A free Madonna concert attracts 1.6 million people to Copacabana beach in Brazil



Rio de Janeiro, with its iconic statue looming over it from Corcovado mountain, is accustomed to Christ the Redeemer. It featured Madonna, too, for one night only this weekend.

Over a million people flocked to Copacabana beach on Saturday night, transforming the expansive sands into a gigantic dance floor for a free performance by the pop artist, who was wrapping up her global tour.

“We are in the most beautiful place on earth right now,” the 65-year-old Madonna declared to the crammed assembly. She continued, pointing out the mountains and the ocean view, saying, “This place is magic.”

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Fans gathered outside the opulent Copacabana Palace hotel in anticipation of seeing the celebrity, and the city had been electrified in the lead-up to the show. Fans descended from all over the world, prompting an estimated 170 more planes to land at the city’s airport.

According to city officials, 1.6 million people attended the event. Some of the attendees watched from hotels or brightly illuminated residences overlooking the beach, while others did so from motorboats and sailboats docked nearby.

The singer gave a stunning performance, cycling through numerous sets and costume changes while performing hits like “Like a Virgin” and “Like a Prayer” as drones and helicopters soared overhead.

She opened the act with her 1998 hit song Nothing Really Matters, to a thunderous roar from the audience, which was flanked by enormous screens.

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“Hey, Rio!” She yelled in Portuguese. “Oi, Queen Madonna!” was shouted in a hurry by over a million people.

As she sang Live to Tell, the singer also gave a moving homage to “all the bright lights” lost to the disease, set against a backdrop of black-and-white pictures of victims of the disease.

A free Madonna concert attracts 1.6 million people to Copacabana beach in Brazil

Younger musicians from samba schools performed with pop artists Anitta and Pabllo Vittar from Brazil during the concert.

The event, the last stop on Madonna’s Celebration tour, was billed on her official website as the largest of her 40-year career. To guarantee that the masses could enjoy the event, eighteen sound towers and giant screens had been positioned along the beach.

Madonna’s performance was praised by her fans, who flocked to the concert hours or even days in advance to secure a good spot. One person told the BBC, “I have never seen such a powerful show.” She went on, “It’s unbelievable, completely out of the ordinary.”

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“Madonna is amazing,” stated a different person. “Madonna’s concert is the best of all.”

Following the death of a young Brazilian fan from heat exhaustion during a Taylor Swift concert last year, city officials were put on high alert and instructed firefighters to mist spectators with water to cool them down before to the performance. During the late-night show, free drinking water was also distributed, with temperatures hovering above 27C (81F).

Million-strong crowds have attended concerts by the Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart, where more than 3,000 police officers were stationed.

A free Madonna concert attracts 1.6 million people to Copacabana beach in Brazil

All this week, the expectation had been growing throughout Rio. Heineken advertisements, which said, “Welcome, Queen!” were all throughout the city, and “Like a Virgin” cocktails were being served at pubs and restaurants. The singer’s picture could be seen all over the Copacabana neighborhood on T-shirts, souvenirs, and billboards.

Rio state’s security prepared plans that included the presence of 3,200 military personnel and 1,500 civilian police officers on standby, while the nation’s navy conducted inspections of any vessel looking to follow the concert offshore. Hotel reservations in Copacabana surged to an estimated 98% of capacity. According to estimates from city officials, the event might bring in up to 293 million reals (£46 million) for the local economy.