Madonna's concert here costs $14m

Mr James Lee (above), chief executive of Kinglun International Holdings, is one of two investors bringing Madonna's Rebel Heart tour (top) to Singapore.
Mr James Lee, chief executive of Kinglun International Holdings, is one of two investors bringing Madonna's Rebel Heart tour (above) to Singapore. PHOTOS: REUTERS, KINGLUN INTERNATIONAL HOLDINGS
Mr James Lee (above), chief executive of Kinglun International Holdings, is one of two investors bringing Madonna's Rebel Heart tour (top) to Singapore.
Mr James Lee (above), chief executive of Kinglun International Holdings, is one of two investors bringing Madonna's Rebel Heart tour to Singapore.

This includes air freight for 27 containers holding the stage, lighting and wardrobe set-ups, says Taiwanese investor

Madonna's upcoming Rebel Heart concert at the National Stadium on Feb 28 is costing its Taiwanese investors US$10 million (S$14.1 million).

The cost of staging her first concert here includes air freight for the pop star's 27 containers holding the stage, lighting and wardrobe set-ups.

One of the concert's two investors, Mr James Lee, 53, chief executive of Kinglun International Holdings - a Taiwan-based property company - revealed the entire cost of the concert in an interview with The Straits Times on Tuesday. The other investor is also Taiwanese, but Mr Lee and Singapore partner Mediacorp declined to reveal his identity.

The property magnate has brought Western acts such as Mariah Carey and Air Supply to Taiwan over the last three years. He is usually a fan of the acts he brings in, saying that "music culture is an important trend that's upcoming, which is one of the reasons why we have decided to invest in it".

The Madonna concert marks his first time investing in a concert in Singapore. He did not invest in Madonna's Taiwanese concerts, which took place on Feb 4 and 6.

While he did try to get on board those shows, he was unsuccessful as most of the shows in the Asian leg of her tour are handled by subsidiaries of international concert promoter Live Nation.

Since there was no promoter for the Singapore show at the time, Mr Lee decided to step in.

By bringing the Rebel Heart tour here, he hopes that people from neighbouring countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia will fly in to see her. "It'd be a waste if people in this part of the world don't get to see her show," he says, adding that "it's a show not to be missed, she's the legendary queen of pop".

He adds that the biggest challenge for the show was getting the Government on board, explaining that no other shows on her tour had to be "curated" beforehand.

According to a statement from the Media Development Authority (MDA) last month, Madonna is not allowed to perform the song Holy Water and the show has been given an R18 rating.

The statement adds: "In determining the rating, MDA had carefully reviewed the proposed setlist and consulted the Arts Consultative Panel. Religiously sensitive content which breaches our guidelines, such as the song Holy Water, will thus not be performed in Singapore."

Mr Lee says they were worried when the Government "had some conditions for approval for the show". They were equally concerned that Madonna would say no to performing in Singapore.

"But surprisingly, she not only agreed to come, but was also willing to change the content just for the Singapore audience," he explains.

The current Asian stops on her worldwide tour - namely Taipei, Bangkok and Tokyo - include a segment in which she performs a medley of Holy Water, a song from her latest album Rebel Heart, and 1990 hit Vogue, while scantily clad "nuns" pole-dance on cross-shaped stripper poles.

When asked if that segment would be removed, Mr Lee says: "From our understanding, it will not be removed, instead, it will be amended."

While he is not entirely certain of the changes for the rest of the show, he says: "What I can tell the Singapore audience is that they will not lose any part of the experience. They should be happy because they're going to see something different from other parts of the world."

Madonna's show will also be the first concert at the National Stadium that will require a reconfiguration of the seating to accommodate the show.

Mr Lee says the seating will be pulled out to cover the running track of the stadium, so that seats located at the sides are closer to the stage. The entire process will take 10 days and comes at extra cost.

"We are willing to spend this money to make it more viable and to bring people closer to the stage," he says.

About 80 to 90 per cent of the tickets have been sold but, after some negotiations, Mr Lee says more tickets, priced at $388, will be released for a newly created pen in the standing category. These additional tickets went on sale yesterday morning at 10am via Sports Hub Tix.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 18, 2016, with the headline 'Madonna's concert here costs $14m'. Print Edition | Subscribe