Celebration Tour press - Rio de Janeiro

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Free Madonna concert attracts 1.6 million to Brazil’s Copacabana beach

Source: CNN - 6 March 2024

More than a million people thronged Brazil's Copacabana beach for a free Madonna concert on Saturday, braving the heat to see the end of her "Celebration" world tour.

The sand and oceanfront boulevard around Rio de Janeiro's famed beach were filled for several blocks by a crowd the city estimated at 1.6 million.

Many had been there for hours or even days to get a good spot, while richer fans anchored in dozens of boats near the beach and onlookers crowded beachfront apartments.

Firefighters sprayed water before the concert, when temperatures exceeded 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius), to cool fans gathered near the pop queen's stage, and drinking water was distributed for free. Temperatures were around 81 F (27 C) during the late night show.

Rio’s state and city governments said they spent $3.9 million on the concert. Photo by Mauro Pimentel/AFP/Getty Images

Madonna, 65, performed songs such as "Like a Prayer," "Vogue" and "Express Yourself" for over two hours from 10:45 p.m. as she wound up the greatest hits tour that started late last year.

"Rio, here we are, in the most beautiful place in the world, with the ocean, the mountains, Jesus," Madonna told the crowd, referring to the city's huge mountaintop Christ the Redeemer statue. "Magic."

Brazilian pop artists Anitta and Pabllo Vittar, as well as younger musicians from samba schools, participated in the show.

More than 3,000 police officers were deployed around the concert area, where the Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart have also drawn million-strong crowds. The authorities used a crowd-management strategy similar to their handling of the city's famous New Year's Eve celebrations.

Brazilian authorities have stepped up their vigilance over heat-related health problems after a young Brazilian fan died at a concert by Taylor Swift last year due to heat exhaustion.

Rio's state and city governments said they spent 20 million reais ($3.9 million) on the concert, while the rest was financed by private sponsors. The authorities estimate the concert could bring about 300 million reais to Rio's economy.

Madonna's final Celebration Tour stop in Rio de Janeiro draws record-breaking audience of 1.6 million

Source: People - 6 March 2024
Melody Chiu and Jenny Haward

Madonna promised her fans the biggest dance party in the world — and the Queen of Pop delivered on Saturday in Rio de Janeiro.

Huge crowds attended Madonna's performance at Copacabana beach. Photo by Ablo Porciuncula/AFP via Getty.

In March the singer, 65, announced she would be performing a historic free concert at Copacabana Beach for her final Celebration Tour show, and on the night a record-breaking 1.6 million fans watched the pop superstar perform.

The show made history as, though the annual New Year's Eve concerts at Copacabana Beach have drawn larger crowds, Madonna's May 4 audience was her biggest ever, and the largest ever for a stand-alone concert by any artist, a post on X (formerly Twitter) from Live Nation confirmed. The record was previously held by the Rolling Stones.

During the show, Madonna played a host of hits, including "Like a Virgin," "Like a Prayer," and "Into the Groove."

Pablo Vittar joined the pop icon on stage for "Music," while for her performance of "Vogue," the Brazilian crowd was treated to a guest appearance from Anitta, who later spoke of the "incredible moment" on her Instagram Stories.

"@madonna soooo happy for being part of this incredible moment with you," she wrote across a video of the two artists together on stage during the concert.

Huge crowds attended Madonna's performance at Copacabana beach. Photo by Andre Coelho/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock.

After the show, Madonna shared her delight and appreciation in several posts on Instagram, including a video from the event showing sweeping shots of the huge crowds.

"This really happened……….Thank you Rio 🇧🇷💛 ………. Thank you @pabllovittar and @anitta ……………Words cannot express my gratitude! To everyone involved!! 🇧🇷💛🇧🇷💚" she wrote alongside the clip.

Sponsored by Itaú Apresenta, the concert — her first in Brazil since 2012 — "will be free of charge as a thank you to her fans for celebration more than four decades of her music over the course of the epic global run of the tour," stated a press release.

The show took place in front of the Belmond Copacabana Palance Hotel, and entry was available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Huge crowds attended Madonna's performance at Copacabana beach. Photo by SPLASHNEWS.COM.

The Material Girl kicked off her long-awaited Celebration Tour at London's O2 Arena in October with an electrifying two-hour set during which she opened up about her road back to the stage after her hospitalization last year following a serious bacterial infection.

