Madonna’s Celebration Tour rolled into Barclays Center on Wednesday (Dec. 13) for the first of several New York City dates. Two months after opening in London’s O2 Arena on Oct. 14 (with five of her children in attendance), The Celebration Tour is going strong. Billboard Boxscore recently reported that the tour tally so far is approaching $100 million in grosses, with the trek likely to net $225 million worldwide when all is said and done.

Despite a late start, the high-energy show featured a setlist surprise as well as an on-stage appearance by her rumored boyfriend, boxing coach Josh Popper, a reality TV veteran who runs a gym in New York City called Bredwinners.

The tour is a vocally impressive showing for the reigning Queen of Pop, especially given that a health scare forced her to postpone its start by a few months. And the setlist is a dream, encompassing essential Billboard Hot 100 No. 1s, deep-cut fan favorites and a few tracks she hasn’t trotted out in years. “It’s a tour which is essentially biopic in style, documentary in style,” Stuart Price – the tour’s music producer – told Billboard shortly after the Celebration Tour opened in London. The beating, bleeding heart of the show remains “Live to Tell,” which pairs the melancholy ballad with images of lives lost to HIV/AIDS (many of them being friends of Madonna’s). The most transcendent moment, however, is “Ray of Light,” which finds Madonna soaring above the crowd in an airborne window of sorts, belting out the sublime chorus while bubbling swaths of acid house roll around the crowd (which, naturally, loses its collective mind).

Madonna returns to Barclays Center on Thursday (Dec. 14) and Saturday (Dec. 16). The Celebration Tour swings back through NYC next year, hitting Madison Square Garden on Jan. 22, 23 and 29.

Check out the best moments from her first NYC date on The Celebration Tour below.

Joe Lynch
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