Lady Gaga brought her own version of the Electric Daisy Carnival to US Airways Center when her ArtRave: The Artpop Ball came through. The show featured neon ravewear and leg warmers, pacifier shots, glow-in-the-dark balloon backpacks, light-up squishy balls, and stuffed animals galore. It was the most colorful Gaga concert she's done out of all her stints in the Valley, with 20 people on stage to keep the high-energy momentum going.
Like every Gaga show, she used the concert to show off her motivational speaking skills. She's a performer who talks almost as much as she sings, dispensing gems like:
- "[Six years ago when after 'Just Dance' came out], we watched the birth of the most authentic fan base of this millennium...We support social justice. We breed compassion...We are all creatively fucking free."
- "Art is everywhere. Tonight, we're going to do what we do best. We're going to stick to our guns. We're not a sell-out bunch of kids...Grab a glow stick, or get the fuck out."
- "It's not about if you get knocked down. It's about if you can get back up."
- "Your life is your own canvas. You paint your own fucking picture."
She accepted tons of gifts her Little Monsters threw on stage throughout the night, from a "Princess High" pot leaf-adorned jean jacket she donned, to a Little Mermaid stuffed Sebastian, to a drawing of her and new collaborator Tony Bennett, with who she just released the single "Anything Goes" off their new jazz album, Cheek to Cheek. She even read a fan letter out loud before inviting the writer backstage.
She broke down the fourth wall further than any most artists would dare to do, with an on-stage costume change that revealed both her wigless hair and her bare breasts, save for some pasties. She insisted she was one with the audience, and she wasn't afraid to prove it by showing off her physical vulnerabilities.
She powered through about 20 songs, including the best from her current album, Artpop, including "Swine," "Do What U Want" and "G.U.Y." She also barreled through her hits, though her nearly two-hour show and love of conversing forced her to sing some truncated versions, such as "Telephone" and "Poker Face."
Though Lady Gaga hasn't had huge radio hits lately that can compare to some of her breakthroughs, the show was still nearly sold out, with fans dressing up just like Gaga and throwing dozens of presents up to her. She's mastered cultivating the relationships with her current fans rather than caring about how many new ones she gains, which is a smart strategy -- admitting there were lots of familiar faces in the crowd and bringing several costumed super-fans on stage to dance with her.
And while the visual spectacle gave audience members plenty to take in besides the vocals, Gaga proved her singing prowess with stripped-down versions of "The Edge of Glory" and "Born This Way," along with a stirring piano performance of "Dope," which she dedicated to her fans.
"I always tell people when it comes to my live shows, the audience is more than 50 percent of what makes it great," Gaga said. Indeed, it didn't matter that confetti shot out onto the crowd several times throughout the night or that goodies were thrown to fans -- they were there to take in Gaga and all her social justice wisdom.
Personal Bias: This was my fifth time seeing Gaga live -- I've even dressed up as her for Halloween.
The Crowd: Mixed guys and gals, mostly in their teens and 20s.
Overheard in the Crowd: "Is she pregnant?" Gaga may have just put on some pounds, but a side view showed off a rounded bump.
Random Notebook Dump: Opener Lady Starlight brought zero enthusiasm to pump up the crowd and was a major disappoint. It was also interesting (not in a good way) Gaga didn't take the stage until 9:50 p.m.
Artpop G.U.Y. Donatella Venus MANiCURE Just Dance Poker Face Telephone Paparazzi Do What U Want Dope Born This Way The Edge of Glory Judas Aura Sexxx Dreams Alejandro Bad Romance Applause Swine Encore: Gypsy
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