"I didn't think I was gonna make it. Neither did my doctors. That's why I woke up with all of my children sitting around me," Madonna said of her kids Lourdes, 27, Rocco, 23, David, 18, Mercy, 18, and twins Stella and Estere, 11. "But the angels were protecting me, and my children were there. And my children always save me every time."

Last month the singer shared a carousel of behind-the-scenes snaps of herself with her kids (David, Mercy, Stella and Estere all performed alongside mom during her run of shows) from their past few months on tour.

"On the day before our 80th show of the Celebration Tour I need to acknowledge my incredibly talented children who carried me through this Journey each of them bringing their own unique talent to the stage," she wrote in the caption.

Madonna closes out Celebration Tour in front of record-setting 1.6 million fans in Brazil

Source: Rolling Stone - 6 March 2024
Daniel Kreps

Madonna closed out her career-spanning Celebration Tour Saturday with a free concert at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's Copacabana Beach in front of 1.6 million fans, setting the record for the largest audience ever for a stand-alone concert by any artist in history.

The performance marked Madonna's first time performing in Brazil since 2012, and was heralded as "a thank you to her fans for celebrating more than four decades of her music over the course of the epic global run of the tour," Live Nation previously said of the event.

Copacabana Beach has long been a magnet for epic, well-populated shows, notably a Rolling Stones gig in 2006 that drew an estimated (and then record-setting) 1.5 million fans. Madonna's show Saturday night toppled the record, with Live Nation putting the attendance at 1.6 million people who turned Copacabana Beach into "the world's largest dancefloor."

Madonna's setlist stuck closely to the hits-filled one she's performing throughout the past eight months, but there was one surprise on tap for Rio de Janeiro: Brazilian singer Anitta — fresh off the release of her own new album Funk Generation — stopped by during the "Vogue" portion of the concert to deliver some 10s:

Madonna last visited Brazil in December 2012 for her MDNA Tour, stopping at venues such as Rio's Parque dos Atletas, São Paulo's Estádio do Morumbi, and Porto Alegre's Estádio Olímpico Monumental.

Madonna opened her Celebration Tour at London's O2 Arena in London back in October 2023, touring across Europe through December. She kicked off the U.S. leg of her tour in New York City on Dec. 13, with shows scheduled through April 26 — including a five-show run at Mexico City's Palacio de los Deportes.

The tour has had several major guests along the way: In Los Angeles, Kylie Minogue and Cardi B joined her on stage on separate occasions.

Madonna's free Brazil concert at Rio's Copacabana beach attracts more than 1.6 million fans

Source: BBC - 6 March 2024
Noor Nanji

Madonna put on a free concert in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday night with throngs of fans flocking to see the pop idol on Brazil's famous Copacabana beach.

"Rio, here we are in the most beautiful place in the world," she declared, as the performance got under way.

The show was the final stop on the 65-year-old's Celebration Tour, celebrating her 40 years in music.

More than 1.6 million fans were estimated to have attended the show.

"Are you ready?" Madonna posted on her Instagram account seven hours before the show.

Huge crowds attended Madonna's performance at Copacabana beach. Photo by Getty.

Crowds of fans were seen dancing along to Madonna's songs played from speakers on the stage, hours before the American superstar arrived.

In what many have called a "historic" show, Madonna impressed the audience with multiple set and costume changes and light displays.

The singer performed some of her greatest hits, including Nothing Really Matters, Like a Prayer and Vogue, and was joined on stage at one point by Brazilian singer Anitta.

Madonna performs at the Celebration Tour in Rio. Photo by Getty.

There were giant screens located along the beach, to ensure the largely Brazilian crowd was able to see the event unfold. Some watched from apartments or hotels, others from boats.

There was also a large police presence to ensure the safety of all those in attendance.

T-shirts, souvenirs and billboards with Madonna's face decked the neighbourhood as excitement built ahead of the concert.

Since she burst onto the UK charts with Holiday in 1984, Madonna has scored another 71 hits, including 13 number one singles.

Some, like Vogue, Like A Prayer and Ray of Light, are era-defining anthems. Others, like Live To Tell and Don't Tell Me, are beloved fan favourites.

Fans had been anticipating Madonna's arrival in Rio de Janeiro. Photo by Getty.

