Music

Madonna Plays ‘Express Yourself’ For First Time on Celebration Tour

Madonna swapped a fan favorite into her set list on Monday night (Jan. 8) in Boston during the fifth act of her career-spanning Celebration concert. In the slot where she typically performs an acoustic cover of Gloria Gaynor’s 1978 disco anthem “I Will Survive,” the singer offered the audience at TD Garden a surprise unplugged run through half of her empowering 1989 Like a Prayer single “Express Yourself.”

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According to fan video of the moment, Madonna raised a bottle of beer to salute 2024 with “gratitude and appreciation” before picking up an acoustic guitar and momentarily setting aside her gigantic leather cowboy hat, joking, “I have too many props… I feel like I’m in a saloon and everyone is hootin’ and hollerin’.”

She then gave thanks that she gets to perform on stage every night with her four “beautiful, talented, intelligent, opinionated children,” lamenting that her eldest, daughter Lourdes and son Rocco, have “moved on,” but that she has twin daughters Estere and Stella Ciccone on the road with her, along with older sister Mercy James and son David Banda, every night.

“I’m very grateful, because while they may need me as a mother, I must admit that I need them,” she said. “And I need you, and we need each other, cuz family isn’t just what you’re born into. Family is the family that you create. And if you feel like you’re part of my family turn the lights on your phone.”

She then sang an a cappella verse of the 1920s folk song “This Little Light of Mine” with some help from the crowd before saying that while she was telling the audience what she needs, she also wanted to share what she doesn’t need. That cued up the No. 2 Billboard Hot 100 hit about pushing away material riches in lieu of women speaking up, and out for themselves.

“You don’t need diamond rings or eighteen karat gold,” she crooned in the instantly recognizable “Express Yourself” second verse. “Fancy cars that go very fast, you know they never last, no, no/ What you need is a big strong hand/ To lift you to your higher ground/ Make you feel like a queen on a throne,” she sang while strumming her guitar and hitting the iconic chorus and the next verse, pre-chorus and chorus about never going for “second best.”

The mini performance ended with an a cappella sing-along with the crowd to the line “express what he’s got, oh baby ready or not.”

The career-spanning tour plays TD Garden again on Tuesday night (Jan. 9) before moving on to Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Thursday (Jan. 11).

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