x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

The greatest show on Earth

We have the lowdown on what to expect when the Queen of Pop makes her debut performance in the UAE.

Madonna, centre, during her opening show in Tel Aviv on Thursday. Jim Hollander / EPA
Madonna, centre, during her opening show in Tel Aviv on Thursday. Jim Hollander / EPA

The tour

It is the most-anticipated musical solo tour since ... well, Madonna's last record-breaking global trek with her Sticky and Sweet Tour of 2008-09.

The MDNA Tour is destined to be her biggest in terms of the production and number of performances. The Material Girl will play 84 shows this year, spread across four legs including Asia, Europe, North and South America. Since announcing the shows, more than 1.4 million tickets have been sold and an array of sold-out stadiums awaits Madonna in both Europe and America. The MDNA Tour is on track to set the record for the highest-grossing solo tour of all time, a record held by the Sticky and Sweet Tour.

The songs

No need to spoil the surprise by stating the set list from the tour opener last Thursday (due to the show's intricate choreography, Madonna rarely changes set lists), but it is fair to advise one to get acquainted with the new MDNA album as singles Give Me All Your Luvin and Girls Gone Wild feature, in addition to deeper album cuts. Of course, many classics will receive an airing, but they will surely receive a makeover as Madonna reportedly gets bored playing old songs in original form.

The costumes

Madonna's wardrobe features designs by a who's who of the fashion world, including Jean Paul Gaultier, Jeremy Scott and Alexander Wang. More than 700 shoes are going on the road, including designs from Prada and Miu Miu. According to the tour's costume designer Arianne Phillips, Madonna and her dancers will be busy both on stage and behind the scenes. "Madonna changes outfits seven or eight times," she told Women's Wear Daily. "The dancers change 10 to 15 times, depending on the dancer."

The venue

It is not the performance alone that is set to be revelatory. Over the past few months, the du Arena has undergone an expansion and the results will be unveiled tonight. A team of more than 150 staff have been working around the clock to lay 12,600 square metres of turf, put down 6,200 square metres of tarmac, build five new entrances in addition to adding 2,500 extra car parking spaces. By the way, this is all before the four jumbo jets were due to fly into Abu Dhabi, carrying Madonna's pyrotechnic and lightning gear, stage props and LED screens. When Madonna sets foot on stage, the venue will be using more than 7.5 megawatts of power through 35 kilometres of electricity cable; basically, enough juice to power a small village.

Water at the end of the tunnel

A 24-metre cooling tunnel has been built specifically for the show. and 44 cooling misters will spray more than 3,000 gallons of water to cool revellers down. Dress sensibly and leave the slipping and sliding to the dancers, thanks.

What to look out for

Going to work with mum may be an unappealing prospect for an 11-year-old, unless mum is a pop icon who routinely steps on stage in front of thousands of screaming fans. During Madonna's tour opener in Tel Aviv on Thursday night, her performance featured her son Rocco on stage as a dancer in one song, while in another track, he switched to backing singer. No doubt Rocco will receive a rapturous welcome if he travels to Abu Dhabi. While merchandise details for the Abu Dhabi shows have not been revealed yet, the promoters FLASH indicated T-shirts, posters and the MDNA album will be available in stalls, with prices ranging from Dh30 to Dh150. See you there!

Madonna plays tonight and tomorrow at du Arena, Yas Island. Doors open at 7pm and Madonna is set to appear on stage at 9pm. Tickets are still available for all categories for both shows and start from Dh495. For details and tickets, go to www.thinkflash.ae