The singer launches the 10th tour in her 30-year career. Check out the special report by Folha with everything you need to know about the popstar’s concerts.



09/09/2015 - 7h00


The pop world is rejoicing. Shrouded in suspense, Madonna will launch this Wednesday (9), in Montreal, Canada, her latest world tour, the Rebel Heart Tour, promoting the album she released in March. Over the course of the past three decades, the singer has become an expert in this type of mega event that combines music, theater, video, dance, fashion, visual arts and, obviously, controversy.

 This multimedia special celebrates the popstar’s 30 years on stage. Looking back on the styles and performances that have become seminal, see why Madonna’s concerts represent the essence of pop culture and an important part of its legacy.

Illustration: Bruno Oliveira Santos






US$ 5 millions*


Number of shows:


Albums promoted:

“Madonna” (1983) and “Like a Virgin” (1984)


the virgin tour





US$ 25 millions*


Number of shows:


Albums promoted:

“True Blue” (1986) and “Who’s That Girl” (1987)


Who's That Girl Tour





US$ 62 millions*


Number of shows:


Albums promoted:

“Like a Prayer” (1989) and
“I'm Breathless” (1990)







US$ 70 millions*


Number of shows:


Album promoted:









US$ 76 millions*


Number of shows:



drowned world Tour

Albums promoted:

“Bedtime Story” (1994), “Ray of Light” (1998) and “Music” (2000)





US$ 125 millions*


Number of shows:



Re-Invention Tour

Album promoted: “American Life" (2003)





US$ 194 millions*


Number of shows:


Album promoted: “Confessions on a Dancefloor” (2005)







US$ 408 millions*


Number of shows:




Album promoted: “Hard Candy” (2008)





US$ 305 millions*


Number of shows:




Album promoted: “MDNA” (2012)






Number of shows:


Album promoted:

"Rebel Heart"(2015)



“American Life”

Re-Invention Tour (2004)

At the peak of her mystical and political period, the singer reinvents herself as a war general and sings the title track of her latest album in a battle scene complete with soldiers and religious figures, attacks against former president Bush, plus a suspended bridge that carries her out to the audience.


“La Isla Bonita”

Sticky and Sweet Tour (2008)

“La Isla Bonita” is one of the songs most performed by Madonna on all her tours, and here she demonstrates the longevity of the track with the help of violins, Gogol Bordello and a gypsy tent atmosphere recreated on stage.


“Open Your Heart”

Who´s That Girl Tour (1987)

In the opening performance of her first world tour, Madonna starts the concert appearing only in silhouette before recreating the climate and narrative of the video of “Open Your Heart”, including paintings by Tamara de Lempicka projected on the screen.



Drowned World Tour (2001)

After eight years without touring, Madonna returns to the stage focusing on her more recent repertoire. She ended the concert with “Music”, her most brilliant song of the 2000s, in a festive atmosphere with a sample of Kraftwerk and wearing a “Mother / Fucker” T-shirt.


“Into the Groove”

The Virgin Tour (1985)

Accompanied by just two dancers and a tambourine, on her first tour Madonna already demonstrates a stage presence and charisma, especially in this performance of one of her best songs of the eighties


“Hung Up”

Confessions Tour (2006)

One of the best endings of any of the singer’s tours. Against a seventies disco backdrop, dressed only in a bodysuit and dancing on top of a boombox, Madonna ends the concert by encouraging the audience to sing along to the hit that took the world by storm with the help of ABBA.



MDNA Tour (2012)

Any performance of “Vogue” will always be spectacular, but here Madonna outdoes herself, using not only incredible projections by the Moment Factory group, but also choreography inspired by the voguing of House of Ninja and an updated version of the classic cone bra from the Blond Ambition Tour


“Express Yourself”

 The Girlie Show (1993)

In her most theatrical tour, Madonna created a segment inspired by seventies hedonism and appeared on stage seated on a giant mirror ball and dressed in a hippie costume with an afro wig, accompanied by her ever-present backing vocals of the time.



“Like a Virgin”

Blond Ambition Tour (1990)

The velvet bed, the androgynous dancers, the cone corset by Gaultier and the simulated masturbation that almost got Madonna arrested in Canada and excommunicated in Italy. It doesn’t get any more classic than this.



