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Madonna’s last album, American Life, was one of her worst-selling. Her last film, Swept Away, was a resounding flop. Her makeover as the world’s most famous Kabbalist and honorary English countrywoman is typically bold, but does not promise much in terms of great pop music. The vultures may not be circling the most successful female singer yet, but they are beginning to take an interest in her career.
Her “Re-Invention” tour answers doubters with a hi-tech spectacle and a set drawn from more than 20 years of hits (unlike the last time she toured in 2001, when she played mainly new material).
Having begun the tour in the US, she launched the European leg in her adopted homeland at the weekend, when she showed a flattering appreciation for the finer points of Britishness, such as wearing a T-shirt reading “Brits Do It Better”. “It’s true, I should know,” she added, in Mrs Guy Ritchie mode, perhaps hoping no one present had seen her wearing an “Italians Do It Better” T-shirt during her American shows.
The tour’s theme of reinvention refers to her incessant changes in image, the most recent being her announcement that she had changed her name to Esther as a result of her growing interest in Jewish mysticism. At 45, she has left behind the extrovert Catholic iconoclasm of her youth and replaced it with a new emphasis on inner life and occult spirituality a point underscored by the start of her concert which opened with a tape of Madonna (or Esther) sententiously reciting verses from the Book of Revelation. For those of us who don’t go to see Madonna to be enlightened about the end of the world, this was an ill omen. But suddenly Esther’s spectre vanished as the singer emerged on stage wearing a diamante slip and thigh-high black boots, contorting her body to the beats of ‘Vogue”. The lyrics about artifice and striking a pose neatly inverted the show’s apocalyptic opening, proof that her self-projection as a performer is as astute and brilliantly choreographed as ever.
The concert ran as smoothly as a Broadway show. During costume breaks we were kept entertained by a fire juggler, a skateboarder and frenetic break-dancers. Madonna’s outfits were more muted than on previous tours no conical bras), but the staging of her songs was imaginative, sometimes eccentrically so. Why she sang a syrupy ballad from Evita strapped in an electric chair was unclear, while the use of a kilted bagpiper and Highland drummers on “Into The Groove” was even more curious. By giving one of the key hits of the 1980s an unsettling Brigadoon vibe, she provided a compelling argument against pop stars getting married in Scottish castles.
Her most arresting piece of choreography came when she and her dancers dressed up as soldiers to perform a hyper-charged version of “American Life” in front of pictures of injured civilians in Iraq and Vietnam. The polemic was crude but bold. It was as if Madonna and her well-regimented dance troupe were trying to reclaim pop from the US military, which has been known to use loud rock songs as a psy-ops tactic. (It is ironic that there has been so little prominent anti-war pop music during the Iraq conflict, yet such widespread use of it as an instrument of war.) A mawkish version of “Imagine” took the gloss from her politics, and seeing her sing piously about imagining a world without possessions while charging “20 for a tour programme was disgraceful.
But other attempts to inject seriousness and maturity into her music had more success. “Like A Prayer” was given a gospel backing that preserved the song’s exuberance yet added a fresh sense of tuneful sanctity, and “Material Girl” took on added weight with Madonna playing guitar, looking every inch the principled singer-songwriter. She ended with a trio of songs that emphasised how full of life and relevant her music continues to be. “Papa Don’t Preach” bounced along, “Music” juddered past and segued into her finale, a cleverly updated, techno version of “Holiday”. Escapist and fun, it also struck conscientious notes with lyrics such as “Come together people in every nation”.
Madonna’s desire to tackle big themes can lead her down some dubious musical byways into some trite sentiments but it has also freed her and given new impetus to her work.
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Madonna visit to Israel confirmed

Madonna and her husband, filmmaker Guy Ritchie, will spend Rosh Hashana in Israel, it was confirmed Monday by Rabbi Yehuda Berg, co-director of the Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles.
The couple will spend two days, primarily at the associated Kabbalah Centre in Tel Aviv, Berg said.
However, he denied Israeli press reports that Madonna and Ritchie would meet with Kabbalah sage Rabbi Yitzhak Kadouri while in Israel to seek spiritual guidance.
Madonna, who recently adopted the Jewish name of Esther, has been a frequent visitor at the Los Angeles Kabbalah Centre and has taken courses there. Her series of children’s books, the latest of which was published last month, claims the Kabbalah and Judaism as inspiration.
Britney Spears, Demi Moore, and Paris Hilton have also taken classes, Berg confirmed.
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Madonna tickets not in vogue ?

As Madonna begins her latest British tour, her fans, who last time offered four-figure sums for a pair of seats, are proving less enthusiastic.
The pop diva kicked off her previous British tour at the peak of her powers, but years on, she seems to have lost some of her sparkle.
Tickets were failing to meet even their face value as sellers cut their losses to take what they could as they traded on the online auction site eBay.
A pair of seats for her London shows on the Reinvention Tour later this month, which had originally cost more than GBP300 ($831), raised just GBP140 at the close of bidding, and some tickets for the show failed to attract a single bid.
Some sellers had posted messages on the website to say they were resigned to making a loss on someone who was once one of the world’s biggest box-office draws.
Tickets were still available at the box office for some of her shows. However, a spokeswoman for Madonna said that was due to extra capacity becoming available as the venues finalised their staging requirements.
Sales for the pop queen’s shows got off to a good start, although it is thought many buyers simply may have been snapping up tickets for re-sale following the clamour to see her Drowned World tour in 2001 for which tickets were changing hands for GBP600 each.
The shows – like all Madonna performances, more of a visual spectacular than a gig – were her first major dates for eight years and followed two acclaimed albums, Ray of Light and Music, which once again made her one of the coolest stars on the planet. Her latest dates are on the back of a flop, the critically panned American Life album.
Shows outside Manchester and London were expected to get far less than the actual cost of GBP75 to GBP160 for seats.
Radio 2 presenter Paul Gambaccini believed the poor reception for last year’s album was the root cause of the lack of interest.
“In popular music no one is as dead as someone who is recently dead, and Madonna has just had her first stiff album. It might have had a high chart entry but it disappeared quickly.
“There will come a time when she will sell out quickly again but that is because people will be viewing her in the context of her historic career achievements. They are currently viewing her in the light of the album’s failure.
“I’m not bothering to see her. I saw her on the Vogue tour. I know I’ve seen her at her peak so why see her flogging a dead horse?”
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Madonna has a L3K day of pampering for birthday

Madonna is reportedly splashing out 3,000GBP on a day of pampering for her best friends to help celebrate her birthday.
The Queen of Pop, who is currently on the British leg of her ‘re-Invention’ tour, turns 46 today (16.08.04) and wants to treat her friends to the luxurious health treatments at some of her favourite London spas.
A source told Britain’s Daily Mirror newspaper: “She is really generous and just figured that as she has been on tour she fancied a relaxing birthday.
“And what better way to do that than to have a real ‘Sex and the City’-style day out with her best friends.”
The mother-of-two has reportedly booked several different places, including Covent Garden’s Sanderson Hotel and the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Knightsbridge to have the treatments, as she wants to be able to relax in peace.
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Madonna Opens European Tour in Britain

Madonna kicked off the European leg of her “Re-Invention” tour Saturday with a crowd-pleasing show for 14,000 British fans.
Wearing black hot pants, a sequined silver top and knee-high black boots, the material girl mixed classics like “Holiday” and “Vogue” with tracks from her recent album “American Life” during the show at the Manchester Evening News Arena.
Tickets for Madonna’s two Manchester dates the first in Britain since 2001 sold out within an hour of going on sale in May.
Madonna is due to perform again in Manchester on Sunday, followed by five nights in London and shows in Dublin, Paris, the Dutch city of Arnheim and Lisbon, Portugal, where the tour ends Sept. 14.
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Madonna Wows Fans in Boots and Hotpants

Madonna wowed thousands of fans with a dance spectacular tonight as she kicked off the European leg of her Reinvention Tour.
The star was at the Manchester Evening News Arena in the city for the first UK date of the tour – a mix of classic songs like Holiday from her early days with recent tracks from her American Life album.
Madonna, 45, has thrown off her bullet bras in favour of a more grown-up show.
It was lit with moving LED screens showing the singer in heavy costume as she spoke a passage called The Beast Within.
Thousands of fans stood clapping and screaming as she came up through the floor on a moving stage to sing her hit Vogue.
Wearing black hotpants, a sequinned silver top and knee-high black boots, Madonna belted out the songs surrounded by backing singers and dancers.
She then took to a moving conveyor belt at the front of the stage to perform Nobody Knows Me.
Madonna is set to play tonight and tomorrow in Manchester before taking the tour to London, Ireland, The Netherlands and Portugal.
Manchester last welcomed the singer in 1984 when she played at the Hacienda Club, but she has not been in the north of England since 1987 when she performed at Roundhay Park in Leeds as part of the 1987 Who’s That Girl Tour.
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Madonna’s Gigs Are ‘too Hot’

Madonna fans have hit out at the superstar after she turned down the air conditioning at shows during her Reinvention tour.
The Material Girl has received numerous complaints from members of the audience, who say her gigs were too hot to enjoy the performance.
But it’s not just the fans that are feeling the heat – her dancers have also complained about their sweaty working conditions.
But John Page, director of Wachovia Centre – where Madonna played on the 4th and 5th of July – insists that, hot or not, the fans still had a fantastic time.
He says, “We limited the air conditioning during the show and it warmed up a bit, but everyone got Into The Groove and enjoyed the Holiday”.
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Manchester debut for Madonna

Madonna will kick off the European leg of her world tour later in Manchester.
All 14,000 tickets for the Material Girl’s first UK performance as part of her Re-Invention Tour sold out within an hour of going on sale in May.
Madge will perform two shows in the city’s MEN Arena before playing five in London and one in Dublin. She will then move on to play the remaining dates in mainland Europe.
Ticket prices for the Manchester gigs started at GBP75 and ranged up to GBP150.
The last time the queen of pop performed in the city was in 1984 at the legendary Hacienda night spot, which has since closed down.
Fans will undoubtedly hope to hear a few of her classic hits such as Vogue, Material Girl, Like A Prayer and Poppa Don’t Preach, mixed in with her latest songs.
Only one Manchester date was originally planned but a second was added following huge public demand for tickets, bringing the total number of performances in the tour to 56.
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Lady of the manor takes on the world

As you read this, an articulated truck should be winding its way to Manchester, laden with glittering Victorian-style bustiers, hot pants, stockings, matching pairs of customised underpants which spell out the word “Freedom”, T-shirts proclaiming “Kabbalists do it better”, designer army fatigues and a range of somewhat self-defeating mini-burkhas, cut off at the buttocks.
The vehicle in question is Madonna’s wardrobe truck for her Reinvention world tour, which arrives this weekend for eight arena dates in Manchester and London.
The convoy also includes a 50-ton revolving stage and more than 100 personnel, including 12 dancers, one skateboarder, one bagpipe player, five musicians and an astonishing 56 security guards. I don’t know if she is expecting trouble, but, since the first batch of tickets sold out within two hours, it seems unlikely she will be facing a hostile crowd.
These are practically homecoming dates for the 45-year-old mother of two. Indeed, since the US leg of her tour wound up in Miami last month, Madonna has been spotted out and about in London, jogging in Hyde Park and, in cloth cap and tweeds, visiting The Punchbowl pub in Mayfair with British husband, Guy Ritchie.
As Madonna’s typically idiosyncratic take on English fashion suggests, the Michigan girl has embraced a quaint, Hollywood version of England, mixing working-class, salt-ofthe-earth aesthetics with aristocratic pretensions, as if Bertie Wooster had become landlord of the Queen Vic.
When not supping pints down her local, Madonna retreats to her stately pile on the Wiltshire/Dorset border, where she has recently been engaged in the time-honoured country house pursuit of trying to ban ramblers. Yet, for all her newly acquired aura of stately decorum and domestic harmony, one can never entirely shake the suspicion she might be entirely naked beneath her Barbour jacket.
After 20 years in the spotlight, Madonna carries a lot of baggage. Yet such is her propensity for image makeover that her past does not so much define as obscure her. Peculiarly for such a public figure, there is no consensus on what lies behind the ever-changing facade.
In her heyday, outraged publications regularly used to ask “Who does Madonna think she is?” These days, it is more germane to ask if anyone still cares.
Madonna’s last album, American Life, an attempt to weld polemical statements to fractured disco beats, failed miserably. Panned by critics and ignored by the public, it became her first major release to fail to break the million mark.
This greatest-hits tour has been widely viewed as an attempt to re-establish her place in the pop pantheon. Initially greeted with enormous scepticism in the US, the tour has become the sellout success story of the summer, and this despite ticket prices of more than $300 for the best seats.
“The tour was certainly deemed a commercial success but critically it got mixed responses,” according to Anthony De Curtis, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone magazine. “I think that, after a long successful run, the lustre has gone off her in the US. But I don’t think anybody could quite make sense of what she was trying to do with her shows. Even the very title seems a little redundant.”
But she does seem to have assembled yet another stirring spectacle. The Washington Post called it “a new performance hybrid, one that lifts and blends elements of Broadway, Cirque du Soleil, Rock the Vote rallies, art installations, extreme sporting events, church sermons, disco dances and gun-spinning military drills. For a few songs, it even looked like a rock concert.”
However, critics seemed universally baffled about what exactly the Reinvention tour was all supposed to represent, with Madonna apparently finding no contradiction following the anthem of self-interest Material Girl with a hippie strumalong of John Lennon’s Imagine, all set to footage of war-ravaged children.
An anti-war theme runs through the show, but The Washington Post accused her of jumping on this particular band wagon long after it had trundled out of Iraq.
“Gutsy? Not at this point, now that it’s safe to stand against the administration. Madonna would earn points for courage if last year, at the time of the US invasion, she hadn’t yanked the video for American Life, which ridiculed Bush as a warmongering nincompoop.
“No doubt Madonna was worried she’d get Dixie Chicked – that country threesome paid dearly for criticising the president last year. Madonna’s finger-wagging felt like catch-up, and it was turned into a Miss Saigon-style dance number that trivialised its own point of view.”
But someone whose ventures into the world of publishing are as sharply contrasting as a book of erotica and a stern children’s morality tale is unlikely to be embarrassed by having her contradictions pointed out.
“There’s a lot of mixed messages,” Madonna said after the launch of her tour in LA. “It would take me hours to explain them. Come back and see the show again.”
The critics have also noticed that there is less sex on this tour than ever before: the bullet bra has been replaced by an age-appropriate corset and the bedroom bump and grind of earlier shows has given way to yoga demonstrations.
“The last time she really made an impact in the US was when she kissed Britney at the MTV awards and everyone got a chance to say how exploitative it was, just like the old days,” says De Curtis. “It’s sort of funny. For years, everybody complained that ‘Madonna’s shock obsessed’. Then on this tour everybody was saying, ‘Gee, where’s the sex?’ I think people were a little let down that she was kind of acting her age for once. That’s the last thing anyone expected.”
Madonna’s old infatuation with decadence has largely given way to an obsession with physical and spiritual health. Her concert rider demands 25 cases of Kabbalah blessed water backstage, and there are no shows on Fridays due to her observance of Shabbat.
But searching questions were asked by a senior recording industry executive and personal acquaintance of Madonna. “At the very heart of the Kabbalah is the idea that what you put out, you get back. So I wonder what she gets out of that, because she is not a generous person.
“She is the Margaret Thatcher of pop. Her entire philosophy is about self-belief and selfmotivation. She has never thanked anyone who ever worked for her. Her vibe is ‘You are lucky to work for me’. Which is great; she’s a tough woman and people love it, but I can’t figure out how that fits with this new hippie shtick, because I don’t think there’s a hippie bone in her body. She’s punk rock, all the way.”
The contrast between Madonna’s boy-toy past and new-found political idealism and religious conviction seem to be at the core of the sceptical response of US critics.
The question raised time and again is why should Madonna be taken seriously, just because she takes herself seriously?
As baffled or amused as the US critics might have been, they did concur with her loyal fans on one point: Madonna’s latest shows are never less than entertaining. “Here’s the weird part,” said The Washington Post. “It’s not a mess. It’s actually kind of amazing.”
Rolling Stone went further, proclaiming that her latest reinvention was perhaps the most surprising of all: “The 45-year-old, whom few have ever taken seriously as a musician has matured into a truly great pop singer.”
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Like a vintage

