Madonna’s biggest concert ever turns Rio’s Copacabana beach into a massive dance floor

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – Madonna held a free concert on Copacabana Beach on Saturday evening, turning the vast expanse of sand in Rio de Janeiro into a huge dance floor filled with a large number of her fans.

This was the final show of the Celebration Tour, and its first retrospective, Which was launched in October in London.

Madonna performs at the final show of her Celebration Tour, on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, May 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

Madonna performs at the final show of her Celebration Tour, on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, May 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

Madonna performs at the final show of her Celebration Tour, on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, May 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

The “Queen of Pop” kicked off the show with her 1998 hit “Nothing Really Matters.” Huge cheers rose from the raucous, tightly packed crowd clinging to the barriers. Others held house parties in brightly lit apartments and hotels overlooking the beachfront. Helicopters and drones flew overhead, and steamboats and sailboats anchored offshore filled the bay.

“We are here in the most beautiful place in the world,” Madonna, 65, told the crowd. She pointed to the view of the ocean, the mountains, and the statue of Christ the Redeemer overlooking the city, and added: “This place is magical.”

Madonna performs at the final show of her Celebration Tour, on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, May 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)

Madonna performs at the final show of her Celebration Tour, on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, May 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)

Madonna performed her classic hits, including “Like A Virgin” and “Hung Up.” In the intro to “Like a Prayer,” her head was completely covered by a black robe, and she held a rosary in her hands.

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The star paid tribute to “all the bright lights” lost to AIDS as she sang “Live to Tell,” with black-and-white photos of people who have died from the disease appearing behind her.

Later, she was joined on stage by Brazilian artists Anita and Pablo Vittar.

Ryo has spent the past few days preparing herself for the performance.

An estimated 1.6 million people attended the expo, G1 reported, citing the Rio City Hall tourism agency. This is more than ten times the record attendance set by Madonna, which reached 130,000 people at the Parc des Sceus in Paris in 1987. Madonna’s official website described the show as the largest ever in her four-decade career.

A Madonna fan, wearing a mask, strikes a pose during rehearsal for Madonna's The Celebration Tour, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, May 2, 2024. Madonna will conclude her tour on Saturday with a free concert on Copacabana Beach.  (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)

A Madonna fan, wearing a mask, strikes a pose during rehearsal for Madonna’s Celebration Tour, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, May 2, 2024. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)

Fans wait for the start of Madonna's final show of her Celebration Tour, on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, May 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)

Fans wait for the start of Madonna’s final show of her Celebration Tour, on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, May 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)

In recent days, the noise has been palpable. Fans gathered outside the luxurious waterfront Copacabana Palace HotelWhere Madonna is staying, hoping to catch a glimpse of the pop star. During sound check on the stage set up in front of the hotel, they danced in the sand.

By midday on Saturday, fans gathered in front of the hotel. A man with a white beard carried a sign that read: “Hello Madonna, you are the best, I love you.”

Flags with the word “Madonna” printed on the Copacabana’s black-and-white wavy pavement pattern background hang from balconies. The area was packed with street vendors and partygoers wearing themed T-shirts, sweating under the hot sun.

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“Since Madonna got here, I have come every day in this outfit to welcome my idol, my singer, the Queen of Pop,” said Rosemary de Oliveira Buhrer, 69, who was wearing a gold cone bra and a black hat.

“It will be an unforgettable show here in Copacabana,” said Oliveira Buhrer, a retired government employee who lives in the area.

Eighteen sound towers were deployed along the beach to ensure all attendees could hear the sounds. Its two-hour show began at 10:37 p.m. local time, about 50 minutes behind schedule.

City Hall issued a report in April estimating that the concert would pump 293 million riyals ($57 million) into the local economy. Hotel capacity was expected to reach 98% in Copacabana, according to the Rio Hotel Association. The platform said in a statement that fans coming from all over Brazil and even Argentina and France sought to use Airbnbs over the weekend. City Hall said in a statement that Rio International Airport expects 170 additional flights during the period from May 1 to May 6 from 27 destinations.

Artist Rinaldi Borba, dressed as Madonna, takes a selfie with a fan during a rehearsal for Madonna's Celebration tour in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, May 2, 2024. Madonna will conclude her tour on Saturday with a free concert on Copacabana Beach.  .  (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)

People watch a rehearsal for Madonna’s Celebration Tour in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, May 2, 2024. Madonna will conclude her tour on Saturday with a free concert on Copacabana Beach. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)

Madonna fans dance outside the Copacabana Palace Hotel where Madonna is staying before her concert in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Friday, May 3, 2024. Madonna will conclude her tour on Saturday with a free concert on Copacabana Beach.  (AP Photo/Bruna Prado

Madonna fans dance outside the Copacabana Palace Hotel where Madonna is staying before her Celebration Tour concert in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, May 3, 2024. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)

A Madonna fan dances outside the Copacabana Palace Hotel where Madonna is staying before her concert in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Friday, May 3, 2024. Madonna will conclude her tour on Saturday with a free concert on Copacabana Beach.  (AP Photo/Bruna Prado

A Madonna fan dances outside the Copacabana Palace Hotel where Madonna is staying before her Celebration Tour concert in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, May 3, 2024. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)

“It’s a unique opportunity to see Madonna, who knows if she will ever return,” said Alessandro Augusto, 53, who arrived from the Brazilian state of Ceara, about 2,500 kilometers (1,555 miles) from Rio.

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“Hello Queen!” Read the Heineken ads plastered all over the city, the letters above an image of an upside-down bottle cap resembling a crown.

Heineken was not the only company seeking to capitalize on this excitement. Bars and restaurants prepared “Like a Virgin” cocktails. A store in a downtown neighborhood known for selling carnival clothing has completely reinvented itself, filling its shelves with Madonna costumes, fans, flannel bags and even lingerie.

Local authorities said the organization of the huge event was similar to New Year’s Eve, when millions of people gather in Copacabana to watch the fireworks display. The annual event often results in widespread theft and theft, and there has been some concern that such problems might occur at Madonna’s show.

The security plan for Rio state included the presence of 3,200 military personnel and 1,500 civilian police officers on standby. In the run-up to the ceremony, the Brazilian Navy inspected ships wishing to be stationed offshore to watch the show.

A number of large concerts have been held at Copacabana Beach before, including Rod Stewart’s 1994 New Year’s Eve show, which attracted more than 4 million fans and was The largest free rock concert in history, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Many of those spectators also came to watch Rio’s fireworks display, so a comparison may be more apt with the Rolling Stones in 2006, which saw 1.2 million people crowd the sand, Rio’s military police told newspaper Folha de São Paulo. reported at the time.

Ana Beatriz Soares, a fan who was at Copacabana on Saturday, said Madonna has left her mark over the decades.

“Madonna had to run so today’s pop artists could walk. That’s why she’s important, because she serves as an inspiration for today’s pop divas,” Soares said.

“And that was 40 years ago. Not 40 days, 40 months. It’s 40 years,” she said.

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AP video journalist Douglas Engel contributed to this report.

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