Madonna’s upcoming Rebel Heart concert at the National Stadium on Feb 28 is costing its Taiwanese investors US$10 million (S$14 million).
The cost for 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, the 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 (Feb 16). The other investor is also Taiwanese but Mr Lee and Mediacorp declined to reveal his identity.
The property magnate also fancies himself as a concert promoter, having 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 for those shows, he was unsuccessful as most of her shows during the Asian leg of her tour are handled by subsidiaries of international concert promoter Live Nation.
Since there was no investor 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 said, adding that “it’s a show not to be missed, she’s such a legendary queen of pop”.
He says 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 added: “In determining the rating, MDA had carefully reviewed the proposed setlist and consulted the Arts Consultative Panel. Religiously sensitive content which breach our guidelines, such as the song Holy Water, will thus not be performed in Singapore.”
Mr Lee admits that 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 she is willing to change the content just for the Singapore audience,” Mr Lee 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 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, but I think they should be happy because they’re going to see something different from other parts of the world.”
This will also be the first concert at the National Stadium that will require a reconfiguration of the seating to accommodate the show.
According to Mr Lee, the seating will be pulled out to cover the running track of the stadium so that the seats located at the sides are closer to the stage. The entire process will take 10 days and comes at an additional cost.
“We are willing to spend this money just to make it more viable and to bring people closer to the stage,” he says.
Some 80 to 90 per cent of tickets have been sold, but after some negotiations, Mr Lee says that more Category 4 tickets priced at $388 will be released. However these will be tickets in a newly created section in the standing pen. These additional tickets will go on sale on Wednesday morning (Feb 17) at 10am via Sports Hub Tix.
He insists that his participation as investor in the concert “is not for profit” and that he is fulfilling a promise to his friends in Singpore. Mr Lee and his wife come to Singapore three or four times a year.