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Who's That Girl World Tour

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14 Jun 1987 – 6 Sep 1987

Who's That Girl World Tour 1987 Who39s That Girl World Tour Madonna Whos Girl 5

Start date
June 14, 1987 (1987-06-14)

End date
September 6, 1987 (1987-09-06)

No. of shows
5 in Asia22 in North America11 in Europe38 Total

Box office
25 million USD ($52.70 million in 2016 dollars)

Associated albums

Madonna 01 open your heart who s that girl world tour

Who's That Girl World Tour was the second concert tour by American singer and songwriter Madonna. The tour supported her 1986 third studio album True Blue, as well as the 1987 soundtrack Who's That Girl. It was Madonna's first world tour, reaching Asia, North America and Europe. Madonna's 1987 film Who's That Girl was a box office failure, but its soundtrack proved to be a commercial success. Warner Bros. felt that they could encache on Madonna's success further and they sent her on a world tour. Musically and technically superior to her previous Virgin Tour, the Who's That Girl Tour incorporated multimedia components to make the show more appealing.


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Madonna trained herself physically with aerobics, jogging and weight-lifting, to cope with the choreography and the dance routines. For the costumes, she collaborated with designer Marlene Stewart, expanding on the idea of bringing her popular video characters to life onstage, reworking scenes from videos such as "True Blue", "Open Your Heart", "Papa Don't Preach" and "La Isla Bonita". The stage was huge, with four video screens, multimedia projectors and a flight of stairs in the middle. Patrick Leonard, who was the music director, encouraged Madonna to go with the idea of rearranging her older songs and presenting them in a new format. The title Who's That Girl came to Madonna's mind when during rehearsals one-day when she looked at a gigantic image of herself, projected on a screen on the stage.

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The show consisted of seven costume changes, with song-and-dance routines, theatrics, addressing social causes—during "Papa Don't Preach"—as well as an encore, consisting of "La Isla Bonita", the Who's That Girl film title song and "Holiday". The tour was critically appreciated, who commented on the extravagant nature of the concert and complimented Madonna for her dancing, costume changes and dynamic pacing. Who's That Girl was a commercial success, grossing in total of US $25 million ($52.70 million in 2016 dollars) by playing in front of 1.5 million audience. According to Pollstar, it was the second top female concert tour of 1987, behind Tina Turner's Break Every Rule Tour.

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Who's That Girl was broadcast in a number of international television channels and was released in VHS titled Ciao Italia: Live from Italy. Biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli commented that "Many female artists behave like a diva for a period when they reach superstar status, and the 'Who's That Girl?' tour marked the beginning of Madonna's." It is also noted for giving rise to the term "new Madonna", a stronger and more intelligent sexual image of her former self which had given rise to the term Madonna wannabe. A statue of Madonna, wearing conical bra was elected in her name, at the center of the town of Pacentro in Italy, where her ancestors used to live.

Who's That Girl World Tour Who39s That Girl Soundtrack Today In Madonna History


Madonna's 1987 film Who's That Girl was a box office failure, reason being Madonna trying to do many different things together in the film. According to Taraborrelli, Madonna appropriated a Judy Holliday voice, along with Marilyn Monroe's hair and make-up for the film, which—according to critics—was somehow designed for actress Carole Lombard, and hence it failed. However, the soundtrack of the film proved to be a big success. The album consisted of four Madonna songs, along with tracks by obscure Warner Bros. Records' acts including Club Nouveau, Scritti Politti and Michael Davidson. Three of Madonna's songs were released as singles, namely: "Who's That Girl", "Causing a Commotion" and "The Look of Love", all of them were successful.

The album, released before the film, sold a million copies in the United States, and five million worldwide. Taraborrelli felt that at that moment, riding on Madonna's coattails proved profitable for everyone involved, including Warner Bros. Records, which notched up big sales with a compilation soundtrack album that was basically a showcase for its marginal artists. But still they wanted to "milk-in" the success of Madonna, a view shared by Peter Guber and Jon Peters, executive producers of the film. Hence they felt a worldwide concert tour was the appropriate thing to do, since it would promote both the soundtrack and the film, as well as Madonna's successful third studio album True Blue, released the year before. As Madonna's first world tour, Who's That Girl ended up being a resounding success, although by its end, Madonna declared that she did not want to hear any of her songs again and she did not know whether she would ever write another one. "I returned feeling so burned out and I was convinced that I wouldn't go near music for quite a while", she said.


