Madonna debuts Celebration tour, months after postponing amid illness: ‘I didn’t think I would make it’

Madonna is dressed in a black jumpsuit with a black cape and singing onstage with her eyes closed and hand raised
Madonna opened her postponed Celebration tour at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday.
(Kevin Mazur / WireImage for Live Nation)
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Madonna debuted her long-awaited Celebration tour in London over the weekend, months after she was hospitalized.

The Queen of Pop had been forced to postpone her international tour for three months while she recovered from a “serious bacterial infection” that landed her in the intensive care unit in late June.

During Saturday’s opening show at the O2 Arena in front of a crowd of 20,000 fans, she gave a candid update on the time during her illness. “I didn’t think I would make it — and neither did my doctors,” Madonna said onstage, according to NME. “That’s why I woke up with all of my children sitting around me.”


Madonna’s manager announced that she “developed a serious bacterial infection which led to a several day stay in the ICU” and “is still under medical care.”

June 28, 2023

“I forgot five days of my life, or my death, I don’t really know where I was,” she continued. “But the angels were protecting me. And my children were there. And my children always save me, every time.

“If you want to know how I pulled through and how I survived, I thought, ‘I have got to be there for my children — I have to survive for them.’”

The “Material Girl” singer then launched into a cover of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and the “Evita” ballad “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina,” which featured a montage of late icons, such as civil rights leaders Malcolm X and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., communist revolutionary Che Guevara and pop stars David Bowie and Sinéad O’Connor, who died in July at 56.

Madonna will kick off her career-spanning Celebration tour in October, months after she was hospitalized for a ‘serious bacterial infection’ in June.

Aug. 15, 2023

Madonna had previously shared her grim prognosis about one month after her hospital stay in an Instagram post, in which she said she was “lucky” to be alive. She then gave thanks to her six children for helping her survive: “As a Mother you can really get caught up In the needs Of your children and the seemingly endless giving……….. But when the chips were down my children really showed up for me. I saw a side to them I had never seen before. It made all the difference. So did the love and support from my friends.”

Madonna has six children: daughter Lourdes, 27, whose father is personal trainer and actor Carlos Leon; son Rocco, 23, from her marriage to Guy Ritchie; and four adopted children: son David, 18; daughter Mercy James, 17; and twin girls Stella and Estere, 11.

At the debut show in London, Estere shared the stage with Madonna and surprised concertgoers by voguing to her mother’s ballroom-scene-inspired 1990 hit “Vogue,” according to fan videos shared on social media. While Estere strutted onstage in a black-and-yellow jumpsuit and high-heeled boots, fans screamed as Madonna sat nearby, holding up a card with a judge’s score of 10.


Madonna’s 43-city Celebration tour, which charts her 40-year career full of era-defining hits, was supposed to kick off in Vancouver on July 15. She had been scheduled to play Arena in downtown Los Angeles for four nights in September and October. Instead, the singer will take over the Kia Forum in Inglewood on March 4, 5, 7, 9 and 11.

Madonna says her children ‘really showed up’ for her during her recent health scare: ‘I saw a side to them I had never seen before. It made all the difference’

July 31, 2023

Live Nation said tickets for the original L.A. dates were refunded in August, and current ticket holders had access to the new Kia Forum tickets before the general public did.

The “Vogue” singer announced the highly anticipated tour in January with a raunchy, cameo-packed video featuring Jack Black, Lil Wayne, Eric Andre and Amy Schumer, among others. She followed that by introducing Sam Smith and Kim Petras’ performance of “Unholy” at the Grammy Awards in February.

At the debut show in London, Madonna also led other somber moments, dedicating a segment to those who died in the AIDS epidemic, as well as people who have been killed in Israel and Gaza, which she said has been “so painful to witness,” before calling for peace, according to CNN and Deadline.

Times staff writers Nardine Saad, August Brown and Alexandria Del Rosario contributed to this report.