The Material Girl gets Bucharest Into the Groove

Newsroom 31/08/2009 | 15:28

Madonna came to Romania with a concert that became possible after the diva extended her Sticky & Sweet tour – the highest grossing tour by a solo artist – to promote her latest album Hard Candy, released in April 2008. The overall costs of organizing the tour worldwide amounted to no less than EUR 30 million, according to Chris Lamb, Madonna's production director. Sticky & Sweet is the eighth worldwide concert tour by the American singer, which is estimated to have so far grossed USD 280 million as of December 2008. With this tour, the superstar broke her own record, surpassing her Confessions Tour which grossed USD 194.7 million.

In Romania, the concert was organized by EMag!c Entertainment and sponsored by Vodafone as part of Vodafone Best Music. Madonna arrived in Romania the afternoon before the day of the show. Although reservations were made in four hotels – Novotel, JW Marriott, Radisson SAS and Athenee Palace Hilton – for the singer and her staff, the diva checked into the Radisson SAS Hotel accompanied by her daughters, Lourdes and Mercy, as well as her boyfriend Jesus Luz and her personal staff. She was a discrete presence and only appeared briefly at a window, although fans were waiting in front of the hotel trying to catch a glimpse of her.

Although the concert started at nearly 10 pm, Madonna left the hotel in the afternoon with her staff, heading to Izvor Park for a sound check. The area around the park started to get crowded as early as 6 pm while she was still rehearsing. DJ Paul Oakenfold had the mission of warming up the public before the pop sensation took the stage. She appeared a little before 10 pm, greeting the public with “Hello Romania!,” opening her show with Candy Shop, Beat Goes On, Human Nature and Vogue. After addressing the public again, with “How are you feeling, Bucuresti?”, she continued with remixes of her famous tracks Music, La Isla Bonita, Like a Prayer, Frozen and Ray of Light.The show was split into four episodes – “Pimp,” “Old School,” “Gypsy” and “Rave” – for each of which the artist and her dancers changed outfits.

One of the highlights of the show was the Michael Jackson tribute during the first half when the pop diva inserted a section of Jackson's Beat It into her classic track Holiday, while one of her dancers imitated the late megastar's dance moves. A moment during the track She's Not Me, when she kissed one of her female dancers, was a re-enactment of her famous kiss with Britney Spears. During her gypsy act, Madonna played her famous song La Isla Bonita in the presence of a Roma orchestra, and called for everyone to respect the rights of minorities including Romas and gay people. All in all, the artist played 24 songs, the last of which was her recent success Give It to Me which ended the show. Next, she will be playing Sophia and two shows in Tel Aviv.

More than an entertainment act, the pop icon's performance required an unprecedented deployment of forces. The stage arrived from Gothenburg and was set up over almost a week on an area of approximately 5,000 sqm. It was made up of two modules and had a height of 35 meters, a depth of 30 meters and was 60 meters wide in total. The technical equipment necessary for the show weighed approximately 5,000 tons, which included the stage, stalls, bars, backstage area and VIP area. The sound came from 160 speakers and the images were projected onto screens of 120 sqm. A team of 1,200 people worked on the location numbered. It takes approximately three days to take the stage down and wrap things up. “The capacity of the location is 60,000-70,000 people, so we believe the number of people present will be within this range,” Dragos Chiscoci, communication manager at Emag!c Entertainment, told Business Review the day before the concert.

Negotiations with the artist's management started a year before the concert was actually announced. “Generally artists do not offer preferential prices for certain countries. What we can do is to try to find sponsors and in this way try to keep the prices at a level which is acceptable for Romania. We had the cheapest ticket from the entire tour, which amounted to EUR 28, compared to other countries where the ticket was EUR 50-60,” said Chiscoci. While the concert went without a hitch as far as Madonna's performance was concerned, some of the spectators complained about the dust, the queues they had to wait in to buy drinks and the fact that even though they had paid a fair price for their ticket, they could not see the artist properly.

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