Live Review: Madonna's Celebration Tour kicks off in London after health scare

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LONDON (AP) — Madonna kicked off her career-spanning Celebration Tour at London's O2 Arena on Saturday night, marking her first performance since suffering what her manager called a “serious bacterial infection” that led to hospitalization in an intensive care unit for several days back in June.

“I’m on the road to recovery and incredibly grateful for all the blessings in my life,” the pop superstar wrote on Instagram this summer, shortly after news of the ICU stay broke. “My focus now is on my health and getting stronger and I assure you, I’ll be back with you as soon as I can.”

On stage, Madonna, 65, said she'd had a “crazy year" that neither she nor her doctors thought she'd make it through. She said her children spurred her on and that she had to “survive for them.” The opening night of the tour also marked the 27th birthday of daughter Lourdes Leon, who appeared on stage with her mother.

After a brief technical hitch, the opening night of the tour was indeed a celebration. Madonna played songs from across her vast career, including studio recordings and footage drawing on four decades of hits. On the set list were iconic songs from “Like a Prayer” to “Holiday” to “Vogue” to “La Isla Bonita." She also included more niche tracks such as “Die Another Day” from the 2002 Bond movie of the same name.

During an acoustic moment in the show, Madonna spoke out about the ongoing war in the Middle East.

“Even though our hearts are broken, our spirits cannot be broken,” she said, adding that she hopes for a “collective consciousness to change the world and bring peace.”

Madonna rescheduled the North American leg of her tour, originally slated to kick off July 15 in Vancouver and run through Oct. 8 in Las Vegas. That leg now begins Dec. 13 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, and runs through April 24, 2024, when it will conclude at Mexico City’s Palacio de los Deportes.