1.6 million people attended Madonna’s free concert in Rio

As mentioned last week, Madonna has come to the end of her Celebration Tour. After 80 ticketed shows, two continents, and two lawsuits for starting late (resolutions still pending), all that was left was a free concert in Rio on May 4. And how did it go? An estimated 1.6 million people attended last Saturday’s show. We’ll never know how much it was the power of Madonna, the appeal of free tickets, or some combination of both. But reports indicate that the revelry was joyful in the days leading up to the concert and on the night of, when Madge took to the stage only 52 minutes late! That’s basically on time for her, right? Associated Press captured highlights of the scene at Copacabana beach:

Madonna takes a bow: Madonna put on a free concert on Copacabana beach Saturday night, turning Rio de Janeiro’s vast stretch of sand into an enormous dance floor teeming with a multitude of her fans. … Huge cheers rose from the buzzing, tightly packed crowd, pressed up against the barriers. Others held house parties in brightly lighted apartments and hotels overlooking the beachfront. Helicopters and drones flew overhead, and motorboats and sailboats anchored off the beach filled the bay. “Here we are in the most beautiful place in the world,” Madonna, 65, 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.”

Madge’s previous audience record was broken: An estimated 1.6 million people attended the show, G1 reported, citing Rio City Hall’s tourism agency. That is 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 ever in her four-decade career.

Copacabana beach got into the groove: In recent days, the buzz was palpable. Fans milled outside that stately, beachfront Copacabana Palace hotel, where Madonna is staying, hoping to catch a glimpse of the pop star. During the sound check on the stage set up in front of the hotel, they danced on the sand. … Flags with “Madonna” printed against a background of Copacabana’s iconic black and white waved sidewalk pattern hung from balconies. The area was packed with street vendors and concert attendees kitted out in themed T-shirts, sweating under a baking sun. … Eighteen sound towers were spread along the beach to ensure that all attendees can hear the hits. Her two-hour show started at 10:37 p.m. local time, nearly 50 minutes behind schedule.

Rio followed NYE holiday planning: Organization of the mega-event was similar to New Year’s Eve, when millions of people gather on Copacabana for its fireworks display, local authorities said. That annual event often produces widespread thefts and muggings, and there was some concern such problems might occur at Madonna’s show. Rio state’s security plan included the presence of 3,200 military personnel and 1,500 civilian police officers on stand by. In the lead-up to the concert, Brazil’s navy inspected vessels that wished to position themselves offshore to follow the show.

A fan justifies her love: Ana Beatriz Soares, a fan who was at Copacabana on Saturday said Madonna has made her mark across the decades. “Madonna had to run so that 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.

[From Associated Press]

You guys, I know there may be a second language issue here, but I am positively howling at the statement, “Madonna had to run so that today’s pop artists could walk.” We have to keep it, it’s too good! So instead of paving the way for artists to follow, Madonna flew high so that others could trudge after her? I think Madonna would (not so) secretly endorse this twist on the popular phrase. I can just see her going, “Hey Gaga, I ran so you could walk!” Anyway, it sounds like it was everything you’d want for a final show, with millions of fans excited to be there. And I guess having the concert be free somehow removed the pressure for Madge to start on time. At least that’s what I’m going with. Or Rio really is magical enough that even Madonna can begin within an hour of the scheduled start time (which was 9:45pm). Lastly, kudos to the AP writer for subtly referencing the Christ the Redeemer statue in an article about 1.6 million people turning out to worship a pop idol. The devil’s in the details.

Photos credit: Dilson Silva/Backgrid

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

15 Responses to “1.6 million people attended Madonna’s free concert in Rio”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. equality says:

    Find it amusing that they are saying she broke her previous attendance record by having a free concert.

  2. Lolo86lf says:

    It was very generous of Madonna to give a free concert to 1.6 million people in attendance. It certainly was not free for her. Many costly expenses were incurred such as paying her staff from top to bottom, electricity, security and police wages, city permits etc. This shows that she can be grateful to her fans. She is one of the brightest stars in the universe of pop music.

    • equality says:

      Supposed to be sponsored by Itau Apresenta and likely some things paid by Rio government.

    • kif says:

      No. Madonna got paid (USD 3.3 M/ BRL 17.075 M). Local newspapers reported on it. The local government and private sponsors paid for the concert. She can show her gratefulness to fans by being on time.

    • Lolo86lf says:

      I stand corrected. Maybe I should do research before I post things.

      • StillDouchesOfCambridge says:

        Me too. But this probably should have said that she was paid to give a free concert and not sway us into error

    • Matilda says:

      The concert was only free to the fans not her. A friend of mine who knows her told me she got around eight million from the city/government to perform the concert.

      • moderatelywealthy says:

        Not completely true, the show was sponsored by a Bank ( Itaú)
        But yeah, Local government paid some expenses too.

    • Rascalito says:

      Madonna also donated about US $3,000,000 this week to help with the flooding disaster in Rio Grande do Sul.

  3. StillDouchesOfCambridge says:

    Madonna is one of the few legends of her generation left. The young ones just can’t compare. If this was her last concert before we dont know when, she finished on top. It’s amazing. It was not free for her although many things might have been sponsored. Her tour was probably a frikkin incredible success and this last show was a gift. It’s just a free show, but for all the 1.3M attending, the business people, the prep, the idea, the days leading to it, everything will be a moment to remember. Madonna again. She’s brilliant.
    The young ones are going to follow and do it. She’s again, the trailblazer

  4. nutella toast says:

    Brasilian here. Less than an hour late? You’re on time. Maybe even early for a party. Just sayin’.

  5. Talita says:

    I’m Brazilian and I watched the show on tv. I thought she would be much longer late lol She seemed so proud to be doing this and it felt like this amazing party.

  6. Sarah Vann says:


  7. Square2 says:

    Oh, KT tapes & knee brace on her left knee. Madonna, take a bow & get some rest girl.