscow State University. Their local operator, NCA, hired a state-owned company called Kreml to get permission for the venue.

It appeared permission had been successfully attained, and Live Nation gave the approval for 35,000 tickets to be sold. But then it became clear that permission had not, in fact, been given by the Moscow police force. “The process had not been concluded”, admits Vladimir Kiselyev, general director of Kreml.

But Live Nation certainly thought, and thinks, it was. Fogel says: “We were shown a letter saying approval had definitely been given. We would never have advised for tickets to be sold if approval hadn’t been given. It’s distressing to hear that it might not have been.”

In which case, were they lied to, or was it a problem with communication? Kiselyev of Kreml says the latter: “There were so many different partners involved, it was a problem to coordinate everything.”

Luckily, at that point it became clear that Luzhniki Stadium, the original choice for the venue, would in fact be free, and the concert was moved there. The local operators were saved from a highly embarrassing, costly and potentially litigious situation.

Even the Luzhniki venue was not without its pitfalls. The architect of the roof, Nodar Kancheli, who this month narrowly escaped criminal charges after a water-park he designed collapsed and killed 28 people in 2004, told Russian radio that the Luzhniki roof could also collapse if the vibrations of the show were too strong.

Local rock critics say these controversies, on such a high profile concert, could spoil Moscow’s reputation as a place major bands should visit. “They’re risking everything”, says Artyom Troistkii, who helped organize the Live8 gig here. “All these scandals have pushed Moscow back. It’s because the American tour operators were greedy, and wanted to do the tour themselves, rather than selling the rights to a major local operator. They pushed all the wrong buttons, didn’t know who to talk to or who to bribe.”

Unfortunately, the situation is not unique. Last month, Eric Clapton was booked to play on Red Square. However, three days before the gig, his management team abruptly cancelled the show, when it became clear they were actually playing in a venue just outside Red Square. Clapton’s management declined to comment.

These set-backs have led to a bout of typically Russian soul-searching among the local press. Russian Newsweek, one of the best news magazines here, wrote a cover story entitled ‘Sorry Madonna’, in which they apologised that her tour had to encounter all the obstacles of playing in Moscow: “Terrorist threats, greedy police, bureaucratic idiocy, religious condemnation, and simply chaos”.

Fogel, who has organized tours all over the world, says: “It’s around 50% more expensive to do shows in Moscow than in any other city in the world.” That’s partly because of geography – it costs a lot to move 35 trucks from Poland, as Live Nation had to do for Madonna’s one Moscow show.

But partly, it’s corruption. Fogel says: “It’s the culture of everyone looking to be taken care of.” So you have to pay the customs guards to get your trucks through the border, you have to pay to get all the different licenses. Two members of the crew even had to pay off the police when they ventured into Red Square to go sightseeing.

That puts off many artists from coming here, says Fogel. Some of his other acts, such as U2, still haven’t played here. Bands only seem to play here when they are well and truly passed it – it’s like a musical elephant’s graveyard. Where does T-Rex play 20 years after Marc Bolan died? Moscow. Where does Run DMC play when it has lost 50% of the band? Moscow. Where does St Etienne go when they want to play a come-back gig? Moscow. “Is Belinda Carlisle playing here?” asks an incredulous Fogel, after he sees a huge billboard announcing her upcoming gig. “Of all the people…”

Those hot acts who do make the effort to come here sometimes do so in the face of commercial common sense, because they dream of playing in such an exotic location. Jack White of the White Stripes told the audience for their gig last year: “Our manager told us it was too expensive to play in Moscow. So we fired him and got a new manager.”

It’s strange that Moscow shouldn’t be more on the music map, when the city is swimming in petro-dollars. That oil wealth means, at least, that the oligarch class can afford to hire the world’s top acts to play for their own private parties. Thus earlier this year, Christina Aguilera was paid $1 million to play three songs at the birthday of Daghestani billionaire Suleiman Kerimov. She’s never done a public show here.

The local population, meanwhile, has to rely on tribute bands to keep them amused. One of the most frequent acts on the Moscow live music scene is Billy’s Band, a tribute band for Tom Waits. Another poster for a big festival in November proudly announces ‘Creedence Clearwater Revival’, and underneath, in tiny letters, ‘Tribute Band’. Local bands casts a longing eye at the distant western scene, and try to imitate, with occasionally amusing results. One of the hits of the summer was ‘Depressed Gangster Rap’, which combined a Dr Dre beat with a sprightly polka accordion.