The Who's That Girl World Tour was musically and technically superior to Madonna's Virgin Tour, because she incorporated multimedia components to make the show more compelling. As the tour was confirmed, Madonna and her team started planning for it. Madonna wanted a show which consisted of theatrics, drama, dance and choreography in "full-force". Her publicist Liz Rosenberg commented, "She wants a visual impact that would knock people out. She was very determined about this. And she's the type that makes decisions quickly; If something doesn't work, she starts over. You'll see a different look this year, but it's still Madonna, still bigger than life." In order to engage herself completely and handle the grueling dance routines, she started attending aerobics classes at Hollywood health centre The Sports Connection. By the time the tour drew nearer, she hired a personal trainer, and her daily routine involved jogging, weight-lifting, dancing, gymnastics, trampoline, swimming and cycling. She started eating vegetarian food with plenty of protein and carbohydrate and avoided the sun. British funk band Level 42 was the supporting act of the tour. Madonna's image was that of a blond girl with soft curls, making a striking contrast with the firm, almost hard lines of her eye make-up and lipstick; the idea of her friend actress Debi Mazar.

For the costumes, Madonna collaborated with designer Marlene Stewart. She expanded on the idea of bringing her popular video characters to life onstage, reworking scenes from "True Blue", "Open Your Heart", "Papa Don't Preach" and "La Isla Bonita". For "Open Your Heart", Madonna reused the Stewart designed black bustier worn by her in the video, complete with tassels, golden tips and ribbing with fishnets on leg. Stewart's other designs included a Spanish style dress for "La Isla Bonita" and a gold lamé jacket for the "White Heat" sequence. On the medley sequence, Madonna used a dress that was visually amusing and, according to Madonna, was for "anyone that takes me too seriously, or imagined and I take myself too seriously." Inspired by Dame Edna Everage, the dress consisted of a hat strewn with fake fruits, flowers and feathers, jeweled batwing spectacles with heavy, black frames, a ruffled skirt and a bodice covered with objects such as watches and dolls and fishnets. The knickers were inscribed with the word "Kiss". Continuing her tradition of message clothes, she spelt out the phrase "You Can Dance" on her jacket, using the letter U, a can of soup and the word "dance" at the back.

Calling the show a "theatrical multimedia spectacular", Madonna wanted a huge stage with a central platform from which a flight of stairs descended. The central platform was flanked by two lower platforms, which housed the band and the musicians. A large video screen was suspended above the stairs, which descended during the show. Two projectors were situated at the front of the stage, which projected images of The Pope and President Ronald Reagan during the show. Patrick Leonard, who had produced True Blue, joined as the musical director for the shows. Instead of following every note on the records, Leonard encouraged the musicians to come up with new ideas for the songs. Hence a number of the old songs were rearranged, including introducing a medley of "Dress You Up", "Material Girl" and "Like a Virgin"—which contained a sample from the Four Tops song "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)". American choreographer Shabba Doo was signed to choreograph the show. 13-year-old Christopher Finch was signed to play the part of the small boy from the "Open Your Heart" video, since Felix Howard, who played the original part, did not get a working license, and hence could not join the tour. Madonna wanted three backup singers, a team of male dancers and a succession of costume changes. She took inputs from her then husband, actor Sean Penn saying, "I really respect Sean's opinion. He has great taste and is a very brilliant man. When I was putting my tour together, it was always in the back of my mind: 'I wonder what Sean will think of this?' He's extremely opinionated and has really high standards, and that sometimes pushed me into making decisions I wouldn't have otherwise made." The title "Who's That Girl Tour" came to Madonna's mind during rehearsals one-day when she looked at a gigantic image of herself, projected on a screen on the stage. She commented,

"Oh god, what have I done? What have I created? Is that me, or is this me, this small person standing down here on the stage? That's why I call the tour 'Who's That Girl?'; because I play a lot of characters, and every time I do a video or a song, people go, 'Oh, that's what she's like.' And I'm not like any of them. I'm all of them. I'm none of them. You know what I mean.?"

