23 July 2012

“I know Madonna it’s all show biz!”

Madonna fans across Australia gave a massive sigh of disappointment last week as the singer's concert promoter, Live Nation, confirmed the cancellation of the unconfirmed MDNA tour, but did not give any reason.

Madonna was due to confirm summer dates earlier this month but delayed the announcement until after the Olympics. The pop star has bypassed Australia on all of her world tours since the 1993 Girlie Show, citing logistics and financial reasons for the no show.

Reports in Australian media suggested that stadiums had already been booked in Sydney and Melbourne for next year's leg of the MDNA tour. There was speculation that the tour became unviable due to high ticket costs and a crowded concert market. "Madonna's tour will end in South America in December as planned. That's all we can say," a spokesperson said.

Fans went crazy on social media voicing their disappointment and some rage. But we need to look at this in the light that it’s all show biz and the biz part is all about making the sums work – and for Madonna at this stage of her career it’s a big ask. And quite frankly she has never forgotten 1993.

In 1993 Madonna was the biggest female star in the world. She released The Immaculate Collection in 1990 and it enjoyed a whopping 23 million sales worldwide. This includes the two huge singles Rescue Me and Justify my Love. This was followed by the Sex book which caused a huge stir and the release of Erotica in 1992. Erotica only sold 5 million copies worldwide but went 3 times platinum in Australia which in the scheme of things was considered a good portion per-capita. It was on the back of this that The Girlie Show was to come to Australia.

Sydney went absolutely mad for weeks leading up to her November visit. I and nine friends had all bought tickets and we spoke of nothing else for weeks in readiness. On the night of 19 November 1993 we headed off to the Sydney Cricket Ground as huge rain clouds circled us for hours. The weather in Sydney had been very wet in the week preceding the show and the papers were full of copy about the precious cricket oval coping with the wild Madonna fans.

The 50,000 crowd went crazy as the show began, but we soon realised we had almost no sound, the strong wind blowing across the oval was wiping the sound out of the place. Only the people in the expensive front seats and those in the cheapest at the very back of the stands could hear anything. To top it off the stage had a long catwalk to a satellite stage that was eight steps down from the main stage and when she and the cast stepped down onto the catwalk we could only see from their shoulders up – a total disaster.

A friend of mine had a week long love affair with one of her dancers and when I was introduced to him at Gilligan’s a few nights later he told us - Madonna was furious after coming all this way that she got such a poor reception. But sorry, really, after all the hype, couldn’t see and couldn’t hear...

The second night was to be filmed for DVD and got washed out – luckily they had filmed the first night as a ‘safety show’ and had to use that – not what an artist known for perfection wants. I watched The Girlie Show Live Down Under just the other night and it’s still one of her best and definitely the most theatrical - go figure.   

And so Madonna has bad memories of her Sydney visit – well snap, I was hoping all would be rectified with MDNA down under and yes I’m disappointed a second time.

Madonna is the only female artist in the club that has more than 300 million CD sales, along with The Beatles, Elvis, Michael Jackson, Elton John and ABBA.  You don’t achieve that if you aren’t on top of the biz – all this old showgirl wanted was the show.

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