Local tour operators, it should be said, disagree with my gloomy view of the Moscow music scene. Nadia Solovieva, head of SAV Entertainment, which has brought acts like Paul McCartney and Roger Walters to Moscow, says: “Most of the biggest acts have played here. Which acts come here is totally driven by public taste.” She agrees the local music scene is moribund, but blames that on CD piracy, which means Russian record companies are too weak to invest in local talent.

The situation is certainly not all bad. More and more good acts are making the trip east – next week, Missy Elliott makes her debut here. Some oligarchs, like the Alfa Group, have been helpful in bringing acts like Madonna to the Russian people. Moscow is already firmly on the map for international DJs. And those bands that do make it out here can be guaranteed a rapturous reception, because they audience are hugely grateful they have made the effort to come.

And the Madonna gig did happen. The expected crisis with forged tickets didn’t occur, though the venue and date switch meant the stadium was only three quarters full. The star wasn’t kidnapped. The 7,000 police were, on the whole, a help rather than a hindrance. And the roof didn’t collapse.

“I’ve wanted to play in Russia for 25 years”, Madge told the adoring crowd. “I’d like to thank mayor [Yuri] Luzhkov for making it happen.” In fact, the actual show went off more or less without a hitch, and mayor Luzhkov, who was at the show, ordered the tube to run an extra two hours to take us all home. “I got the feeling that the authorities right at the top wanted to make this run smoothly”, says Fogel. Moscow is establishing itself on the international gig circuit, albeit slowly.

Julian Evans, a British freelance journalist based in Moscow.

September 15, 2006

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Damn, i was hoping for pics of a full stadium. That sucks for the Russian people who wanted to see her but couldnt because of this mess. Her one time in Moscow and they blew it. She could have packed in 100,000 if she wanted.

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^ Those are so cute Pera!

---

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/7days/story...1874564,00.html

Sunday September 17, 2006

The Observer

A good week for ...

Madonna

How much mileage can one poppet gain from toying with religious sensibilities? After she performed in Russia last week, she took some heat from the Orthodox Church. When are the clerics going to learn not to take the bait?

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http://www.kommersant.com/page.asp?id=705517

Madonna Scared Away from Red Square

Last week, as part of her "Confessions" tour, Madonna gave a concert at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow that will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the loudest fashionable events of the year. The only annoying thing about it is that Moscow "high society" didn't get to see nearly enough of Madonna, and Madonna didn't get to see nearly enough of Red Square.

Long before Madonna's Moscow concert, the heroes of the society chronicles were already measuring not only the high price of the VIP spots (they came in both "gold" and "platinum" varieties), but also the difference between the nominal and real price of the tickets. It was considered especially chic to buy for $5,000 a ticket for the show that had originally cost 25,000 rubles (about $1,000). There were also many who doubted the reality of the pop diva's visit right up until the moment it happened. Only when a landing party of Madonna's technical and dance troops had checked into the Ararat Park Hyatt hotel did the society pages finally believe: "She's coming!"

Madonna flew to Moscow in her private jet. From the airport, the singer headed immediately to the Ararat Park Hyatt, where she was staying under the pseudonym Louise Gordon. At the same time, the nearby Gary Tatintsian gallery unveiled an exhibit of Steven Klein's photographs entitled MADONNA.X-STaTIC PRO=Cess. Mr. Klein's exhibit has been touring the world for several years, but Madonna has never before permitted an open exhibit to be held. The exhibit attracted not only the photographers Vladimir Glynin and Vladimir Fridkes and the gallery owners Boris Pavlov and Yemelyan Zakharov but also the head of Access Industries, Leonard Blavatnik, and his brother Aleksey; Rossport head Vyacheslav Fetisov; "Wimpelcom" general director Alexander Izosimov; top model Natalya Vodyanova and her husband, the English baronet Justin Portman; the restaurateur Arkady Novikov and his wife; and the collector Victor Bondarenko. Disappointment showed on the faces of all of the guests as they arrived at the gallery, as if they had expected Madonna to be there to greet them personally. Instead of Madonna, they were met at the door by the beaming head of the promotional agency marka:face:fashion, Fyodor Pavlov-Andreevich: "Her people got in touch with us half an hour ago," he said, smiling broadly. "She'll be here!" As part of the necessary security measures, the guests were herded into the inner courtyard. At just after nine, a long black limousine pulled up to the gallery, and out stepped a small woman dressed entirely in black. Heading straight for Mr. Pavlov-Andreevich, she confidently delivered her lines: "Hello. Where is Mr. Klein?" Presumably to preserve her cover, she spoke in Russian. Remarking on her level of preparation, Mr. Pavlov-Andreevich took her to Mr. Klein.