“rebel heart tour”

Hardly any information has leaked and Madonna successfully managed to withhold until the day of the concert the surprises that were prepared during long months of rehearsal. The speculation ranges from the choice of the set list to the themes chosen for the “acts” into which the concerts are divided – a characteristic of all her tours. In addition to the traditional combination of themes such as sex and religion, the projections developed by the Canadian group Moment Factory and a segment inspired by the work of Frida Kahlo, the singer’s muse, promise to be some of the most interesting elements of the performances.

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    The Virgin Tour (1985) - Conservative parents were appalled by the influence that the singer had on their daughters, who attended the tour’s concerts in huge numbers dressed in the “vagabond chic” style adopted by Madonna in this stage of her career. For the song “Like a Virgin”, Madonna appeared on stage dressed as a bride.

    Who’s That Girl Tour (1987) - Madonna begins her crusade on AIDS prevention awareness, with safe sex messages projected on a big screen at her concerts, and including images of politicians and religious figures on the track “Papa Don’t Preach”. Behind the scenes, conflict and turmoil in her marriage with the actor Sean Penn.

    Blond Ambition Tour (1990) - Sex and religion are the themes of the second segment of the concerts, which begin with “Like a Virgin” and Madonna simulating masturbation on a velvet bed. Afterwards, the backdrop shifts to a church in which the singer cries out to God singing “Like a Prayer” accompanied by dancers dressed as priests and nuns

    The Girlie Show (1993) - Madonna outdoes herself in the eroticism and choreography with sexual insinuations. Besides using a topless dancer to open the concerts with “Erotica”, she begins the song “Why’s it So Hard” in a simulated orgy on stage before calling on the audience to reflect on the effects of AIDS in “In this Life”.


    Drowned World Tour (2001) - Dressed as a geisha and a ninja warrior, Madonna flies around the stage singing “Sky Fits Heaven” and “Mer Girl” with a shotgun with which she “kills” one of her dancers. Violence also sets the tone for the videos of “Paradise (Not for Me)” and “What it Feels Like for a Girl”, which contain strong animated scenes.

    Confessions Tour (2006) - In an attempt to raise the public’s awareness about African child AIDS victims, Madonna appears on stage hanging on a mirrored cross wearing a crown of thorns to sing “Live to Tell”. Then two of her dancers bearing symbols of Israel and Palestine dance to “Forbidden Love”.

    Sticky and Sweet Tour (2008) - During the tour, Madonna impressed her fans with an even more muscular physique, raising speculation about possible exaggerations in her physical preparation and cosmetic procedures. During “Into the Groove”, she uses a skipping rope on stage and puts her stamina to the test at age 50. Behind the scenes, she divorces the filmmaker Guy Ritchie.

    MDNA Tour (2012) - At a concert in Istanbul, Madonna pulled down one of the cups of her bra during the song “Human Nature”. When in France, the singer targeted the leader of the far right, Marine Le Pen, for criticism by depicting her in the video for “Nobody Knows Me” with a swastika superimposed on her forehead. In Russia, which has anti-gay laws, she challenged the authorities by speaking out in favor of the LGBT community and wearing the mask of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot.

    Rebel Heart Tour (2015) - The tour has barely started and protests have already erupted against the use of religious images associated with profane contexts, such as dancers pole dancing dressed as nuns. As we can see, sex and religion are still the most recurring themes in Madonna’s career.


    On the Rebel Heart Tour, Madonna and her troupe will wear outfits designed by Gucci, Moschino, Miu Miu and Swarovski, as well as costumes by Alexander Wang, Fausto Puglisi and Nicolas Jebran. But things weren’t always like this. On her first tour, the singer’s simple outfits and the tinkling accessories were designed by the legendary stylist Maripol and by the costume designer Marlene Stewart, who was also responsible for the outfits for Madonna’s next tour and for many of her music videos in the eighties. In 1990, on the Blond Ambition Tour, the singer worked with the French designer Jean Paul Gaultier, who opened the door for her to the world of haute couture. The stylist Arianne Phillips took over control of the designs for the past few tours.

