Free Madonna concert draws crowd of 1.6m to Brazil’s Copacabana beach | Madonna

More than a million people have thronged Brazil’s Copacabana beach for a free Madonna concert, braving the heat to see the end of her Celebration world tour.

The sand and oceanfront boulevard around Rio de Janeiro’s famed beach were filled for several blocks on Saturday night by a crowd the city estimated at 1.6 million.

Many had been there for hours or even days to get a good spot, while richer fans anchored in dozens of boats near the beach and people crowded beachfront apartments.

Firefighters sprayed water before the concert, when temperatures exceeded 30C (86F), to cool fans gathered near the pop queen’s stage, and drinking water was distributed for free. The temperature was about 27C (81F) during the late night show.

‘Rio, here we are, in the most beautiful place in the world,’ Madonna told fans. Photograph: António Lacerda/EPA

Madonna, 65, was on stage for more than two hours, performing songs including Like a Prayer, Vogue and Express Yourself from 10.45pm as she wound up the greatest hits tour, which started late last year.

“Rio, here we are, in the most beautiful place in the world, with the ocean, the mountains, Jesus,” Madonna told the crowd, referring to the city’s huge mountaintop Christ the Redeemer statue. “Magic.”

The Brazilian pop artists Anitta and Pabllo Vittar, as well as younger musicians from samba schools, participated in the show.

More than 3,000 police officers were deployed around the concert area, where the Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart have also drawn million-strong crowds. The authorities used a crowd-management strategy similar to their handling of the city’s famous New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Fans at the Madonna concert in Rio on Saturday. Photograph: Pilar Olivares/Reuters

Brazilian authorities have stepped up their vigilance over heat-related health problems after a young Brazilian fan died at a concert by Taylor Swift last year due to heat exhaustion.

Rio’s state and city governments said they spent 20m reais (£3.1m) on the concert, while the rest was financed by private sponsors. The authorities estimate the concert could bring in about 300m reais (£47m) to Rio’s economy.

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