As they looked over the exhibit, those in the courtyard started a discussion about the legendary woman herself. "She's such a tidy little woman, getting a little up there in years," said an unknown young man, choosing his words slowly. A buzz of whispers followed his words, and after that only the most delighted exclamations were heard: "She's out of this world, she's unreal!"

Meanwhile, in front of the installation "Bud," Madonna ran into the ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Singapore to Russia, Michael Tay, who should not have been there. Madonna acted as though she had not noticed him, while Mr. Tay, who was absorbed by the work he was looking at, at first really didn't notice her. When the ambassador finally became aware that the idol of millions standing before him, he was so taken aback that it was clear he posed no threat to the singer. Giving him a glance, Madonna said simply, "Bye." Then, together with Mr. Klein, she drove away from the gallery intending to go for a walk on Red Square. However, no sooner had the door to the limousine swung open then the flashbulbs of the lurking paparazzi exploded with such furor that the door immediately closed again. The car headed for the hotel. Upon arriving at the Ararat, Madonna wrote in her blog that she felt fantastic and that she was very pleased by the care taken by her hosts about the weather on the day of her concert. "I have been told that Russian weather experts are going to spray the sky above the stadium so it doesn’t rain on my show!" she bragged. "The system was originally developed to keep Red Square rallies dry in Soviet times, and was used for the G8 summit. I have to hand it to Russia. You really know how to treat a Queen! I mean I've been adored in many ways, but you are the first country to move heaven and earth for me!" Meanwhile, fans who already had no hope of meeting Madonna descended on Club CabareTT for the "Evropa+Madonna party," which featured an exclusive performance by Madonna's opening act, D.J. Paul Oakenfold.

Before the concert the next day, Madonna, like any other tourist, went souvenir shopping. She came away with a set of five pink matryoshka dolls for her daughter. The singer, who is well-known for her spiritual quests, particularly liked their name: "the praying angels." Then, leaving the matryoshkas in the hotel, Madonna set off for Luzhniki.

The holders of the VIP seats arrived at Luzhniki significantly later. They were distinguishable from the ticket holders for the ordinary grandstand seats only by the official "BeeLine" or "Evropa+" bags containing a t-shirt and a baseball cap emblazoned with the tour's emblem that they received at the entrance. The VIPs discovered an unexpected use for these items when the usherette who was supposed to show them to their seats gave them a valuable bit of guidance: "Make sure to lay out the t-shirt before you sit down, since the seats are dirty." At this, the "platinum" audience members indignantly exclaimed en masse that at the price they were paying, they were fully within their rights to expect that their seats would be free of dirt and rainwater.

Their dissatisfaction might not have been so vocal if the stage hadn't been so far away: between the VIP seats and the stage lay an entire football field and a 20-meter-wide athletic track, and the view of the stage was decidedly sidelong. "It's bad, of course, but from the presidential boxes, where [Moscow Mayor Yury] Luzhkov, [inteko company head Elena] Baturina, and [Duma Vice-Speaker Artur] Chilingarov are sitting, you can't see anything," they consoled each other. Luzhkov, who attended the concert with his wife and daughters, had little to complain about, however. When else would he be able to hear the most famous woman in the world scream into the microphone, "Thank you, Mayor Luzhkov!", without even butchering his last name too badly? Others noticed in the presidential box that evening included the mayor's press secretary, Sergey Tsoi, and his wide Anita; the president of the National Football Fund, Alimjan Tokhtakhunov; the co-owner of Fleming Family & Partners, Mark Garber; and the management of the stadium with their entire households in tow. Rumor even had it that the president's chief of staff, Vladimir Kozin, came into the box, glanced around, and left.

