May 25, 2004
Tue May 25, 5:47 AM ET
By Sue Zeidler
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Madonna kicked off her worldwide "Re-Invention" tour on Monday with an extravagant and politically charged show that featured the diva singing in Army fatigues against a video backdrop of a war-torn nation.
Madonna opened the show wearing a jewel-encrusted corset but changed into combat gear when she sang "American Life" backed up by the sounds of dropping bombs.
On stage, dancers dressed like soldiers did push-ups and calisthenics as helicopters and infernos blazed on the video screens behind them.
The 45-year-old Material Girl did not disappoint her longtime fans, many of whom paid upward of 0 per ticket, by relying on many of her old hits like "Holiday" and "Vogue" punctuated by spectacular choreography.
"I knew there would be a lot of politics and religion tonight. it's kind of like she's grown up, but she's still hot," said Dee Dee Kennedy, 36, a saleswoman for Kettel One Vodka, who saw Madonna 20 years ago when she was a college student.
Kennedy, who paid about 0 for her seat, also bought tickets for another Los Angeles show as well as one in Las Vegas this weekend.
Skirting her trademark cone-bra bustiers, Madonna aimed to shock the crowd with video shots of nudity and apocalyptic imagery. In one number, male dancers pranced around in plaid skirts.
Spirituality and her passion for Kabbalah, an ancient practice of Jewish mysticism, also took center stage with untranslated Hebrew text often displayed in the background of her performances.
Another high point for many concertgoers was Madonna's rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine," which was accompanied by a video of sick and injured children from around the world.
An estimated 750,000 people are expected to see 39 shows scheduled for the U.S. and Canadian leg of her tour.