Review: Lady GaGa
GRACE RIGG goes completely gaga for GaGa at the O2.
Lady GaGa. O2 Arena. 27th February.
Sat waiting for the lady to send me GaGa I look left, (aside from my stunning friend) I see two rather plain middle aged women- I imagine to be called Sandra and Linda and to my right I see two teeny ten year olds who quite evidently have GHDs and a makeup station (two things I am yet to mature too). I’m starting to worry that, although I love to dance to GaGa, I have made the wrong decision and she is more trash than talent. The count-down begins and I am still unsure of whether I love or hate. 3…2…1…
Her silhouette appeared in spotlight on a white sheet, it snapped from one freeze to the next in what appeared to be homage to Michael Jackson, with sleeves rolled up and jutting shoulder pads. Then the white sheet lifted to reveal the lady herself-purple leotard with matching oversized sunglasses. My initial glee at the visual delights of the lights, costume and hair (Dolly Parton-esq.) was unfortunately replaced by umm what song is this? It was from her new album, my fault- the rest of the crowd (mainly gay men, teeny boppers with parents, and 20 something girls) went wild. To my right the teeny boppers were lip syncing superbly and Sandra and Linda were smiling knowingly at each other-perhaps they were Sanda? This hesitance to fully let go was made worse when, after the first song Lady GaGa engage in some dramatic dialogue with one of her male dancers. This was the start of a very silly narrative which linked all her songs together into some sort of Mamma mia cohesion. Though initially this was painfully cringey, increasingly I thought it was genius; as its ridiculous nature allowed for some extravagant staging: a train, hurricane, enormous carnivorous fish, a piano in a car, a piano on fire, fire shooting out of her breasts and other areas! Genius. I would have started with “Lets Dance” or “Bad Romance”, but I would have been wrong as in retrospect it was a very clever, tongue in cheek night which appeared to be a parody of a pop concert.
That is something I have come to realize about GaGa. Not so Gaga. Every thing in the show was perfectly conceived and to my mind very effective. The program of songs allowed her to both demonstrate her Nina simone like talents on the piano, her dancing, and her Bowie esq glam rock leaving no tension between them. Highlights are hard to identify as the whole performance was of such a high quality. However the Gay anthem “Boys Boys Boys” was a personal favorite. Lady GaGa introduced the number “too all my gay boys”, at which point the males in the audience went crazy. She brandished an oversized toilet brush in her hand which she wielded like it was the statue of liberty torch. Her boys arrived on stage in tight white pants with comically overstuffed crotches which they grabbed and squeezed with hilarious vigor. Her ballads “Speechless” and “Brown Eyes” were brilliant live, the kind of songs I would never listen to, but they served to demonstrate her deep, hoarse voice to its fullest. Another highlight for me was, strangely, the video art from Nick Knight and Ruth Hogban which allowed for set changes. I stood transfixed as dark images of Lady GaGa were spliced, flipped, speeded, slowed and left me feeling a bit woozy.
Her engagement with the audience was surprisingly good, despite her emotionless face. I imagined her to be a bit awkward, but I didn’t imagine her to be funny. My favorite point was when she asked the audience “do you think I’m Sexy?” screams “’cause I think you’re sexy” screams “but the question is…do you think I’m sexy?” screams. She lay on the smoke filled floor, “In many ways I’m like tinker bell, I’ll die if people don’t love me” scream from audience. Dramatic pause, she sits up faces the audience and shouts “DO YOU WANT ME TO DIE?” Crazy screams. The only thing I didn’t love was her expressions of love to her fans. It made my skin crawl as she professed in her New Yorkean drawl “I love you, you don’t know how much you mean to me…” Blah Blah, bucket please!
To conclude, if you ever get a chance to see Lady Ga Ga live, GO! It’s a real spectacle. The costumes are mind-boggling, the backing dancers are amazing, the staging is elaborate and she is a genius! Her influences are so glaring it feels vaguely familiar. I left on a high. A high so high it almost lasted the journey on the night bus home.