Concert synopsis

The show started with a performance by Level 42. As their performance ended, the lights started blinking all around the stadium and Finch appears on stage, looking for Madonna. He is followed by two other dancers, who jump around the stage and disappear. Then Madonna's silhouette is visible behind a screen which has paintings by Tamara de Lempicka on it. She performs dance moves behind the screen, which starts going up slowly. She wore a black pointy corset and fishnets like the costume in the music video of "Open Your Heart". After dancing on the stairs, using a chair as a prop, Madonna descends and starts singing the song. Later Finch joins her again and they dance together till the song ends. This was followed by the performance of "Lucky Star" during which a disco ball spun above the stage; as Madonna and her dancers moved around it, the light from the ball flickered on them like a star. For "True Blue", Madonna came up on the stage wearing a blue, silk taffeta dress over her corset and a blue scarf hidden in her bosom. The stage had a similar blue setting like the original music video. Madonna is backed up by her singers who play her girlfriends. At the end of the song Madonna is asked to dance again by the dancer playing her man in the performance. During "Papa Don't Preach" Madonna wore a black leather jacket over her dress and walked around the stage while singing. The screen in the background showed portraits of Pope John Paul II and then-President of the U.S. Ronald Reagan, along with scenes of John Perry III's short film, The Nightmare, ending with the words "Safe Sex", as Madonna finished the song. She dedicated the song to the Pope, marking her first conflict with the Vatican, as Pope John Paul II urged Italian fans to boycott her concerts.

During "White Heat"—which featured dialogues from the 1949 James Cagney film of the same name—a video screen displayed a scene from the film, with Cagney saying the dialogue: "A copper ... a copper fellas". The video screen moves up and Madonna appears, wearing a lamé jacket and holding a plastic gun in her right hand. A large cut out of Cagney appears in the middle and Madonna finishes singing the song, while pointing the revolver towards her dancers and pretending to fire at them, as sounds of gunshots are heard. She followed it with "Causing a Commotion" which ended with Madonna pointing to her dancers and musicians across stage and uttering the line "He/She's got the moves baby" numerous times. For "The Look of Love" the spotlight was focused on her. The introductory music of the song started and Madonna roamed around the stage, pretending that she was lost. She wanted to portray her Who's That Girl film character Nikki, when she was lost in a similar sequence in the film. After she finished singing the song, Madonna pretended to walk forward by pushing through the air, as the conveyor belt took her backwards, ultimately taking her away from the stage. Then a red phone booth appears on the stage, in which Madonna's silhouette appears to be changing costume. She emerges from the booth wearing the Edna Everage inspired costume and starts singing "Dress You Up". Then she sang "Material Girl", while stretching her legs on stage and showing her underwear and followed by "Like a Virgin", during which she took off her outfit piece by piece, until she was standing in the same outfit from the beginning of the show, and ended the performance while flirting with a young male dancer who played her bridegroom.

A backdrop then started showing the newspaper reports on Madonna's 1985 Playboy nude picture release. The backdrop moves up as Madonna appears, wearing a loose-fitted black pant and top, with bejeweled glasses, for singing "Where's the Party". For "Into the Groove" Finch joins her on stage to dance alongside. Madonna then wore a pink bolero jacket which had the can of soup and the words "U" and "DANCE" flanking it. At the end she is joined by her backup singers and dancers. Together they take a bow to the audience and finish the performance. Next Madonna sang "La Isla Bonita" as a part of the encore, wearing the same red Flamenco dress she had worn in the video. For "Who's That Girl", Madonna—flanked by Finch and a male dancer—strutted around the stage, asking the audience to join her on the chorus. Lastly, Madonna performed an energetic version of "Holiday", signaling the celebratory and wholesome nature of the song's theme. The song featured a new arrangement, with a guitar solo in the intermediate portion added by Leonard. She sang the final chorus twice, then asked the audience for a comb so that she could fix her hair and finished the performance, after taking a bow with her dancers to the audience.

Critical reception

Biographer Taraborrelli commented, "Madonna had more confidence in her stage presence, her music was showing a deeper maturity, her voice was fuller, and the show was expertly choreographed with complex numbers. J. D. Considine from The Baltimore Sun commented, "I've seen the Springsteen stadium tour, I've seen Dylan and the [Grateful] Dead, and I was at Live Aid. Out of all those shows, Madonna's is the only one I want to see again. You need a larger-than-life show if you want to come off in a stadium, and Madonna does. She's not that large physically, but she holds your attention." Ann Ayers, assistant entertainment editor of USA Today felt that the show was high on glitz and low on emotional quotient. "Madonna's going for a certain kind of show: a Broadway, show-biz, song-and-dance spectacle. In that context it's hard to make a connection with the audience, and I'd have to say that she didn't." Peter Goddard from Toronto Star reviewed the concert in CNE Stadium and said, "Madonna proved that she may be a lost girl in the roads of life, like her film, but she ain't lost when she is singing. Especially during songs like 'Papa Don't Preach', her vocal prowess was substantially notable." Scott A Zamost and Elizabeth Snead, writing for Chicago Tribune, felt that "For the most part, the premiere concert on Madonna's Who's That Girl tour was a success, an extravaganza of multiple videos, flashing lights and precision dancing. If the high-tech accoutrements and inferior sound system made it difficult to hear the singer, one hopes that will be refined as the tour continues across the United States. [...] As a dancer, Madonna is supreme on stage. Her trademark skip to a funky beat highlighted the constant acrobatics. One minute she was stage left, another minute stage right. She ran up a wide staircase center stage to party with her three back-up singers, then scooted down to the stage floor, swinging her hips, accompanied by other dancers."