Last year, the superstar was found unconscious in her New York apartment in June and rushed to hospital, where she received treatment for a serious bacterial infection.

But she has since returned to full strength and her tour has been marked by her characteristically energetic performances.

The Rio concert was the final touch on a tour made up of 80 shows across Europe and North America.

Madonna's biggest-ever concert transforms Rio's Copacabana beach into a massive dance floor

Source: ABC News - 6 March 2024
Eléonore Hughes

Madonna put on a free concert on Copacabana beach Saturday night, turning Rio de Janeiro's vast stretch of sand into an enormous dance floor teeming with a multitude of her fans.

It was the last show of The Celebration Tour, her first retrospective, which kicked off in October in London.

The "Queen of Pop" began the show with her 1998 hit "Nothing Really Matters." Huge cheers rose from the buzzing, tightly packed crowd, pressed up against the barriers. Others held house parties in brightly lighted apartments and hotels overlooking the beachfront. Helicopters and drones flew overhead, and motorboats and sailboats anchored off the beach filled the bay.

"Here we are in the most beautiful place in the world," Madonna, 65, told the crowd. Pointing out the ocean view, the mountains and the Christ the Redeemer statue overlooking the city, she added: "This place is magic."

Madonna performed her classic hits, including "Like A Virgin" and "Hung Up." For the introduction to "Like A Prayer," her head was completely covered in a black cape, a rosary gripped in her hands.

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The star paid an emotional tribute to "all the bright lights" lost to AIDS as she sang "Live to Tell," with black and white photos of people who died from the illness flashing behind her.

Later, she was joined on stage by Brazilian artists Anitta and Pabllo Vittar.

Rio spent the last few days readying itself for the performance.

An estimated 1.6 million people attended the show, G1 reported, citing Rio City Hall's tourism agency. That is more than 10 times Madonna's record attendance of 130,000 at Paris' Parc des Sceaux in 1987. Madonna's official website hyped the show as the biggest ever in her four-decade career.

In recent days, the buzz was palpable. Fans milled outside the stately, beachfront Copacabana Palace hotel, where Madonna is staying, hoping to catch a glimpse of the pop star. During the sound check on the stage set up in front of the hotel, they danced on the sand.

By midday Saturday, fans crowded in front of the hotel. A white-bearded man carried a sign saying, "Welcome Madonna you are the best I love you."

Flags with "Madonna" printed against a background of Copacabana's iconic black and white waved sidewalk pattern hung from balconies. The area was packed with street vendors and concert attendees kitted out in themed T-shirts, sweating under a baking sun.

"Since Madonna arrived here, I've been coming every day with this outfit to welcome my idol, my diva, my pop queen," said Rosemary de Oliveira Bohrer, 69, who sported a gold-colored cone bra and a black cap.

"It's going to be an unforgettable show here in Copacabana," said Oliveira Bohrer, a retired civil servant who lives in the area.

Eighteen sound towers were spread along the beach to ensure that all attendees can hear the hits. Her two-hour show started at 10:37 p.m. local time, nearly 50 minutes behind schedule.

City Hall produced a report in April estimating that the concert would vinject 293 million reals ($57 million) into the local economy. Hotel capacity was expected to reach 98% in Copacabana, according to Rio's hotel association. Fans hailing from across Brazil and even Argentina and France sought out Airbnbs for the weekend, the platform said in a statement. Rio's international airport had forecast an extra 170 flights during May 1-6, from 27 destinations, City Hall said in a statement.

"It's a unique opportunity to see Madonna, who knows if she'll ever come back," said Alessandro Augusto, 53, who flew in from Brazil's Ceara state — approximately 2,500 kilometers (1,555 miles) from Rio.

"Welcome Queen!" read Heineken ads plastered around the city, the lettering above an image of an upturned bottle cap resembling a crown.

Heineken wasn't the only company seeking to profit from the excitement. Bars and restaurants prepared "Like a Virgin" cocktails. A shop in the downtown neighborhood famed for selling Carnival attire completely reinvented itself, stocking its shelves with Madonna-themed costumes, fans, fanny packs and even underwear.

Organization of the mega-event was similar to New Year's Eve, when millions of people gather on Copacabana for its fireworks display, local authorities said. That annual event often produces widespread thefts and muggings, and there was some concern such problems might occur at Madonna's show.

