It's been a hot minute since Lady Gaga released any new music, but that didn't stop her Little Monsters from coming out in full force to support her at her sold-out Born This Way Ball at US Airways Center last night. The more than 2-hour long spectacle delivered on eye candy and high notes, all with plenty of inspirational messages rolled in for good measure.
The storyline of the night centered around Gaga's make-believe imprisonment in G.O.A.T., or Government Owned Alien Territory, and her desire to break free. A massive castle (the biggest stage set I've ever seen in all my concert-going) took up the far end of the stage, with a circular runway jutting out into the audience that allowed Gaga and her dozen-or-so dancers to catwalk around the crowd as they pleased.
The three story castle housed the band, which peeked out as the castle walls moved in and out on the stage. The gigantic set also included a walkway that moved Gaga from the top floor to the middle, as well as several rooms for Gaga to move around to. The plot of the concert made little sense, but there was so much to keep track of on stage, it didn't matter.
This was the fourth show in four nights in three states for Gagaloo, but her energy level was up. While on some tracks, such as "Born This Way" and "Bad Romance," it was evident Gaga let her backing track take control of the performance, there were many moments throughout that showed Gaga's true musical talent. As she sang songs such as "You and I," "Edge of Glory," and "Marry the Night," her vocals were spotlighted, and she definitely had no problem holding high notes. She also played piano, keytar, and guitar throughout the show, which was especially fun during the piano moments. And while some have criticized her for her weight gain recently, she looked svelte, toned, and sexy -- no matter what beef she may have with Perez Hilton-- and she seemed happy and in high spirits at the show.
But besides going through nearly 15 costumes changes and playing songs from all three of her releases, one of the most significant things about a Gaga concert is the amount of motivating talks the woman born as Stefani Germanotta gives. She spewed out many uplifting words throughout the night, such as: "Tonight, Phoenix is a place of unity, love and acceptance;" "I am not a woman. I am not a man. I am not a human. I am not a creature of the government of the United States;" "I will be everything you love tonight, and I will be everything you hate;" and more wisdom she dispensed, which you can see in the video below.
And, of course, in true Gaga form, there were plenty of moments during the concert to ignite controversy, ranging from sexual simulation of all types, to a "Black Jesus" complete with a golden crown of thorns, to female dancers wearing Hitler-style mustaches during the German-tinged song "Scheiße," to Gaga telling the audience, "If you're not having a good time, I don't give a fuck...at least I know who the fuck I am," and "I gave birth to you from my pussy in New York." She surely made a few jaws drop throughout the night, and surely she relished every moment.
While some fans (like me) may be disappointed with a lack of new music on this tour, everything else about the Born This Way Ball was pretty spectacular. The stage was out-of-this-world, the props (including a creepy hologram Gaga and a motorcycle) were sophisticated, the costumes were eye-catching (ranging from meat-based to nun-like), and Gaga showed off her singing prowess. While her concert was fun enough to watch visually on its own, it was refreshing to know Gaga still cares about her musicianship and about giving her fans a musical experience they deserve.
Check out our Critic's Notebook and videos of last night's performance on the next page. Critic's Notebook:
Personal Bias: This was the fourth time I've seen Lady Gaga in concert. While I am a huge fan of hers, I actually had low expectations going into this concert because she's been off the radar for awhile.
The Crowd: A lot of ladies, mostly in their 20s and 30s, with plenty of fabulous dude-loving dudes thrown in. Most of the attendees were in some sort of stand-out attire, many in full-on Gaga costumes.
Overheard in the Crowd: "Her show has the production of a Broadway musical," my friend Maura said.
Random Notebook Dump: Gaga slung more F-words around last night than I'd ever heard from her. Hopefully she's doing all right.
Born This Way
Black Jesus + Amen Fashion
Fashion of His Love
Heavy Metal Lover
Yoü and I
Edge of Glory
Marry the Night