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Madonna wanted to “feel more connected” to audience on ‘Celebration Tour’, says stage designer

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Madonna‘s stage designer has said that she wanted “feel more connected” to the audience on her current ‘Celebration Tour’.

The Queen of Pop recently kicked off her greatest hits tour at The O2 in London last month which saw her perform over 40 songs from her back catalogue including her most famous hits and a number of deep cuts.

Speaking about the tour, Ric Lipson of architecture firm Stufish told Rolling Stone UK: “She knew that she wanted to base the show through the eyes of her being spiritually born in New York City. From the early days of landing in Times Square and going down to the Lower East Side, CBGBs and the clubs, the places she hung out when she was young. Her concept of the show then evolved into a geography that would lay out the whole city.


“But she’s always wanting to do something different and asked how we could do an arena tour that didn’t feel like Madame X or previous arena tours. But also one that felt correct for the way people are touring at the moment. Since 2015, social media has completely changed in the way that people are consuming things through their phones and taking shots of things. So for us, it was all about how do we display and portray Madonna in a different way that also makes her feel more connected?”

Madonna performs during opening night of the ‘Celebration Tour’ at The O2 Arena on October 14, 2023 in London CREDIT: Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Live Nation

As NME‘s Nick Levine noted in his five star review of the show, it features “a series of spectacular set-pieces referencing iconic highlights from Madonna’s reign – ‘Vogue’ is presented as a raucous ballroom extravaganza; the Bjork-penned ‘Bedtime Story’ leads into ‘Ray Of Light’, spotlighting her ’90s electronica era. Coupled with a fiendishly detailed sound mix from producer Stuart Price, which fills each intro and segue with snippets of Madgebangers that didn’t make the setlist, there is a huge amount to take in.”

At one point during ‘Live To Tell’ she also travelled across the arena on a flying platform while photos of all the close friends she lost to AIDS were shown on the surrounding screens.

“She knew she wanted to sing that song and she knew she wanted to sing it for those people,” Lipson added. “It’s [the platform] like a time machine. The first time she uses it is when she’s looking back at the eighties and it’s a very powerful moment, which for me is one of the most emotional things I’ve seen in a pop show. Ever.”

Musical director Stuart Price previously said they felt it was important that the icon’s singing on her current tour is “all live vocal”.


He added at the time: “There’s a couple of spoken word sections in the show where we just use track. But it’s all live vocals; there’s backing singers – there always has been – but it’s all live vocals. I hope that you hear the humanness of the vocal coming across as well.”

Over the weekend, reports suggested Madonna will headline Glastonbury Festival next summer alongside Dua Lipa and Coldplay. Organiser, Emily Eavis has since responded saying the reports are “untrue”.

The icon is due to kick off the North America leg of her tour at Brooklyn Barclays Center in New York on December 13. You can find any remaining tickets here.

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