Entering the 20,000+ capacity Allphones Arena last Saturday for Lady Gaga’s ArtRave: The Artpop Ball – all the talk of poor ticket sales was not at all evident. The place was absolutely heaving with Little Monsters waiting for Mother Monster to take to the stage.
The front of the stage was shrouded in a white cloth (waiting to reveal Gaga’s vision) and there were multi-level Lucite catwalks that weaved throughout the crowd with pockets of fans scattered throughout and underneath.
The show is already feeling like Gaga wants the audience to be more included in the night’s proceedings compared to her previous tours. You get the feeling she truly wants this to be an Art ‘rave.’
Then the lights go dark, the background music fades and it’s time for the show to begin.
The cloth drops to reveal a Jeff Koons-inspired igloo while Gaga’s band and backup dancers flood the stage.
The first track of the night is the album’s title track ‘Artpop,’ Gaga struts through the igloo in a showgirl leotard outfit complete with feathers and sequins, but still displaying her signature style.
She has the Koons-designed, blue gazing ball sewn into the middle of her dress. The start of the show almost feels like it should be the end as the dancers and Gaga are giving it their all as cannons shoot confetti into the crowd (and this is only the first song!).
Mid-way through ‘Artpop,’ Gaga hits the piano to remind us all that she doesn’t just sing and dance.
The tracks from the new album are plentiful, with Gaga going straight into ‘G.U.Y,’ ‘Donatella,’ and ‘Venus.’ There is so much happening around her, including impressive giant flowers sprouting all over the stage, however petite Gaga commands your attention the entire time. This show is hers and nobody else’s!
After the high energy of the first four songs Gaga takes a moment; flanked by her band and microphone in hand, she can be heard breathing heavily before she screams “I am Lady Gaga!!!”
I didn’t think the fans could get any louder but I was wrong. She goes on to tell the crowd: “Six years ago I released a song called ‘Just Dance’ and that song started one of the most authentic fan bases of the new millennium.”
Take that Beyoncé…
Gaga then proclaims that this is the Artpop Ball and, “if you did not come here for Artpop then grab a glow stick, get a drink or get the fuck out!” Strong words but valid given the criticism she has received of late.
‘Manicure’ is up next, not a personal favourite, but the crowd still loves it. She disappears for another costume change (I think we are up to costume number three but who’s counting…) Gaga returns paying homage to her first album, wearing a platinum blonde bob wig and an ‘80s-inspired glitter power suit as she performs ‘Just dance,’ ‘Pokerface’ and ‘Telephone.’
Outfit number four is a doozy! She is wearing what can only be described as a latex polka dot squid outfit (make of that what you will) whilst performing ‘Paparazzi.’ I have to say, this show doesn’t feel as produced as her last tours there are less choreographed dance routines and more natural moves from Gaga (could have something to do with that newly mended hip!) having said that, her backup dancers are certainly making an effort and killing it!
She loses the tentacles and takes a seat in a manicured silver claw that ascends above the stage, singing one of the stronger tracks from the new album : ‘Do what U want.’ Her voice is a powerhouse when she lets it shine.
Image: Getty Images
Now, off the manicured claw she again makes use of the entire stage, fans are throwing plush toys and Australian paraphernalia at her from the pit, Gaga stops and picks up an Australian flag drapes herself in it and slumps to the ground to sing an interlude of Whitney Houston’s ‘I Will Always Love You.’
Gaga makes her way back to her piano and this is where her voice really shines. She is very poised and in her element behind the keys as she dedicates ‘Dope’ to her fans saying, “Close your eyes and listen to these words, I wrote them just for you”.
Meanwhile there is a guy on Grindr next to me completely spoiling the moment…
She talks about writing her next song while she was just a “baby superstar” on tour and the influence that her gay friends have had on her life and the love she has for her gay fans.
The song is of course, ‘Born This Way,’ only it’s stripped back to let the lyrics really cut through.
‘Edge of Glory’ follows, but only a quick sample of Gaga singing the chorus a capella while she makes her way back to the front of the stage. Once at the front she is joined by her dancers again and they’re all dressed in SM outfits for ‘Sexxx Dreams.’ This is the raunchiest routine of the night.
Gaga then goes does her next costume change on stage ripping off her wig and stripping down to only a pair of fish nets, announcing that she likes to make people “feel uncomfortable.” Mission accomplished.
When she is fully dressed in what seems to be a Harajuku-girl-goes-to-a-rave costume, Gaga goes on to perform the first single from Artpop ‘Applause’ and then straight into ‘Swine’ which is a sensory overload – the confetti cannons are back, strobe lights and dancers with pig masks start spewing fake blood from their mouths.
What a way to finish! But we all know an encore is coming…
Gaga returns to the stage after a few moments wearing a long platinum blonde wig and a jewel encrusted gown (an obvious nod to her friend Donatella Versace).
She takes up position at the piano for one last time and performs ‘Gypsy,’ probably the strongest pop track off the album. Her voice is again flawless; she takes the time to slowly walk across the catwalk back to the front of the stage to finish the show, thanking the crowd and her crew.
Wow. What a show and if the art and pop worlds were to get married and live happily ever after then Gaga would definitely be their celebrant.