Looks To Kill: Madonna's new tour wardrobe salutes female warriors
Madonna kicked off her ambitious MDNA world tour in Tel Aviv last week, unveiling a whole new era of provocation that challenges the present and winks at its own past(s). The original Queen of Pop kept a lid on the visual elements of the show before the kickoff, creating a mystery with major payoff for her legions of international fans. The looks are as bold as any she's worn, and clearly pay homage to a pantheon of powerful female archetypes – including, of course, a nod to her own past glories.
The MDNA show kicks off dramatically: Madonna is cast as a holy crusader with rifles and a hijab, converging both the militarism of the Re-invention Tour era (seen below) and the singer's ongoing interest in religious conflict. She's a sinner, she says, and she likes it that way. She soon breaks into the murderous fantasia Gang Bang, from the new record, which sees her assailing a series of wrongdoing males. Well, she did promise us couture, blood, and bruises! Of course, though, she prevails, ending the first set with a shattered crucifix and vanishing into a blinding white light.
The looks, the sounds and the mood are very intense. In fact, while her latest album turns heartache and mortal confusion into supreme ear candy, it plays out much more darkly onstage than you might expect –thanks, in part, to her arsenal of daring costumes. Among the most striking looks is a modern interpretation of what the immortal warrior saint Joan of Arc might wear on a future crusade; fittingly, Madonna wears it during Like A Prayer, imbuing the song with a new urgency.
Arianne Phillips, who created the ominous ensemble from metal mesh and Swarovski crystals, continues her influence over the design direction of the tour, as she has for the past four Madonna world tours. Since 2008's Sticky & Sweet tour, the spectacle has only grown more massive. "This show is epic and bigger than anything she’s done before. There are many more costume changes. We’re taking 700 shoes on the road. Madonna changes outfits seven or eight times and the dancers change 10 to 15 times, depending on the dancer," Phillips told WWD. She even costumed the singer's children, who have supporting stage roles throughout the show.
It's not all sinister, however: another notable new MDNA wardrobe staple is Phillip's sporty majorette look, which suits MDNA's pop squad vibe, and plays off the athletic themes Madonna explored with both her Confessions and Sticky & Sweet outings; while the former tour saw Madge embody glam roller disco queens and elegant equestrians (seen above), the latter explored boxing and youthful streetwear, a theme cheeky designer Jeremy Scott continues on the MDNA tour in his dancer costumes. But even though these are playful looks, they wardrobe a sardonic moment in the show where Madonna expertly blends her own Express Yourself with Lady Gaga's "Born This Way," adding the inevitable "she's not me!" jeer at the end. Everyone will get it.
Where her followers amiably tease and play, Madonna confronts and subverts, and will always revel best in risque iconography. That includes what she's admired and emulated – an Emma Peel-leaning "Super Vixen" catsuit worthy of a spate of iconic villainesses is worn through "Human Nature" – and what she's memorably created, as in Jean Paul Gaultier's ingenious revisitation of 1990's Vogue bullet-bra in a menswear ensemble. This time, the iconic look is even leaner and meaner: it comes equipped with a stern looking skeleton corset. Noting its masculine/feminity duality, Gaultier explains to WWD, "We played with the ideas of a suit and a corset. But the corset is now like a cage." He added, "I love Madonna. She is the only woman I have asked to marry me. She refused, of course. But when she asked me to do a costume for her for this tour, I couldn’t refuse."
One thing Madonna seems to have moved on from is parading as a rock star. On past recent tours – most specifically 2001's Drowned World tour, where she dressed as a guitar-wielding punk cowgirl (seen above) – she made a point to pluck out acoustic interpretations of her hits while wearing plaid, leather and spikes, gestures many regarded as entirely unnecessary. We don't come to Madonna for rock & roll, nor any of its wardrobe trappings. We come to her for an unparalleled super pop spectacle, and that's what MDNA, as an album and tour, set out to prove: no one does provocative pop better, and no one, even now, looks c0oler doing it.
Madonna blows fans away after keeping them waiting
More than 22,000 Madonna fans braved the heat last night to see their idol's first performance in the Arab world.
The entertainer, who is known for her daring and extravagant performances, was as controversial as ever as she took to the stage at du Arena on Yas Island.
Boos and cat whistles rippled through the arena, getting louder and louder, as impatient fans were subjected to more than an hour of Michael Jackson songs while waiting for Madonna to appear.
She finally came onstage at 10.40pm - more than 90 minutes late.
Muna Ismail, a Canadian fan, was shocked by the delay. "I don't understand what's happening," she said. "Is she ever coming out?"
Twitter was also being bombarded by disgruntled fans, including Samantha Dancy, who tweeted: "1 hour and a quarter Madonna - the boos are only going to get louder - it's very sweaty out here!"
The 53-year-old singer finally kicked off the show, the first of two concerts in the capital, to the sound of a chiming church bell and dancers clad in red monks' cloaks.
The five-minute intro was dripping with religious iconography as a massive gold-coloured Catholic thurible, teeming with smoke, swung over the heads of the audience.
Madonna appeared on stage wearing a black veil, gold crown and a skin-tight black catsuit, after pretending to smash a window with a large rifle.
The singer, who was bursting with energy and looking fit as ever, started her set with the upbeat Girl Gone Wild, from her new album, accompanied by male dancers who had thrown off their cloaks and were dancing shirtless.
"All right, Abu Dhabi, are you ready?" she shouted.
The ensuing performance featured gunshots and violent, bloody images on the stage screens. The singer also performed elaborate stunts and acrobatics.
Many fans said they were blown away.
"She's amazing!" said Carol Lopez, 23, from the Philippines. "I love the fact that she is still making concerts like this after so many years."
The months leading up to the concerts had been dominated by questions of whether it would be too hot for a concert of this calibre. Temperatures have been reaching the mid-40s in recent weeks.
Madonna made mention of it.
"Ladies and gentlemen, it's too damn hot!" she said. "But we're going to have some fun anyway."
Many people were fanning their faces, but took it in their stride. "Yeah, it's pretty warm, but then I did expect this, so it's not a big deal," said Ayesha Deepak, 35, from India.
A cooling dome with mist had been erected by the event's organisers for revellers to keep cool, but some fans said it was not working for them.
"The mist is not very cold. I can hardly feel it," said Fiona, 16, who lives in Dubai.
The show marked the latest expansion to du Arena, formerly Yas Arena. Although there was an increase from one to four entrances for fans, queues were still an issue for those with general admission tickets.
Tarek Ghanem, from Jordan, queued for almost an hour. "I was expecting it to run smoother than this," he said.
Inside the venue, fans were lounging about on the newly laid grassy areas that had replaced the previous gravel.
A new central public plaza had shops selling Madonna merchandise - the Dh150 T-shirts being the most popular, according to the sales staff at the counter.
Abdullah, a 25-year-old fan who had come from Bahrain to see the concert, said he had been "so excited for months" to see Madonna since he bought a ticket online in February when they went on sale.
"I was one of the few lucky ones who managed to get a ticket online," he said.
There were surprisingly few people carrying banners at the concert, but some, including Azza Yahia, 33, from Lebanon, and Lamya Tawfik, 35, from Egypt, were dressed in full Madonna gear.
"We're big fans of Madonna," said Azza, who had even painted the singer's famous black beauty spot on her face.
Sales staff were meandering through the venue selling cold towelettes for Dh15 each, and a few air-conditioning machines blowing cold air attracted some people trying to cool down.
Water bottles were sold as a two-for-one deal for Dh10 at seven stations scattered throughout the venue and many people were wandering around cradling four or more bottles.
However, one of the booths had an electricity problem, so the water was warm, and the water booth at the general admission entrance had run out by 8.30pm.
All the pieces in the elaborate stage set-up, including lighting, sound equipment and 120 technicians, had been flown to Abu Dhabi in three Boeing 747s.
The tour is the singer's first performance in the Middle East during her 30-year career, and was the second concert of her 86-date tour, during which she will perform in more than 30 countries.
A WOMAN dressed in leather murdering men with a Kalashnikov rifle in the Paradise Motel sounds more like a Quentin Tarantino film than a pop concert.
But this is the opening night of a Madonna world tour — controversy isn't just expected, it's what the punters pay handsomely for.
In the middle of her gig she even made an impassioned plea for everyone to work for peace in the Middle East and around the world.
After 30 years setting the bar for her rivals, the Queen Mother of Pop has proved yet again that Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Beyonce, Britney and Katy Perry still have their work cut out to match the greatest female pop star in music history.
MDNA — her play on words for the drug MDMA — is an assault on the senses from the off, featuring a great mix of the classic hits, new material and the standard world-class choreography.
It's also the first time she has involved her kids, Rocco Ritchie and Lola Leon, in the full production.
Rocco is a star of the show, cropping up in five numbers break-dancing and singing — including with a gospel choir for Like A Prayer.
The tour rumbles on until December so his old man Guy might be having a word about keeping focus on the school books.
Rocco is 12 in August but is starring in a show that could easily, in parts, earn a 15 rating. During the gig, he sees his mum stripped nearly naked and tied up in a corset by a dancer, then dragged around the floor.
His older sister Lola was even closer to the sex-shop clobber, working backstage in the wardrobe department at Thursday's show. It must be quite an education with the bondage outfits, chains and lingerie.
The show kicks off with a religious theme — dancers dressed like Vatican guards swinging a giant incense canister around the stage in front of a huge crucifix.
The crowd erupted as Madonna emerged on stage in a curtained prayer room, suspended on a wire, as dance hit Girl Gone Wild from her latest album kicks in.
Guns play a prominent part in the dark opening. One of her rarer tracks, Revolver, is brutal stuff, with dancers taking aim at the crowd while images of shattered skull, blood and brain splash across screens.
The Paradise Motel scene launches with wailing sirens as Madonna slurps Jack Daniel's in a grotty room, before she kills intruders in a vicious fight. It's Kill Bill meets Pulp Fiction. Gripping stuff.
I've seen Madonna doing her Re-invention tour, Confessions, Hard Candy and Sticky & Sweet — this one is up there as the best. In the earlier gigs I saw her get the electric chair and introduce Parkour and The Percolator dance move to the world.
This time, her new craze is Slacklining, a cross between tight-rope walking and trampolining. She gives it a spin herself, while singing live.
Lil Wayne, dressed as a bishop, and Nicki Minaj, dressed as a nun, have cameo roles on giant video screens. Minaj shouts: "There's only one Queen and that's Madonna."
A few billion people might disagree on Monday, pal.
Her Madgesty has a subtle dig at Lady GaGa in a mash-up of Express Yourself and Born This Way.
She even gives a cheeky flash of her underpants, while dressed as a majorette, poking fun at Miss Germanotta's love for revealing her undercarriage.There's a clever trick in the production for new track Turn Up The Radio.
The giant screens flash back through footage of Madonna's career as she tries to find the right frequency for the song — earning some of the biggest cheers of the night.
On the Confessions tour, she had a thing for gypsy rockers Gogol Bordello. This time she has Spain's Basque trio Kalakan performing. Some of the fans around me used it as a chance for a toilet break.
Madonna has redesigned her famous conical bra for a reworked version of Vogue in a steamy sequence that merges into the erotic Candy Shop.
It's unusual to see a stripped-down version of any of her songs but she performs Like A Virgin lying on the floor singing with only a pianist for company on stage. But club anthems I'm Addicted and I'm A Sinner, from the new album, get things fired up again for the climax.
The chart icon has been hammered for charging a fortune for tickets but it's well worth the money.
I've given her some stick for maybe flashing a bit too much flesh for a 53-year old — but she throws herself into the show like a teenager and is fitter than most people half her age.
There is no encore, possibly because she broke the 11pm curfew by 40 minutes and now faces a hefty fine from the authorities in Tel Aviv.
Not that Her Madgesty and her Kalashnikovs care — she's just delivered another world-class show her fans will lap up.
THE pop queen's boyfriend, Brahim Zaibat, is one of the lead dancers and performs a fair few steamy routines with her... organisers had to build a special tent backstage for the dancers to practise tightrope walking ... the costumes are designed by Arianne Phillips, who did the outfits for Madge's film W.E.
HER Madgesty played to 35,000 people on her opening night in Tel Aviv's Ramat Gan Stadium. By the time she's finished her MDNA world tour, she'll have performed in front of more than two million... she is performing a total of 86 shows – 32 on the current leg, followed by 43 on her North America stint starting in August, and 11 in South America from November... the show is coming to the UK next month. The first gig is in Hyde Park on July 17, followed by Birmingham, Edinburgh and Dublin.
Nobody puts on a show quite like Madonna! No one even comes close!
With a career spanning 30 years, she is still the undisputed Queen of Pop! An entertainer whose showmanship is unparallelled! Her meticulous work ethic and perfectionism is evident in everything she does and especially evident in her tours, like the one she kicked off in Tel Aviv on Thursday night.
The MDNA tour is a love story. A story of love gone wrong! An exploration of the many sides of love. But especially the dark side. The MDNA show is dark. Very dark. And those rays of light she sprinkles throughout the show come as some much needed relief.
Madonna is exorcising the demon of Guy Ritchie from her spirit. Quite literally! This show is ALL ABOUT HIM, just as the MDNA album is all about her failed marriage. And, understanding Madonna as well as we do, we were expecting her to do many songs off the new record. And she did. That may be something a more casual fan will have issue with. The MDNA tour is light on old school Madonna hits.
Clocking in at an hour and fifty minutes, the show begins with Madonna in a church. Religious themes, which she has explored throughout her career, are also a consistent in this new show.
As monks kick things off with a religious chant that eventually morphs into a chant of her name, the Queen descends from the heavens in a pulpit, as if in confession. She is seen only in shadows. When she is finally revealed and she goes into the first song, Girl Gone Wild, she is dressed in all black and armed with a big automatic weapon.
She is starting off with a bang! Literally. Clearly sending a message here!
The production is the biggest Madonna has ever done. With moveable pieces and blocks, the stage is constantly changing shape. So impressive! We don't think that's ever been done before! Especially not that way!
Up next was Revolver. More guns. More violence. More darkness. And a video cameo by Lil Wayne!
Things got even darker, yup, REALLY DARK, during Gang Bang, where Madonna is on the run from the law. A criminal. A cold-blooded murder. Emphasis on the blood. Lots of blood is shown. Lots of backup dancers killed by Madonna.
Some pretty heavy stuff, right?
A full-on fight between Madonna and one of her dancers ensued, choreographed so adroitly. It was exhausting us watching her be so physical!How does she do it? Superhuman!
She was full-on, all-out and balls-to-the-wall!
What a way to kick off a show with these three songs back-to-back!
There was one thing, though, we did have a troubling concern with about the way Madonna performed these three songs. Clearly a choice, her microphone had an effect on it for these beginning songs that made her sound almost computer-like. It was a bit off-putting for us. Thankfully, that vocal "effect" was only for that beginning segment.
Poppa Don't Preach was next. Only it was just a tease! She only performed just a little bit of the song!
The slackline from the Super Bowl performance came out. And now it was Madonna's turn to use it during Hung Up.
That was followed up by I Don't Give A, featuring Madonna on guitar and a fierce video cameo by Nicki Minaj!
Then came time for a costume change. Heartbeat was the music for the interlude, which had a video accompaniment but was mainly about the contortionists working the front of the triangle-shaped stage. After which…
The first moment of levity!
Express Yourself. Classic Madonna anthem! The queen in her cheerleader outfit! The first time she wore color! Red and white.
This was also the first moment in the show where she seemed to loosen up and seemed to be having more fun. This also was the moment in the show where she mashed up Express Yourself with Lady GaGa's Born This Way and her own She's Not Me.
There was baton-twirling! M was having a ball!
Quickly after came Give Me All Your Luvin. There was a flying marching band! Literally! Her dancers were suspended high above and bangin' the drums! It was sick!
The energy during this two-song segment was OUT OF THIS WORLD! It was definitely the climax of the show and a moment that could not be topped.
We think closing with Express and Luvin may have been more effective!
Up next was a video montage of some of Madonna's greatest moments. Outfit change. Back in black. Then came Turn Up The Radio. M on guitar again. The energy was still super high! Those awesome blocks, the moveable stage pieces, were really shown off here.
This was followed by a tribal (not in the electro sense) percussive reworking of Open Your Heart, featuring a cameo by Madonna's son, Rocco.
This was very similar to the La Isla Bonita segment during the Sticky & Sweet tour. Yes, a lot of people are stealing from Madonna… and she's even stealing from herself! There were a some approaches to songs, the way she presented them, that felt very familiar to ways she's done songs on tour in the past.
Open Your Heart started off small and intimate but opened up and ended up growing to be quite huge!
Then, Madonna addressed the audience in Tel Aviv for the first time, explaining why she chose to start her world tour in Israel.
"If there is peace in the Middle East, then there can be peace in the whole world," she said.
She added that: "We are all human beings. We all want to love and be loved. We need to rise above our egos and our titles. Treat every human being with dignity and respect. If we don't, we will never have peace."
She said she hoped beginning her tour in Tel Aviv was a message for peace. "No conflict can ever be resolved by causing pain to another human being," she buttoned her speech as she segued into Masterpiece.
After this moment of slowing things down, another costume change and an AMAZING Justify My Love video interlude. We wish she would have performed the song in the show, though!
Some Jabbawockeez-inspired dancers took to the stage during the Justify video.
Then, it was time to Vogue! Back in black for a costume change, though paired with a balancing white shirt.
This was a super fun, gay, camp version of Vogue. It was very Eyes Wide Shut.
This was the first time M used a head mic. And she even changed her hair up!
Afterwards, it was off to the brothel for Candy Shop. We LOVE Madonna, but that song felt very self-indulgent. This could have been a moment to appease the more average fans with an old school hit.
Candy Shop was fun, though, and even had a hint of Erotica.
Then, she wipes her pussy (in character) - quite literally - and launches into Human Nature, with mirrors all around her.
Nopes, she's still not sorry!
Then, the shirt comes off for a very revealing (in my ways) version of Like A Virgin. With just a piano accompanying her, this was the heart of the show! It's as if Guy Ritchie was standing in front of her and she was singing directly to him.
It was so dramatic!
At one point during the song, a backup dancer puts a corset on Madonna, zips her up and then quite literally sucks the air out of her as he pulls the strings of the corset so tight she can barely breath!
Powerful stuff! Revelatory! Or so we are reading into it! Ha
That was followed by a Nobody Knows Me video interlude, complete with a tribute to Tyler Clementi and other teens lost too soon. Once again, very powerful stuff!
Another costume change. M pops up in a diamond robe. New hairdo too.
I'm Addicted and a Kung Fu moment was next, which was very reminiscent of Sky Fits Heaven from the Drowned World tour.
This was followed by I'm A Sinner, which was just okay. Madonna was on the guitar, wearing a garland of flowers, and gave a very hippy-inspired rendition of the song. Projections were displayed on the blocks to make them look like buses. It all felt very '60s and we wish she would have done Beautiful Stranger here instead.
Three male singers, a vocal group M hired to join her on the tour and a constant throughout the show, came back for this song and they did some chanting.
Then, a big choir and Like A Prayer. While not as epic as her Super Bowl performance, it still went over so well! Such a timeless song! One of the best pop songs ever written!
That would have been a great moment to end the show with (or with the Express Yourself/Give Me All Your Luvin' twofer), but Madonna came back for Celebration, which felt kinda anticlimactic. The audience wasn't that into this song and it kinda fell flat.
