CARDIFF (Reuters) - “Queen of pop” Madonna kicked off her “Sticky & Sweet” world tour in the Welsh city of Cardiff on Saturday, entering the stage on a throne before performing “Candy Shop” to around 40,000 screaming fans.
The U.S. singer, who turned 50 a week ago, defied her age with high-energy dance routines. She wore a black leotard-style outfit designed by French fashion house Givenchy and black, knee-length boots.
For her second number, “Beat Goes On,” she drove along the stage catwalk in a white car from which she emerged wearing a white top hat.
U.S. rappers Pharrell Williams and Kanye West, who featured on her latest chart-topping album “Hard Candy,” appeared in video clips, as did Britney Spears.
Madonna will be hoping to shatter her own record for the highest-grossing tour ever by a female artist and prove that the musical master of reinvention still has what it takes to pull in crowds young and old.
“She’s got the physique, the music. To us, at 52, she’s an inspiration to go on,” said Diane, a fan from Cardiff.
At the other end of the age scale, nine-year-old Milly added: “I think she’s really good and I’d like to be like her.”
According to tour promoters Live Nation, who recently signed Madonna to a 10-year deal reported to be worth $120 million, Madonna and her band clocked up 653 hours of rehearsal time before launching “Sticky and Sweet.”
In Cardiff she was due to play a set of around 20 songs which span her pop career of nearly three decades, including “Like A Prayer,” “Into The Groove” and “Hung Up.”
“Sticky & Sweet” comprises some 50 dates and is due to wrap up in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on December 18.
As of Thursday, roughly half the tour venues had yet to sell out including Cardiff, although Live Nation announced in June that the tour was on target to gross more than $250 million.
Guinness World Records list Madonna as the world’s most successful female recording artist of all time and she has sold around 200 million albums. The Sunday Times estimates Madonna and husband Guy Ritchie’s fortune at around $600 million.
But the last few years have not all been easy for Madonna.
Her decision in 2006 to adopt a young Malawian boy whose mother died was controversial in Africa and further afield.
Madonna has two other children — son Rocco with British film director Ritchie and daughter Lourdes from a previous relationship. The family was in Cardiff to watch the show.
She directed her first feature film that came out in 2008 to only mixed reviews, and her eight-year marriage to Ritchie has come under increasing scrutiny amid reports the couple planned to divorce. Both Ritchie and Madonna have denied the reports.
(Additional reporting and writing by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
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