Madonna performed at Madison Square Garden on Monday night as part of her Celebration Tour, a lavish stage spectacle devoted to her catalog of hits as the Queen of Pop. During “Like a Prayer,” she sang from a spinning carousel filled with jumbo crucifixes and shirtless men. When she performed “Vogue,” she invited Kelly Ripa onto the stage to join her in judging the ballroom moves of her dancers with scorecards.
“I don’t know when I’m going to be back here playing again, but I’m doing this show like it’s my last show,” Madonna, 65, told the crowd. “And I’m doing this show like it’s my first show.”
Before the concert, the scene outside the arena resembled a fashion runway as Madonna fans arrived to serve up style tributes to her. Men emerged from the subway wearing black biker boots and leather jackets. Some women had drawn fake beauty spots onto their upper lips. At a subterranean pregame bar in Penn Station, while hits like “Holiday” and “Papa Don’t Preach” piped from a speaker, Sophy LeMay, a corporate accountant, wore fingerless lace gloves as she nursed a drink.
Fans shared their opinions about the lawsuit filed by two concertgoers against Madonna, who has become known as an unpunctual stage performer, accusing her of false advertising and negligent misrepresentation for going on late at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in December. (Her representatives said that they “intend to defend this case vigorously.”)
“It is what it is,” Julio Alvarez, who wore a bowler hat, said. “She’s Madonna.”
“I’ve traveled all the way from Oklahoma to see her,” added Kevin Smith, who brandished a black riding crop. “I’ll stay awake until 1 a.m. to see her if I need to.”
In the edited interviews below, fans reflected on Madonna’s enduring cultural relevance.
Why is she important to you? All roads lead to Madonna. Look, I love Beyoncé, but no one will ever take the crown from her. No one can take away what she’s given us. And what I mean by that is young queer folks who once knew no better. She led us through the wilderness.
Do you mind an unpunctual diva? I’ve made sure to be prepared for it if that happens. I had sleepy tea, took a nap earlier. I’m moisturized.
Why is she important to you? Madonna was specifically responsible for my sexual awakening. She helped me find myself.
If you could spend a day with Madonna, what would you do? My PG-13 answer to that would be: I’d love to talk to her about the Danceteria days while giving her a foot massage.
Do you mind a tardy diva? A wizard is never late, nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to.
Artist and designer
You say you once met Madonna? Yes, I met her back when she first arrived in New York City, back when she was a no one. She was just a girl from Michigan. Then she began hanging out with all the gay guys in the East Village and they enhanced her. She became brazen in a sexy way.
Criminal justice educator
Why do you love her? Because we’re going into her fifth decade, and she’s still going strong. People keep saying it’s her last tour, but I don’t believe it. This will not be her last tour. No one tells Mick Jagger or Paul McCartney that they need to stop touring. I wonder why.
If you could spend a day with Madonna, what would you do? It would be fun to go on a fashion shopping trip together where she’s picking up the bill.
Why is she important to you? Because of her relentless support for the queer movement. And as a cultural icon, she’s immortal.
If you could meet Madonna, what would you do? I’d ask her about her gay friends during the AIDS crisis. How she felt about that time in New York, and how she coped with it.
Why is Madonna important to you? She’s always been a style icon. She helped support artists and designers like Keith Haring and Vivienne Westwood. And everyone knows the Jean Paul Gaultier cone bra from the Blond Ambition Tour.
Why do you love her? Because Madonna’s staying power can’t be questioned. She’s a chameleon. Always changing. Always pushing the buttons. And she’ll never stop.
If you could spend a day with Madonna, what would you do? I’d rather spend a night out with Madonna. Go to a strip club together, have lots of drinks and party until the morning.
Do you mind a tardy diva? She’s the queen. She can come on stage as late as she wants to.
If you could meet Madonna, what would you do? I’d ask how she gets over her anxieties and insecurities. How she is able to turn all the scrutiny that society puts onto her into her fuel and her engine as an artist. How she lets it move her forward.
Why do you love her? She sticks to her guns and deeply understands her audience.
Why is she important to you? Because when I saw her perform one night earlier during this tour, she made me feel like a teenager again. I hope she never stops touring.