As the Sticky and Sweet tour rolls into Nice, Madonna settles into life on the road

By Monique Jessen
Updated August 27, 2008 09:25 AM
Credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage

As her Sticky and Sweet tour kicks into high gear, Madonna is in “great spirits,” her rep, Liz Rosenberg, tells PEOPLE.

And why shouldn’t she be? At the second stop of her European leg, the pop icon was cheered on by famous fans Bono and Elton John in Nice, France, on Tuesday night. (It would seem that her feud with John – who accused her of lip-synching in 2004 – is officially ancient history.)

As the singer gets into the groove of her 51-date world tour, her priorities are simple: “Making sure the show is perfect – and taking care of her kids and her husband,” says her rep.

And even though she recently celebrated her 50th birthday, Madonna has no plans to retire any time soon.

“The harder Madonna works the happier she is,” says Rosenberg, a longtime friend. “Because she was a dancer, that’s why. It’s practice, practice, practice.”

Behind the Scenes

Backstage, the atmosphere is peaceful and family-oriented, with a kids’ play room next to the singer’s dressing room. On her opening night in Cardiff, Wales, “She had a massage and a facial – things are very quiet,” says the rep.

Before each show, she spends an hour in hair and makeup, then performs some vocal exercises. Next, she warms up with some form of exercise, “probably some free weights.”

Daughter Lourdes, 11, will often watch her mom from the wings. “She is quite casual about it, she can take it or leave it,” says Rosenberg. “She’s comfortable with the dancers. She talks to all of them.”

Lola (as she’s known to friends and family) might have a superstar for a mom, but she’s no spoiled brat. “She’s very grounded,” swears the rep, who fondly remembers the girl as a makeup-obsessed 2-year-old. “I think Madonna has done a really good job.”

And despite the recent rumors of marital woe, the singer’s husband, director Guy Ritchie, “absolutely” supports his wife from backstage. “Guy understood who he was marrying and they have a whole separate life [away from the spotlight],” she insists. “They are completely fine.”

• Reporting by DANA KENNEDY