Deborah Wilker from The Day commented that "Madonna's got an almost rabid energy about her, which she maintains for the duration of 90 minutes. In fact she rarely leaves the stage—preferring to change costumes in a phone booth instead. Boy can she change. One minute she's a 50's teenager in a party dress, next she's playing a speak-easy chanteuse. It's almost difficult to believe that a career as young as Madonna's could contain so much popular material that on stage the star can barely get to half of it." Don McLeese from Chicago Sun-Times reviewed the performance at Soldier Field stadium said that "'Shine' seems like a dim possibility for her Soldier Field performance this month, because Madonna invariably takes the stage after dusk has turned to dark and brings back the sun again for the two hours that she played." In another review, McCleese commented: "[Madonna] proceeded to show Soldier Field a few moves that would gain Walter Payton some yardage, while putting a whole new twist on the term 'backfield in motion'. The girl really knows how to cause a commotion." Richard Harrington from The Washington Post felt that the tour "would have played better to a full house at the Capital Centre or Merriweather Post Pavilion. But to her credit, Madonna performed last night as if the house was full, and the show is splendid pop theater. Madonna has described it as 'Broadway in a stadium', and with her nonstop dancing, costume changes, mini-dramas and dynamic pacing, it is sort of a 'Liza With an M.'" Jon Pareles from The New York Times reviewed the concert at Madison Square Garden in New York and felt that "For all its effort and professionalism, the concert wasn't exactly moving; Madonna had to ask the audience to get up and dance twice. But as shallow, kitschy, pop entertainment—no big messages, no revelations, familiar sounds and images, plenty of catchy tunes—the show was easy to enjoy. [...] The tunes stick to her limited vocal range and usually use short phrases—the better to keep her from running out of breath as she dances across the stage. And her band knocked the songs out with solid precision, recreating the gleaming sound of her records.

Commercial response

After the tour was announced, the first two shows at Wembley Stadium in London sold-out at a then record-breaking time of 18 hours and 9 minutes for 144,000 tickets. However around 10,000 concert tickets were still left unsold for her Leeds concert. Madonna's concert in Paris in front of 130,000 fans remains to this date, her biggest concert audience ever and largest crowd of any concert in French history. A concert was also planned in Basel, Switzerland for August 31, 1987, but negotiations between Madonna's management and local organizers failed due to the high fee of one million ($2.11 million in 2016 dollars) that Madonna's camp demanded. As a result, Nice, France was booked in the itinerary. But when a local mayor threatened to cancel the concert, citing crowd problems, Jacques Chirac, then Mayor of Paris, stepped in to overrule him. Her first-ever Italian concert in Turin, was presented by the Italian state broadcaster RaiUno and broadcast around the world. Just in Italy, the show was watched by around 14 million households. The show at Turin was watched by 65,000 fans and was a record there.

In Japan, a thousand troops had to restrain a crowd of 25,000 fans seeking to greet Madonna at the airport. When severe storms forced the cancellation of her first shows, despondent fans nearly rioted, and Madonna was confronted with out-of-control teenagers soaking themselves in the rain outside the stadium. Promoters had no choice but to refund U.S. $7 million to ticket-buyers. Madonna's Madison Square Garden show in New York City was an AIDS benefit with all the proceeds from the show going to American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR). She dedicated her performance of "Live to Tell" to her late friend Martin Burgoyne, the designer of her 1983 "Burning Up" single cover sleeve. Upon completion, the tour was the second top female concert tour of 1987, behind Tina Turner's Break Every Rule Tour, earning in total of US $25 million ($52.70 million in 2016 dollars) according to Pollstar and playing in front of 1.5 million audience all over the world.

