SINGAPORE - After making fans in Singapore wait three decades for her first concert here, pop superstar Madonna did not make them wait much longer.
She came onstage at the National Stadium to a 25,000-strong crowd, just 55 minutes after the stated 8pm start time. It was a relatively early start for a singer known for coming on up to three hours late in the other shows in her tour.
"Singapore, it is so hot here," she said. "Are you all as hot as I am? Show me your armpits."
The show was part of her global Rebel Heart Tour and the 57-year-old is expected to sing songs from her latest album as well as recapping her previous hits.
It is one of the rare concerts here given an R18 rating by the Media Development Authority (MDA) with an advisory on sexual references.
The MDA also censored the setlist, prohibiting the performance of the song Holy Water. On the European leg of the tour, the number featured scantily-clad dancers in nun-like costumes pole-dancing.
Despite this, fans were excited by the opportunity to watch the Queen of Pop live.
Local celebrities showed up in droves for the gig, with actresses Zoe Tay, Huang Biren, Jeanette Aw and Patricia Mok all spotted.
Mok, a long-time fan, has collected not just the albums but also magazines featuring Madonna. She recalled that she bought the issue of Cosmopolitan featuring a naked Madge on the cover: "And the next day they banned Cosmopolitan." She added: "Her music was a part of our growing up years."
Actor and comedian Chua Enlai who is watching tonight's show and flying to Melbourne to catch her show again two weeks later said: "She was the soundtrack to the '80s and the '90s. Her catalogue is ginomous, it's bigger than Singapore."
Tay, who professed to be a huge fan of Madonna, also revealed that she had taken leave to make sure she could attend the concert.
"She played a big part in my teenage years and she was a superstar during that time. She still is a superstar though!" Tay added.
Aw lauded Madonna for being an "icon" at the forefront of fashion and music.
"I've always thought she's very inspiring in many ways - she's always passionate about what she does. And to do a world tour at her age, it's something very amazing."
The tickets are also among the most expensive for a pop concert staged here, with the top VIP tickets priced at $1,288.
The concert cost $14 million to stage, including air freight costs for the 27 containers full of lighting, setup and wardrobe.