Madonna ends Celebration tour with biggest ever show to over a million fans at Rio’s Copacabana beach

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Madonna ends Celebration tour with biggest ever show to over a million fans at Rio’s Copacabana beach

Madonna performed her biggest ever show, closing her Celebration world tour in front of 1.6 million fans with free tickets on Rio’s Copacabana beach. 

Despite starting 50 minutes late, Madonna packed over 20 songs from 15 albums into her show and was joined on stage by Latin star Anitta to perform "Vogue". 

The 65-year-old began the tour in London last October  and has been performing an eclectic mix of her catalogue on dates around the world.

The Copacabana show dwarfed her previous record crowd of 130,000 at Paris' Parc des Sceaux in 1987.

Madonna had been preparing for the show for several days in Rio (AFP via Getty Images)© Provided by Evening Standard

"Here we are in the most beautiful place in the world," Madonna told the crowd.

Pointing out the ocean view, the mountains and the Christ the Redeemer statue overlooking the city, she added: "This place is magic."

Rio spent the last few days readying itself for the performance.

An estimated 1.6 million people attended the gig, more than 10 times Madonna's record attendance of 130,000 at Paris' Parc des Sceaux in 1987.

Madonna's official website hyped the show as the biggest in her four-decade career.

In recent days, the buzz was palpable. Fans milled outside the stately, beachfront Copacabana Palace hotel, where Madonna is staying, hoping to catch a glimpse of the pop star. 

By midday on Saturday, fans crowded in front of the hotel. A white-bearded man carried a sign saying: "Welcome, Madonna. You are the best. I love you."

The crowd line the beach to try and get a glimpse of Madonna (AFP via Getty Images)© Provided by Evening Standard

Flags with "Madonna" printed against a background of Copacabana's iconic black-and-white waved sidewalk pattern hung from balconies. The area teemed with street vendors, and concert attendees kitted out in themed T-shirts, sweating under a baking sun.

"Since Madonna arrived here, I've been coming every day with this outfit to welcome my idol, my diva, my pop queen," said Rosemary de Oliveira Bohrer, 69, who sported a gold-coloured cone bra and a black cap.

"It's going to be an unforgettable show here in Copacabana," said Oliveira Bohrer, a retired civil servant who lives in the area.

Eighteen sound towers were spread along the beach to ensure all attendees could hear the hits. Her two-hour show started at 10.37pm local time, nearly 50 minutes behind schedule.

City Hall produced a report in April estimating that the concert would inject 293 million reals (£46 million) into the local economy.

Hotel capacity was expected to reach 98 per cent in Copacabana, according to Rio's hotel association.

Fans from Brazil, Argentina and France sought out Airbnbs for the weekend, the platform said in a statement.

Rio's international airport had forecast an extra 170 flights for the first week of May from 27 destinations, City Hall said in a statement.

"It's a unique opportunity to see Madonna; who knows if she'll ever come back," said Alessandro Augusto, 53, who flew in from Brazil's Ceara state - approximately 1,555 miles from Rio.

Story by William Mata: Evening Standard

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