Madonna has resumed her Madame X world tour in London, after cancelling dates in Portugal and the UK due to injury.
The star took to the stage wearing knee supports but otherwise refused to make concessions to the “indescribable” pain she has recently been experiencing.
She performed high kicks, yoga poses and even the splits during a highly-polished, two-and-a-half-hour show.
And she told fans she was “happy to have made it” to the Palladium after scrapping her first UK show on Monday.
“How could I not do a show in London?” she added.
he Palladium seats just 2,286 people – which made Wednesday night’s show Madonna’s smallest-ever full-length concert in the UK; and her first time on the West End since appearing in David Williamson’s Up for Grabs in 2002.
It provided a chance, she said, for a more “intimate and thrilling” artistic experience.
As a result, the audience were required to store mobile phones in sealed pouches as “an intervention for us all”. However, Madonna admitted that even she was getting anxious without a phone nearby.
“I’m having little panic attacks,” she joked. “I’m like, ‘Why is no-one taking my picture?'”
But the gambit worked: Freed from distractions, the audience gave the concert their undiluted attention; while Madonna seemed to relax and have fun without a phalanx of tiny cameras recording her every move.
At one point, she slipped into a British accent and recalled how she’d been ridiculed for developing similarly plummy vowels during her marriage to Guy Ritchie.
“I didn’t know what anyone was talking about until I heard old interviews of myself,” she said. “And then I was horrified and flabbergasted. Why did you let me do that to myself? I’m from Michigan!”
“It’s all Guy Ritchie’s fault,” she decided. “He made me to it.” (Perhaps because of the theatre setting, the crowd booed her ex like a pantomime villain).
The off-the-cuff banter made Madonna, who’s often been perceived as imperious and stand-offish, seem refreshingly accessible. But that looseness was often at odds with the heavily-conceptualised musical segments.
The heart of the show had to do with Madonna’s life in Lisbon, where she moved in 2017 to support her son David’s aspirations as a footballer (“yes, I’m a soccer mom,” she accepted).
Uprooting the family wasn’t easy, she said, and she struggled with loneliness until David gave her an ultimatum: “You’re pathetic, you’re chubby and you need some friends.”
In Madonna’s retelling, she found friendship and sustenance in Portugal’s fado clubs, where “I took my loneliness and turned it into something good”.