KISS, Alice Cooper, AC/DC.
I love gigs with spectacle and showmanship, and Lady Gaga’s has that in spades. Against the backdrop of a fantastically crafted castle stage she delivers a barnstorming, captivating live set which fuses her driving, relentlessly catchy and anthemic pop with a loose space opera style concept which lends the whole thing a cool, prog-ish feeling.
The space opera tone suits an artist who is constantly viewed as being different, strange and in some ways alien. She courts this throughout, playing an escaped alien fugitive who comes to set up a new race within mankind. Its a little trippy and fudged at places, but its ambition is admirable and it serves as a decent framework for Gaga to play through her hits and several of the album tracks from the sensational Born This Way album.
The themes of individuality, creativity, acceptance and equality flow through it all and Gaga regularly stopped to talk to her audience in short speeches which while clearly practiced and prepared were nonetheless delivered with great sincerity and no shortage of charm. In her interactions with the crowd, including a “show and tell” section where the stage was pelted by signs and gifts from the “Monster pit”, were handled extremely well and Gaga showed wit and intelligence. She wasn’t afraid to show her emotions to the crowd but there was a streak of awareness that manifested itself with a tongue in cheek sense of humour.
Throughout the show she held the audience in the palm of her hand, every new song greeted with squeals of delight and thousands of voices joining in, hands aloft as they saluted their heroine. Captivated faces stared at her throughout, chanting and cheers continued throughout and at times it felt less like a pop concert and more like some kind of cult meeting or political rally.
The lucky fans chosen to join her onstage or invited back stage responded with almost religious levels of euphoria, sobbing and rendered speechless by being so close to their idol.
Gaga seems aware of her position in the eyes of her audience and her heartfelt addresses to the crowd and calls for equality and acceptance were magnificent to witness. A lady in front of me, pushing 40 muttered a complaint to her partner about her “talking a lot” but she was in the incredibly small minority, with much of the crowd watching with rapt attention.
It reminded me of seeing My Chemical Romance at Download back in 2007, when Gerard Way attempted to address his fans about dealing with emotions and problems, no mean feat when avoiding bottles, and I could hear two older rockers whinging and snickering behind me at the little fans in front of me. I can’t criticize someone for taking their position as a role model seriously, its something far too many celebrities seem to ignore, but Gaga delivered it in a much more palatable way than Way’s slightly preachy tone. She never talks down to her audience, and nobody could disagree with the message of tolerance she endorses, well, nobody with a working moral compass, anyway.
The songs were phenomenal, the big hits receiving roaring approval, but clearly a large number of dedicated fans recognized the album tracks and as both Gaga records have been on heavy rotation on my iPod in recent months I sang myself hoarse by the end. Standouts for me were the anthemic “Born This Way”, the piano led ballad version of “Hair” and an amazing version of my favourite Gaga song “Bad Romance”. Each one was accompanied by wonderfully well choreographed dance routines and some incredibly intricate costumes, including one stunning creation seemed to be have styled after H.R. Geiger’s Alien design.
It was a fantastically enjoyable concert, delivered with enthusiasm and a level of sincere enjoyment that couldn’t help but charm you. The atmosphere among the crowd was one of the best I’ve ever witnessed at a gig and all my ill feelings that had built up due to Dublin’s woeful signposting soon melted away, and I left the stadium buzzing from a marvelous performance, upbeat and a little drained, I tell ya, belting out “Edge of Glory” really takes it out on the vocal chords, I don’t know how she does it.
A brilliant gig from a phenomenal performer and easily one of the best gigs I’ve ever attended.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.