Big-heatrted Madonna has uncorked some of her vast wealth to save her dad’s struggling wine business.
The singer has stumped up a fruity half a million pounds to prevent Ciccone Vineyard closing down, because hubby Guy Ritchie loves their wine so much.
Guy is mad on Tony Ciccone’s 2002 Dolcetto and Pinot Noir wine, so he persuaded his mega-rich wife to inject cash into the vineyard.
A pal of the singer, who reached No3 in 1984 with Like A Virgin, said: “Madonna hasn’t always had the best relationship with her father but she is very close with him now.
When she learned the company wasn’t doing so well she decided she wanted to step into the fray.
But Tony is a very proud man and didn’t want to accept charity, so he made her a major shareholder in Ciccone Vineyard. She was a little reluctant at the start but Guy is a huge fan of the Pinot Noir Tony has been sending them bottles at Christmas for years.
He couldn’t bear to be without it, so he convinced Madonna to put some money in.
The Ciccones have a huge vineyard in the Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan, in the States.
Madonna has always kept her distance from the company, but Tony approached his daughter when it started going through a lean patch.
Pals of the star say she was dithering on the deal until wine-lover Guy convinced her.
She then wrote a cheque for nearly half a million pounds and became the major shareholder.
The Material Girl may have bucketloads of money but at least she’s generous with it. She donates to loads of charities and gives huge amounts of her cash to the Kabbalah faith.
In fact she has just forked out GBP12million to set up a Kabbalah school in New York. Madge doesn’t drink much alcohol herself. Although she enjoys the odd glass of wine, her favourite tipple is Guinness.
But she’s been abstaining altogether since starting her amazing Reinvention world tour, to cope with the huge physical demands of her stage show.
Madge is currently in Britain for the tour’s UK leg and she was snapped jogging around the grounds of her Wiltshire estate with her trainer and Guy.
She was obviously keeping in top shape for her gruelling concert schedule.
Guy, on the other hand, might just be working off the effects of a session on his beloved Ciccone Dolcetto.
source : sun


Madonna’s new book to be released in Russia on her birthday

Madonna’s new book for children entitled “Yakov and the Seven Thieves” will be released in Russia on the singer’s birthday, August 16th. Pop star’s third book for children was released worldwide on June 21st. Madonna’s new creation instantly entered The New York Times best-seller list.
The third book, as the two previous ones – “The English Roses” and “Mr. Peabody’s Apples” – became bestsellers both in Europe and in the USA. “The story is about how all of us have the ability to unlock the gates of Heaven – no matter how unworthy we think we are. For when we go against our selfish natures, we make miracles happen, in our lives and in the lives of others,” says Madonna about her piece of work.
“Yakov and the Seven Thieves” has been published in 110 countries of the world, and translated into 38 languages. The book was illustrated by Russian artist Gennady Spirin, who is considered to be the best contemporary illustrator of Russian classics. The work of one of the world’s best artists to illustrate children’s books was perfect to fit the setting of a small town in East Europe, where the action of Madonna’s book takes place. Gennady Spirin says “Yakov” teaches children compassion, first and foremost.
Madonna’s fourth book of the series entitled “The Adventures of Abdi” will be released worldwide in November 2004.
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