Knowing Madonna as well as we do, though, now that she has exorcised the demon of Guy Ritchie out of her system, her next tour will be much lighter and hits-heavy, like Re-Invention or Confessions tour.
Like we said at the beginning, though, nobody puts on a show quite like Madonna! No one even comes close!
We genuinely loved MDNA! We enjoyed it more than the Sticky & Sweet tour! And we can't wait to see it again! Several times!!!
Kicking off tour, Madonna shows she's no lady (Gaga)
Pop superstar Madonna kicked off a new world tour on Thursday wishing peace on the Middle East even as she showcased grim dance routines depicting violence and bloody gunmen among her more colourful numbers.
Madonna, 53, mixed hit songs over three decades in music with tunes from her recent album, MDNA, before a packed audience, and she took a sly dig at younger diva, Lady Gaga.
"She's not me!" Madonna sang at the end of Express Yourself, which she had reworked to include a sampling of Lady Gaga's recent "Born This Way."
That song from Lady Gaga, who emerged on the pop music scene about four years ago and has enjoyed a huge following in recent years, has been cited by many music fans and critics as being very similar to Madonna's late 1980s dance club smash.
Since Lady Gaga, 26, released "Born This Way," fans and music lovers have speculated that a generational challenge was in the works between the two women and comedians have poked fun at any imagined rivalry between the two.
Despite occasional light-hearted touches such as a baton-twirling routine in cheerleader formation and a psychedelic homage to Indian philosophy, the dominant mood at Thursday's concert in Tel Aviv seemed more grim with a stage shrouded in black and red and costumes that often appeared ominous.
Like a Virgin, a dance tune that helped propel Madonna to stardom as risqué pop ingénue in the 1980s, was performed as a mournful cabaret with violin accompaniment. At one point, the singer was trussed up and hoisted into the air by four male dancers, then lowered onto a platform as though into a volcano - a virgin sacrifice.
For Gang Bang, Madonna wrestled with armed intruders whom she then dispatched with a pistol - their "blood" spattering across an enormous video backdrop. In a routine for Revolver, she wielded a Kalashnikov rifle, used by many modern-day insurgents, while one of her dancers favoured an Israeli Uzi.
The exertions never sapped her confident singing, though she did become somewhat breathless during remarks to the audience at Ramat Gan stadium on Tel Aviv's outskirts.
"I chose to start my world tour in Israel for a very specific and important reason. As you know, the Middle East and all the conflicts that have been occurring here for thousands of years - they have to stop," she said to cheers.
A devotee of Jewish mysticism, Madonna had dubbed the first leg of her 28-country MDNA tour the "Peace Concert" and distributed free tickets to some of the Palestinians who attended from the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Among them was a woman named Yasmine, who declined to give her last name in light of Palestinian calls to boycott the Madonna concert and other cultural events in Israel. She offered a mixed assessment of the show.
"I wasn't a fan of the intro. It was too aggressive and massacre-like," Yasmine said. "Her (Madonna's) speech about peace and the mention of Palestine was heartfelt, though."
Avihay Asseraf, an Israeli who dedicated a Facebook page to Madonna's visit, was more sanguine about the darker displays.
"That's how she chose to express herself this time," he said. "Ultimately this is a show, a spectacle, and it's all for fun."
Blood, guts and guns as Madonna kicks off world tour
Dark Catholic imagery was spliced with blood, guts and guns as Madonna burst onto the stage at Tel Aviv's Ramat Gan stadium late on Thursday to kick off her hotly-anticipated MDNA world tour of some 30 countries.
The portentous tolling of a church bell opens the first set with bare-chested monks in burgundy robes swinging a giant golden censer in front of a giant red cross.
A plainchant melody turns into a Hebrew prayer as monks rise out of the floor, mixing Jewish and Catholic imagery as the Material Girl rises in silhoutte, shattering the backscreen as she launches into Girl Gone Wild.