Broadcasts and recordings

The concert at Korakuen Stadium, Tokyo was broadcast on June 22, 1987 in Japan only. It was later released on VHS and LaserDisc as Who's That Girl: Live In Japan. It was the first television broadcast using Dolby Surround Sound and was promoted by Mitsubishi, as Madonna had previously starred in television commercials for their video recorders. On September 4, 1987, Madonna's concert special, Madonna in Concerto, filmed at the Comunale Stadium in Turin, Italy was broadcast live on TV in Italy (RAI), France (TF1), Germany (SAT1), Austria (ORF) and Spain (TVE). Other countries including Australia and The Netherlands broadcast this show in 1987. The concert was released commercially in 1988 as Ciao Italia: Live from Italy and was later available on Laserdisc and DVD. The video contains the full Who's That Girl show, produced using footage from three different shows: Tokyo June 22, 1987, Turin September 4, 1987, and Florence September 6, 1987. Heather Phares from Allmusic said: "Madonna's Ciao Italia: Live from Italy captures a performance from her 1988 world tour and features hits like 'Lucky Star', 'True Blue', 'La Isla Bonita', 'Like a Virgin', and 'Material Girl'. A much simpler, less choreographed performance than her later extravaganzas like The Girlie Show World Tour, Ciao Italia is still entertaining in its own right, and will definitely please fans nostalgic for some old-school Madonna hits." Mark Knopher from the Los Angeles Daily News commented that "Ciao Italia shows the glitz and the glamor that made this tour so remarkable." It charted at the top of the Billboard music DVD chart on for six weeks and ranked at two on the "1988 Year-end Top Ranked Tapes". Ciao Italia also charted at number three on the Finnish DVD chart in 2009.


According to Taraborrelli, "Many female artists behave like a diva for a period when they reach superstar status, and the 'Who's That Girl?' tour marked the beginning of Madonna's." For instance, she would not allow crew members to talk directly to her; they had to talk to her representatives, lest they distract her from the business at hand. She also forbade her dancers from speaking to her and her musicians were not permitted to even look at her unless they were onstage with her. Moreover, when coming on and off the stage, Madonna demanded that road managers hold sheets around her in order to shield her from the eyes of "those who couldn't help but stare". DeMann commented: "She has a way of demanding that compels you to give her your undivided attention", to which Taraborrelli felt that such behavior actually was an indication of how successful and strong Madonna was. "You don't behave like a bitch until you are that successful. The tour sure helped cement her star status", he commented.

The tour was also notable for giving rise to the term "new Madonna", a stronger and more intelligent sexual image of her former self which had given rise to the term Madonna wannabe. Considine felt that "the important thing Madonna did on the tour was to demonstrate how female sexuality can be a source of strength. Traditionally in pop culture, there are two roles that a woman can play—the good girl and the bad girl, and the bad girl is never taken seriously. But Madonna shows up the trappings of a bad girl, and demanded to be taken up seriously because she just doesn't roll over. I got more sense of the strength and power that was under her image all along." Another important fact noted in the tour by scholars is the extensive use of multimedia technique to its maximum potential. Says Mark Bego, author of Madonna: Blonde Ambition, that "Madonna transformed the concept of a concert tour being focused on the songs. She turned her Who's That Girl? tour into a ubiquitous multimedia blitz technique by including songs, dancing, choreography, videos, big screens, backdrops—not to mention the subtle preaching and messages—that made singing a secondary quality for concert goers. Evident from the people that thronged to see the tour, they were there for the spectacle—and not see Madonna standing in front of the microphone and singing.

While in Italy, Madonna met some of her relatives from Pacentro, the village in which her grandfather and grandmother, Gaetano and Michelina Ciccone had been married. However, it was not the glorious home coming that she had expected; some of her relatives made it very clear that they were scandalized by her appearance and behavior. One good thing came from the visit, there were talks of making her an honorary citizen of the town. Ultimately, a statue of Madonna, wearing conical bra was elected in her name, at the center of the town. The Vatican was outraged by the plans of erecting the statue, with the Pope's spokesperson commenting: "The statue would be too sexy and might corrupt the morals of Italy's fine young people."

Opening Act

  • Level 42
  • Bhundu Boys
  • Hue and Cry
  • Set list

    1. "Open Your Heart"
    2. "Lucky Star"
    3. "True Blue"
    4. "Papa Don't Preach"
    5. "White Heat"
    6. "Causing a Commotion"
    7. "The Look of Love"
    8. Medley:
    9. "Dress You Up"
    10. "Material Girl"
    11. "Like a Virgin" (contains excerpts from "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)")
    12. "Where's the Party"
    13. "Live to Tell"
    14. "Into the Groove"
    15. "La Isla Bonita"
    16. "Who's That Girl"
    17. "Holiday"

    Set list per official DVD track listing.


    Who's That Girl World Tour Wikipedia