“The Monster Ball is a place where all the freaks are outside, and I locked the doors” -Lady Gaga
If you want to see Broadway meets Halloween high fashion with old Hollywood horror on crack cocaine, go to Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball Tour. I’ve been a Gaga fan since the beginning of her superstar career and have been looking forward to her second time coming to Los Angeles . Let me tell you, she exceeds expectations on every level.
As a classically and jazz trained pianist and woodwind player, I tend to be extremely critical of live shows, doesn’t matter if it’s the LA Philharmonic or some startup garage band. It’s hard to completely enjoy a performance because I know the technicalities behind what makes good music good. I left my years of training at the door that night and just appreciated everything for what it was: simply incredible. The energy of the fans was contagious, the costumes outrageous, the monologues heartwarming and wittingly daring, and her talent completely overwhelmed me almost to the brink of superfan tears (I know, I’m one of THOSE, but I’m just really moved by a good performance).
If you’ve ever been to the Staples Center, you know how big it is. It easily fits over 20,000 people in it and the show had been sold out for months. I don’t usually like going to shows at big venues because it’s hard to get a good liveliness from a crowd of those proportions, but I shouldn’t have been worried because Gaga fans never disappoint. I think every fourth person you came across was in some kind of Gaga costume, men included!, and most of them were homemade. And if you didn’t have a Gaga costume on, you were wearing ballsy attire, even for LA: four-inch platform heels in patent leather of every color, lots skin tight spandex and leather, studs, Christmas lights, boas, fishnets, leotards, red lipstick, fake eyelashes, and those were just the gays. ;-) It was easy to get lost in the excitement of seeing everyone’s clothing during the opening act, but when the intro and the beginning of Dance in the Dark came on everyone was instantly on their feet and screaming “GAGA, GAGA, GAGA!!”… and then she sang. She didn’t move a muscle for the better part of what felt like an hour of singing, and then BARELY moved her leg and everyone went crazy! After that the rest was passion, tears, blood, and amazing music.
I’m always worried an artist isn’t going to be as good live as recorded, but our Lady has an incredible voice, and I kicked myself for doubting her to be better on a recording. Silly me. Her voice is so strong with such good range and timbre that she belongs on a stage and not in a studio.
A few highlights: her piano came out of the hood of a car, it was also lit on fire during Speechless, she addressed the penis rumor with a risqué disco stick dance, and her jazzy/bluesy jam sesh with her band during Teeth gave me chills. She also gave a shout out to us supporters of LGBT and the overturned Prop 8 decision, after which all the male dancers came out proudly shaking everything that could be shaken during Boys Boys Boys. I also saw a little man on man affection on stage which made me very happy. She sang her new song You and I, which was another one of those piano ballads that sadly, while a beautifully written and performed, probably won’t make it very far on the radio.
The only thing negative that I can say is that I really don’t care for the live version of Alejandro. I’ve seen YouTube videos of it and not cared for it then, and Thursday night was no different for me. I still love the song and danced like a fool to it, but, eh.
I will always appreciate the ironic class and inner beauty Gaga shows in person. While shocking, she is never lewd, never crass or insulting. She is uplifting and full of humility and appreciation for her fans. Her life is a performance now and she has a good understanding of her part. She might be kooky, she might dance to her own beat, but most artists are and do, especially those with as much talent as she.
She announced that her new single had been picked that day by her and her team of friends, family, and producers. We begged and begged her to sing it for us! Disappointingly, she would not, but this got me super excited for her new album! And for another tour that will follow that, which I hope to see in her hometown of New York when that time comes, and you all better be there with me!
Bottom line: before you die, go see Gaga live.