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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 16 August 2018

Timeframe: Madonna’s sweltering summer set at du Arena

The American singer heats up a sizzling Abu Dhabi with two shows on her MDNA Tour

Madonna brought a new level of performance to Abu Dhabi with a two-show stop on her MDNA tour. Lee Hoagland / The National
Madonna brought a new level of performance to Abu Dhabi with a two-show stop on her MDNA tour. Lee Hoagland / The National

Six years ago this week, American singer Madonna brought her MDNA tour to Abu Dhabi. It was somewhat unprecedented for the capital to host such a big concert in the summer, but the "Material Girl" booked the stop as part of her 80-date tour schedule across the Middle East, Europe and the Americas. She stopped in Abu Dhabi for two shows at the du Arena, which had at that time been rebranded and was undergoing expansion.

Tickets for the shows sold out within hours and extra tickets were added for the first concert just days before the show. The National reported at the time that fans had travelled from as far away as Buenos Aires and London, and that Madonna’s stage production – including lighting, stage props, LED screens and pyrotechnics – was flown in on three jumbo jets. With temperatures in the mid-40s, and to keep comfortable an estimated 50,000 concertgoers in two nights in the heat of the season, a cooling system was installed, but many concertgoers complained that it didn’t make a difference.

Italian DJ Benny Benassi, who had produced three songs for the MDNA album, opened both shows, which started more than 90 minutes late, angering the loyal crowd. The song Girl Gone Wild from MDNA started the dazzling and dark set, which featured controversial imagery and themes, tin soldiers suspended from the ceiling, stunts and acrobatics. The temperature rose further when Madonna dug deep into her classic 1980s repertoire, including Papa Don’t Preach, Open Your Heart and Like a Prayer, as well as more contemporary songs, performed across four themed acts.

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