Rio state's security plan included the presence of 3,200 military personnel and 1,500 civilian police officers on stand by. In the lead-up to the concert, Brazil's navy inspected vessels that wished to position themselves offshore to follow the show.

A number of huge concerts have taken place on Copacabana beach before, including a 1994 New Year's Eve show by Rod Stewart that drew more than 4 million fans and was the biggest free rock concert in history, according to Guinness World Records. Many of those spectators also came to see Rio's fireworks show, though, so a more fitting comparison might be to the Rolling Stones in 2006, which saw 1.2 million people crowd onto the sand, according to Rio's military police, the newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo reported at the time.

Ana Beatriz Soares, a fan who was at Copacabana on Saturday, said Madonna has made her mark across the decades.

"Madonna had to run so that today's pop artists could walk. That's why she's important, because she serves as an inspiration for today's pop divas," Soares said.

"And that's 40 years ago. Not 40 days, 40 months. It's 40 years," she said.

Madonna brings massive free concert to Rio, capping Celebration Tour

Source: NY Times - 6 March 2024
Flávia Milhorance and Julia Jacobs

The pop superstar performed a final date on her global trek marking four decades of hits: a set on Copacabana Beach before the largest live crowd of her career.

When Madonna stepped out onto the mammoth stage constructed on Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana Beach on Saturday night in a gleaming halo headpiece and black kimono, she was greeted by the largest live crowd of her four-decade career.

The free show, announced in late March, was a grand finale to the pop superstar's latest world tour, which has delivered 80 performances since last October. Without ticket data, concert crowd sizes can be difficult to gauge; Riotur, the municipality's tourism department, estimated that 1.6 million people flooded onto the 2.4-mile stretch of sand on Saturday that had been turned into a roughly $12 million playground surrounding the 8,700-square-foot stage.

Madonna performs at the Celebration Tour in Rio. Photo by Maria Magdalena Arrellaga.

It was the culmination of days of Madonna-mania in the city, where talk of the singer, 65, was inescapable. Her songs spilled out of stores and car stereos. Fans assembled outside her hotel and shouted her name. Updates about the concert, which was broadcast on the network Globo TV, dominated local media reports.

The spectacle in Rio was a milestone in Madonna's career: the victory lap for her first stage retrospective, called the Celebration Tour, in which she chronicled her rise to stardom, performing hits like "Into the Groove," "Like a Prayer" and "Ray of Light" with a cadre of dancers, four of her six children, and a wardrobe of elaborate costuming that recalled some of her most memorable looks.

"Here we are, the most beautiful place in the world," Madonna announced early in the concert, indicating the ocean and the mountains around her. "This is magic." Later, she expounded on her gratitude for her Brazilian fans. "You have always been there for me," she said. "That flag: that green-and-yellow flag, I see it everywhere. I feel it in my heart."

The two-plus-hour Rio show hewed closely to the Celebration show, with a few exceptions: Madonna added her 2000 track "Music" to the set list, rearranged as a samba with live drummers and a special guest, the Brazilian drag star Pabllo Vittar. "Live to Tell," staged as a tribute to victims of AIDS, included photographs of the Brazilian musicians Cazuza and Renato Russo, and the actress Sandra Bréa. For "Vogue," Madonna appeared in a sparkly dress in the colors of the Brazilian flag and was joined by the pop sensation Anitta, who helped "judge" the competitors strutting down the runway.

The show had lifelong Madonna fans — many of whom came dressed in homage to their heroine in cone bras and lace gloves — screaming and dancing along. Ernesto Magalhães, 42, adorned in the style of Madonna's "Material Girl" era in a gown and boa while balancing on stilts, epitomized the exuberant spirit of the occasion: "I've been a Madonna fan since I was 8; I couldn't miss this." Surya Rossi, a 31-year-old illustrator, decided on a last-minute trip from Rio Claro, São Paulo, after coordinating with her cousin, and stayed with friends. "Madonna has been a tremendous influence on me, both as a feminist and an artist," she said. "Her empowering history and approach inspire me."

It was also something of a landmark moment for live concerts globally. At a time of astronomical ticket prices and rising production costs for major shows, a free concert attracting a crowd of this scale is exceedingly rare, especially in the United States. California's Coachella festival, where a three-day general admission pass starts at about $500, draws up to 125,000 attendees a day. Musikfest, a mostly free music festival in Pennsylvania, welcomed about 1.3 million visitors over 11 days last year.

