Madonna tells fans she 'doesn't know when she'll see son Rocco again' at circus-themed show in Australia

Madonna has opened up about the "saga" of her ongoing custody battle over her son Rocco during a gig in Australia.

The pop star arrived more than four hours late for an intimate 'Tears of a Clown' show in Melbourne on Thursday, finally appearing onstage at around 1am, dressed as a clown and riding a tiny tricycle.

As well as performing hits and telling jokes and stories to the crowd, the 57-year-old dedicated an emotional performance of her single Intervention to her 15-year-old son with ex-husband Guy Ritchie.

As family photos of Rocco flashed up on a screen behind her, Madonna told the audience the teen has "disappeared" from her life and that she is unsure when she'll see him again.

She missed a private High Court court hearing over the future of her son on Thursday because of her Rebel Heart tour, a London judge heard.

Her lawyer said that she would "very much wish" to be attend but was performing in Australia.

Film director Ritchie and his wife Jacqui were at the hearing.

The singer has dedicated several emotional tributes to her son during the tour and she broke down in tears on stage in New Zealand at the weekend.

"There is no love stronger than a mother for her son," she told the audience. "If I talk about him too much I might cry."

She said her unusual circus-themed gig was a reward for her "patient" Australian fans, who have waited 23 years for her to perform Down Under.

Madonna jokes around onstage in Melbourne: