Madonna begins delayed Celebration Tour with career hits and rarities

This is the first time the pop star has been on tour without a new album to promote

Madonna performs during the opening night of The Celebration Tour at the O2 Arena in London. Photo: Live Nation
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Madonna’s anticipated The Celebration world tour kicked off in London on Saturday, after a four-month delay caused by a bacterial infection requiring hospitalisation.

The pop star, 65, was reportedly in rude health during her first of four shows at The O2 Arena, where she performed back-to-back hits from her four-decade career.

Amid the anthems, she also took a moment to acknowledge the escalating Israel-Gaza War.

"There's a lot of really crazy things happening in the world that are so, so painful to witness," she told fans.

"But even though our hearts are broken, our spirits cannot be broken."

What is The Celebration Tour?

Madonna is looking back to go forward.

After four decades of pushing the envelope in all aspects of her artistry, from production to marketing, Madonna seems finally ready to embrace her status as a heritage act.

Hitting the road for the first time without a new project to promote, The Celebration Tour is dedicated to Madonna’s greatest hits.

It is also part of a multi-year campaign that began in April to mark her 40 years in the industry, including the staggered releases of "deluxe editions" of all 14 solo albums, in addition to live albums and compilations.

What is on the set list?

Judging by the London show, it should be a dream gig for fans.

Beginning with 1998's Nothing Really Matters, the 33-song set seemingly leaves no stones unturned when it comes to Madonna anthems.

Some of the songs featured include the 1980s pop classics Holiday, Into the Groove and stately ballad Live to Tell.

Rarely performed songs were also delivered, such as Justify My Love and Mother and Father, both played for the first time since 1993 and 2004 respectively.

Where can you see The Celebration Tour?

At present, the arena tour extends until April.

After Madonna concludes her four night-stand at The 02 Arena, the show rolls on across western Europe and Scandinavia until December 6, taking in major cities including Barcelona, Paris, Milan and Amsterdam.

The North American leg begins on December 13 in New York before ending with four concerts in Mexico City on April 24.

It remains to be seen if The Celebration Tour will extend to Asia and Australia, regions where Madonna occasionally performs.

Updated: October 15, 2023, 9:29 AM