    Corset by Gaultier for the costume for “Express Yourself”.

    Costume by Gaultier for the song “Keep It Together”.


    Costume by Dolce & Gabbana for “Vogue” on the Girlie Show Tour.

    Figurino de Dolce & Gabbana para “Vogue” na turnê “Girlie Show”.

    Costume by Dolce & Gabbana for the Girlie Show Tour.


    Costume by Dolce & Gabbana for the Girlie Show Tour.


    Corset by Dolce & Gabbana for “Justify My Love” on the Girlie Show Tour.


    Costume by D-Squared for the country section of Drowned World

    Bodice designed by Christian Lacroix for the Re-Invention Tour

    Costume by Gaultier for the third section of the Confessions Tour

    Costumes by Gaultier for the Confessions Tour

    Costumes by Ricardo Tisci for the Sticky and Sweet Tour.

    Costume by Jeremy Scott for the Sticky and Sweet Tour.


    Costume by Ricardo Tisci, of Givenchy, for the Sticky and Sweet Tour.


    Cone corset by Gaultier for the MDNA Tour inspired by her own creation from 1990.


    Costume inspired by Frida Kahlo for the Rebel Heart Tour



    It’s become something of a tradition: Madonna always includes at least one cover or sample in the set list of her concerts, paying tribute to her musical influences or incorporating new artists. Discover on the adjacent playlist some of the most emblematic songs included by the singer in her earlier tours.


    See a selection of the coverage by Folha, since the early eighties, of Madonna’s tours.

    Acervo Folha

    Uma delícia chamada Madonna (23.06.1985)

    Madonna surpreende nos EUA (25.07.1987)

    Vasco derrota Madonna por 3x1 na Itália (12.07.1990)

    Madonna investe em novos arranjos e inspiração teatral (10.10.1993)

    Madonna se multiplica por 6 (12.06.2001)

    Madonna se reinventa para nova turnê (28.05.2004)

    Como um rolling stone (02.06.2006)

    Doce e escorregadia


    No palco com Madonna (04.12.2012)


    Madonna has played in Brazil on three of her world tours. In November 1993, one month after Michael Jackson was in the country with his “Dangerous” tour, the singer performed two “Girlie Show” concerts in Brazil, in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, to record audiences. Fifteen years later, in December 2008, Madonna returned to the country on her “Sticky and Sweet” tour for five sold-out concerts in the same two cities. In December 2012, with high-priced tickets and a set list that drew heavily from her latest album, the singer took her “MDNA Tour” to Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Porto Alegre for four concerts that were less packed than the previous tours. To date, no information has been released about the possibility of the “Rebel Heart” tour coming to Brazil.

    Madonna wraps herself in the Brazilian flag during rehearsals for the “Girlie Show” tour.


    At the first concert, in São Paulo’s Morumbi stadium, Madonna sang the last song of the evening wearing a Brazilian national soccer jersey, and she also performed “The Girl from Ipanema” in English. At Maracanã stadium, in Rio de Janeiro, she wore the jersey of local team Flamengo.


    At the concerts for the “Sticky and Sweet” tour in Rio and São Paulo, the singer repeated the gesture and wore the Brazilian jersey for the concert’s final song.

    During her last appearance in Brazil, for the “MDNA Tour”, the singer once again followed the same protocol, this time for the song “Like a Prayer”.


    Em “Veni Vidi Vici”, de seu último disco, Madonna fez o impensável: olhou para trás e discorreu sobre sua trajetória na Big Apple, narrando sua transformação de boêmia do Lower East Side a popstar mundial. Das espeluncas em que morou ao chegar na cidade na década de 1970 ao Madison Square Garden, onde se apresentará na próxima semana em dois shows com cobertura da Folha, Madonna percorreu um longo caminho. Confira ao lado um mapa especial para quem quiser peregrinar pelos principais locais frequentados por Madonna em Nova York no início de sua carreira em sua jornada ao estrelato.

    Design: Alex Kidd

    Textos: Renato Barreto
    Ilustrações: Bruno Oliveira Santos

    Animação: Giovana Bressani

* Source: Billboard Boxscore

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