In the "platinum" zones were Gazprom head Aleksey Miller; "Troika Dialogue" president Pavel Teplukhin; Ukrainian presidential advisor Boris Nemtsov; television personality Ksenia Sobchak in the company of Polina Deripaska, the wife of the head of the company "Basic Element"; MTS vice president Tatiana Yevtushenkova; and Shakhra Amirkhanova, the editor of Harper's Bazaar. Around nine in the evening, Mr. Blavatnik and Mr. Izosimov appeared with fairly melancholy expressions on their faces. The buffet in the "platinum" boxes left something to be desired, while there was no buffet at all for the "golden" VIPs, prompting Mr. Garber to pass a bottle of wine hidden in one of the official sponsor's bags to a friend on the other side of the fence. The head of Bosco di Ciliegi, Mikhail Kusnirovich, managed to get his hands on a pair of open-faced sandwiches topped with dry-smoked sausage. Having torn off their cellophane wrapping, he gave one to the actress Ingeborg Dapkunight. For all of that, though, the view of the stage was slightly better from the "gold" boxes.

The start of the concert was delayed. Finally, a blimp with no clear purpose appeared in the sky over the stadium. Noticing it, Mr. Miller wondered aloud, with hope in his voice, whether this "might be a concert by Led Zeppelin?" After what seemed like a few more hours, however, it was Madonna who took the stage. For the VIP spectators, she was approximately the size of a half of someone's little finger, and many of them left their seats and crowded into the aisles. Their dissatisfaction was further stoked by the fact that even the plasma screens weren't sufficiently large for such an enormous venue. The situation ripened to criticism flung at the stage by the disgruntled VIPs. "In my opinion, she can't sing at all," grumbled one woman. "It seems to me like her breasts are too small," added her companion. "And seeing how everyone in the fan zone is going crazy is especially annoying," said the fashionable promoter Andrey Fomin. Only the singer's most devoted fans in the VIP zone managed to hang in there until the end of the show.

After the concert Madonna went to rest, and the next day she visited residential school #80 for children with developmental delays. As a gift, she brought the children 15 cakes and several warm coats. When the children began to call her "mama," the pop diva, on the verge of tears, made a swift exit.

Yevgeniya Milova

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Hmmm...you know, since the original show was supposed to take place at Vorobyevy Gory, and the number of tickets was contracted for that venue, I wonder if this concert could still be reported as a sell-out by Live Nation?

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Guest Moskovit

It's so hard to be a billionaire in Russia: Madonna didn't greet you personally at the exhibition, there wasn't proper buffet during the show and after it you had to go to the car not less than 100 meters, as no parking was allowed near the stadium. Terrible ordeals, I still don't understand how they managed to get over them.

:rolleyes:

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  • 3 weeks later...

http://www.kommersant.com/page.asp?id=709947

Beggaring Madonna

The Moscow concert of U.S. pop star Madonna that had been held in September at Luzhniki Sports Center triggered another scandal. Nowdays, not only the Russian fans of the star but also her American and European lovers may acquire a pirate DVD of the Russian concert via Internet, paying just $20 for it.

The fans can buy the pirate "Madonna Moscow Live" DVD at exclusivemusicstore.com just for $20. The site says there were no plans for official recording of the concert and promises to deliver the DVD to any place worldwide but for India, Indonesia and the African states. The film is based on shooting one of the Luzhniki displays and some portion of onstage performance of Madonna.

Of interest is that exclusivemusicstore.com was incorporated in the U.S. Arizona in March 2006 via the registering sites, so neither the name nor the whereabouts of owners could be determined.

In Russia’s office of Warner/Chapell Music that protects Madonna’s interests, they knew that the pirate DVD had appeared. “It’s difficult to evaluate what material damage has been caused to Madonna by releasing the disk, but the damage is great,” said Dmitry Maiko, deputy GD of the office. “We are checking the information for the time being and will certainly go to enforcement bodies,” the official emphasized.

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Guest DressMeUp

While audio bootlegs are all good I dont like the idea of video ones, especially when for sale.

No matter who it is, when an artist tours theyre putting alot of effort and energy into their performance on-stage and you really should pay for the priviledge to view it, jsut like the people who actually went did.

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Guest northernlad
While audio bootlegs are all good I dont like the idea of video ones, especially when for sale.

No matter who it is, when an artist tours theyre putting alot of effort and energy into their performance on-stage and you really should pay for the priviledge to view it, jsut like the people who actually went did.

I completely agree.

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