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Madonna’s Celebration Tour Will Feature More Than 40 Songs Comprising a ‘Documentary Through Her Vast Career’

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After pushing back the launch of her eagerly anticipated career-spanning Celebration Tour due to a health scare earlier this year, Madonna is set to kick off the outing at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday (Oct. 14).

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And according to the tour’s musical director, Stuart Price, fans can expect more than 40 songs from across her four-decade career, plus some special surprises that will nod to the pop icon’s legendary impact on pop culture. “A greatest hit doesn’t have to be a song,” Price told BBC News. “It can be a wardrobe, it can be a video, or a statement.”

So whether your jam is “Material Girl,” “La Isla Bonita,” “Ray of Light,” “Frozen,” “Live To Tell” or “Into the Groove,” Price said there will be something for everyone, including archival footage and studio recordings that will help tell the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s story in what he described as “a documentary through her vast career.”

The O2 launch will be the first of six shows at the venue, where Price noted fans will not see a band on stage for the first time since the beginning of Madonna’s career. “There are live musicians that perform at different parts of the show,” he explained. “But what we realized is that the original recordings are our stars. Those things can’t be replicated and can’t be recreated, so we decided just to embrace that.”

Price said honing the set list was a “big” challenge given Madonna’s decades of hits — including 50 No. 1s on Billboard‘s Dance Club Songs chart — so many of the big ones will be played in full, while others will be interpolated into other songs and some will be used as “bridges” between acts. Price, who produced Madonna’s 2005 Confessions On a Dance Floor album and has been music director on three of her previous world tours, added that there will be around 25 songs performed in full, with elements of 20 others appearing in “some form.”

The show will also employ Madonna’s original multi-track recordings, including a vocal take Price said includes the sound of a “car going by in the background,” and, cryptically, a “solo from a guitarist who’s no longer with us.”

The long-awaited beginning of the tour comes nearly five months after Madonna was rushed to the hospital in June after being found unconscious in her New York apartment due to a “serious bacterial infection.” The hospitalization resulted in the tour being pushed back from July to October, with the North American dates — which were originally slated to kick off the run on July 15 in Vancouver — delayed until later this year. The North American dates are now slated to kick off on Dec. 13 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn and run through an April 24 gig at Palacio De Los Deportes in Mexico City.

“The person that is going to take the stage looks incredible, sounds incredible, performs incredible,” said Price of the 65-year-old singer he noted has “fully” recovered. In fact, he said the legendarily detail-oriented star used the three-month delay to further tweak and dial-in the show.

“Madonna has very high expectations of how much hard work people will put into something,” Stuart said. “It’s very uncompromising – but she’s equally as hard on herself. So when she took a break, that pause created an opportunity to further enhance the show. And I’m sure the opportunity [for her] to focus on being 100% well was greatly received as well.”

He described the story line as reflecting the arc of Madonna’s career, “from being a young woman in New York and learning the scene, all the way through to motherhood, spiritual awakenings, and all the ups and downs. The storyline was just really, really compelling.” If that sounds similar to a since-shelved biopic that was to star Julia Garner, Price said that’s no coincidence since Madonna is expert at cross-pollinating ideas from different projects.

“In this case there’d been consideration about doing a biopic [which gave] this tour the potential for having a documentary aspect to it as well,” he said, which explains why the show will incorporate news footage, classic costumes and videos.

Check out Madonna’s tease of the tour launch below.

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