Lady Gaga has long made inclusion and acceptance the topic of many of her songs and indeed, the central message of her career.
On Thursday night, before a sellout crowd of more than 16,000 at Scottrade Center, she expanded her purview to include strength and perseverance in the face of illness and death.
Gaga stopped several times during her 22-song concert, which ran a little over two hours, to talk about friends and loved ones who have passed away — her latest album, “Joanne,” is named for an aunt who died before Gaga was born — and about her struggle with severe chronic pain, which is a recurring theme of the documentary “Gaga: Five Foot Two,” now on Netflix.
“I don’t really know what to do or what to say because I can’t fix it,” she said, pausing a solo piano performance of “The Edge of Glory.” “But maybe in this moment we can realize we’re not alone.”
Later she sang “Joanne” and asked her fans to think about friends and relatives they’d lost but who made a lasting impression on them.
“When you go back and lean into the pain, that’s when you find out you can be OK,” she said.
Those moments of shared sadness and calls for resolve colored but did not sour the show, which was otherwise an extravaganza of sight and sound that was ambitious even by Gaga standards.
Backed by a five-piece band and a large ensemble of dancers, Gaga strode, sang and danced over the whole of the arena floor thanks to a series of satellite stages connected by ramps that descended from above. The stages contained a stunning array of moving parts, especially the main stage, which rose high above the crowd and then tilted to precarious angles, forcing Gaga and her dancers to practically defy gravity as they performed.
There was more. The ramps unfolded and doubled as video screens; there were pyrotechnics displays and lasers, as well as a series of short films used to cover Gaga’s numerous costume changes. And there were the costumes themselves, which were flashy and revealing, ranging from various fringed jackets and cowboy hats to a mesh-and-leather bodysuit to a long coat covered in Swarovski crystals.
Even with all of that, music still managed to be the main event. Gaga performed eight songs from “Joanne,” front-loading the show with four of them including the thumping rocker “Diamond Heart” and the rapturous “Perfect Illusion.” Later, “Come to Mama” expressed her solidarity with the LGBTQ community. “We love everybody here,” she said.
Though some of her song introductions were canned and designed to lead up to the coming song’s title, she occasionally broke from the script to acknowledge fans she could spot from the stage. “Did you make that jacket for the show? Yeah, you did. I see you,” she said to one of them. Indeed, many fans were decked out in Gaga-inspired costumes.
Gaga also dug into her back catalog for a long procession of hits, including “Poker Face,” “Alejandro,” “Born This Way,” “Applause,” “Paparazzi” and “Bad Romance.”
As impressive as the elaborate staging and choreography was, it was the moments that were the most stripped-down (meaning the music, not the costumes) that had the most impact, especially “The Edge of Glory” and the encore, “Million Reasons,” which showed off Gaga’s piano skills and powerful voice without any distractions.
Before the latter song, Gaga spoke about imagining “my baby girl dancing around one day — I can’t wait to see her.” (Her desire to have a child is another theme of the Netflix doc.) It was one more bittersweet turn to a show that was occasionally doleful and heavy-hearted, but ultimately cathartic and triumphant.
Source: Lady Gaga