Madonna performs at the Celebration Tour in Rio. Photo by Maria Magdalena Arrellaga.

"To have a free show like that in recent years is relatively unheard-of," Katelyn Yount, the director of festivals at AEG Presents, said of Madonna's closing show. Hangout, an upcoming music festival on Alabama's Gulf Coast that is among the annual events AEG produces, is capped each day at about 40,000 attendees, who pay more than $300 for a three-day pass.

If a performance of this magnitude was going to be held anywhere in 2024, it would probably be in Rio, where officials have experience with enormous crowds. In 2006, about 1.5 million people attended a free Rolling Stones concert at Copacabana Beach, Brazilian police and other authorities said at the time. An even larger crowd was said to have gathered for a Rod Stewart show there on New Year's Eve in 1994.

The idea for the sprawling event was first planted two years ago, when Luiz Oscar Niemeyer, an executive with Bonus Track, a live entertainment company based in Rio de Janeiro, approached Madonna's managers after hearing about plans for the tour. The Rolling Stones concert in 2006 helped convince him that something like this was possible, he said.

Negotiations stalled until last year, when a Madonna show in Mexico City was announced — ticketed dates for the Celebration Tour ended up wrapping with five nights there at the Palacio de los Deportes — and Niemeyer resumed his efforts to convince the pop star's representatives and secure funding.

"It was an ambitious project for everyone, aiming to attract the largest audience of her career, and I thought this would help me persuade her," Niemeyer said in an interview last week.

The concert's corporate backers include the Brazilian bank Itaú and Heineken, and the government has made a significant investment as well.

Preparation for Madonna-palooza had consumed a segment of the city in recent days. A week ago, cargo planes carried about 270 tons of concert material to the city, including costumes and gym equipment. Eighteen sound and video towers were built across the beach, and last Wednesday, 4,000 workers prepared the stage in scorching heat.

Because this was the only Celebration concert in South America — Madonna last toured there in 2012 — fans congregated from all over the continent. In the days leading up to the event, a Madonna impersonator, Izelene Cristina, danced to "La Isla Bonita" at a bus station as she welcomed travelers. She would not be attending the concert because excitement over the superstar's performance had led to a flood of bookings.

"Such is the life of an artist," she said. "You work to move and entertain people."

On Monday, Madonna and her touring team of about 200 arrived in Rio, heading directly to the French Riviera-inspired Copacabana Palace, the luxury hotel near where the stage was built. Later in the week, crowds gathered as close to the stage as possible, as the pop star crossed a specially built footbridge from the hotel to the stage to rehearse with some of her dancers.

Social media was flooded with clips of Madonna running through songs including the opener, "Nothing Really Matters." "Are you happy? Are you ready?" she asked the assembled crowd at one point. The response: wild cheering. "OK, just checking," she replied.

Madonna performs at the Celebration Tour in Rio. Photo by Maria Magdalena Arrellaga.

At a press briefing ahead of the concert, officials discussed the safety concerns that can accompany an audience of that size and unpredictable weather on the shore. Last year, the Brazilian D.J. Alok scheduled what had been billed as the "concert of the century" on Copacabana Beach, but a storm led part of the crowd to scatter, and concertgoers were faced with rampant pickpocketing, a problem at least some faced on Saturday night as well.

Marco Andrade, a spokesman for the Rio police, told reporters that the department planned to deploy 3,200 officers at the Madonna concert, compared with about 900 for Alok's event. He said that facial recognition technology would be used at inspection areas, in addition to drones to monitor the crowd. In the end, the audience stretched into the ocean as well — a collection of boats anchored in the waters near the venue.

The atmosphere on the ground Saturday night was like a World Cup event, street carnival and New Year's Eve celebration combined. Street vendors offered shirts, hats, cups and fans adorned with Madonna's face and rainbow colors, and a plethora of barbecue, grilled cheese, empanadas and the Brazilian cocktail caipirinhas were available. To fight the heat, a firefighter atop a fire truck sprayed a jet of water on the crowd.

As the show ended with a remix of her 2009 track "Celebration," Madonna addressed the audience for a final time: "Thank you, Rio," adding "obrigada," the equivalent in Portuguese. She smiled and let go of a Brazilian flag, flipped a white veil over her head and descended beneath the stage.

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