Guns feature heavily in the next two numbers, Revolver and Gang Bang with the Queen of Pop and her dangers repeatedly 'firing' into the audience with a variety of guns, as huge images of empty bullet casings fall to the ground.
"Bang bang, shot you dead, shot my lover in the head," she sings as brains splat onto the back screen behind her in a number which ends with her shooting down one of the dangers and flinging the gun onto the floor.
Several songs later, the tone changes as Madge transforms into a red-and-white clad majorette, with her signature conical bra making an appearance in Vogue, a monochrome number which blurs the gender lines.
This time, it appears as a cage-like bustier over a white shirt complete with black tie and trousers: office-wear -- Madonna style.
In between sets, she addresses the audience, urging Israelis to end the conflict and seek peace.
"I chose to start my world tour in Israel for a very specific and important reason," she said, to wild applause and cheering.
"You can't be a fan of mine and not want peace in the world," she said. "We all bleed the same colour."
"If we can all rise above our egos and our titles and the names of our countries and our religions, and treat everyone around us with dignity and respect, then we are on the road to peace.
"If there is peace here in the Middle East, there can be peace in the whole world."
Excited fans were already pouring through the gates when they opened some four hours before the 9:45 pm (1845 GMT) start, with all 32,000 tickets sold out.
Turning heads at one of the main entrances was 41-year-old Cocoa Chandelier. Six-feet tall -- "without the heels" -- and with a boufant easily adding another foot, she said she had never missed a single of Madonna's concerts.
"It's quite appropriate that it's starting here in Israel. She has adopted this culture and religion," Chandelier told AFP, dressed in copious quantities of fluorescent plastic beads and earrings to match.
"That's why we've come all the way from Hawaii -- to support her."
Israeli fan Carmit Zindani, 32, beamed: "There is simply nothing bigger than Madonna starting her world tour here in the Holy Land. She is one of us."
"She's a real queen, this is very exciting," said Roma Ryabchikov, a 26-year-old lawyer who flew in specially from Moscow.
The eye-popping extravaganza marked the start of the 53-year-old Queen of Pop's ninth world tour and her first since her "Sticky and Sweet" outing in 2008/2009.
From Israel, she is to move on to Abu Dhabi and then to Europe and the Americas before ending in early 2013 in Australia, where she has not performed in more than 20 years.
Kicking off her latest tour in Israel was a natural choice for the Catholic-born singer, who over the past decade has become deeply involved in the Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah.
Since then, she has been back to the Jewish state several times, on both public and private visits, last performing here in 2009 .
Officials said her two older children -- 15-year-old Lourdes, and 12-year-old Rocco -- would also take part in the show.
"This show is epic and bigger than anything she's done before. There are many more costume changes. We're taking 700 shoes on the road," her costume designer and stylist Arianne Phillips told the WWD website.
"Madonna changes outfits seven or eight times and the dancers change 10 to 15 times, depending on the dancer," she said.
Although all 32,000 tickets were completely sold out, a day ahead of the performance, the diminutive diva briefly met with members of the Palestinian Israeli Peace NGO Forum and handed them 600 tickets.
Since she arrived in Israel late on Friday on an El Al flight from New York, Madonna has reportedly spent much of time rehearsing, praying or attending Kabbalah events.
Her partner Brahim Zaibat, a French-Algerian model in his 20s, also flew in with her, as did her four children, Lourdes, Rocco, David and Mercy, with pictures of them enjoying the beach splashed across the newspapers.
More than 4,000 fans have flown into Israel to attend the concert, with each paying from $62 (50 euros) for a ticket up to $620 for a VIP package.
The Tel Aviv show is reported to have cost $3.9 million (3.1 million euros).
As for the outfits, Madge has signed up a list of designers including Jean Paul Gaultier, Jeremy Scott, Alexander Wang, Dolce & Gabbana, Fausto Puglisi and J Brand.
She was also due to wear Prada and Miu Miu shoes, as well as footwear and lingerie from her Truth or Dare line.