Why Lady Gaga critics brought out the monster in me
‘By the way, do we know anyone who wants to see Lady Gaga in concert?’ asked my long-suffering husband one morning.
‘Whaaaaa?! Me!’ I did a happy dance.
‘No, seriously,’ he said. ‘I’ve got four tickets.’
‘Me!’ I said again. ‘Don’t you?’
‘Why would I want to see Lady Gaga?’
Eye-roll from the lady hopping up and down in excitement.
‘Because she’s Lady Gaga!’ Duh.
As our teens mocked with manic mirth at the thought of their old parents at a pop concert and thereby swiftly declined the remaining tickets, it was two middle-aged couples with poker faces who sallied forth to raise the average age in the Stockholm Globe Arena last night. We needn’t have worried. The audience was split roughly into two camps – the Gaga ‘monster’ fanbase who were crowded onto the floor in and around the five circular raised stages that were connected by gangways, and the older or less intense members of the audience sitting on the sides. Many mega monsters were sporting wigs and Gagesque get-ups, others wore newly purchased concert t-shirts or flashing rabbit ears (huh?). The rest, like us, had simply come along for a great ride and one pair of ears would prove to be more than enough.
The reviews of Gaga’s Oslo concert the previous night had received lukewarm reviews in the Swedish press. Our leading Lady, we read, had apparently told the Norwegians that anyone who had come along to hear her hits had come to the wrong place. This ArtRave: The Artpop Ball tour concert would be based on her latest album, Artpop. Oh. None of us had heard it. Or of it. Well never mind, it would still be a grand night out, right?
Right! The lights went down and the lights came up in a bevy of neon colours that transformed the plasticy decor into a gaudy, versatile setting under laser beam lights. There were almost too many places to look as dancers appeared from several entrances and as the music picked up strength, the beat pulsed straight through me. Lady Gaga made her entrance through a trap door, a mode of entrance and exit she would continue to utilise throughout the concert, from one of the five platforms or the main stage. Her numerous outrageous costumes all comprised primarily a wig, a top of sorts, fishnet tights and panties, but these would vary widely from one change to another and were often further accessorised by an outer layer of creation – such as what looked to me like a bevy of balloon Dalmatian dogs. A collection of garments was thrown onto the stage, and Lady Gaga was soon adorned in a fan flung shirt.
The monsters went wild as Gaga belted out a number of tracks that presumably came from Artpop. We were given the same no hit warning as Oslo, but a roar rushed through the crowd when the unmistakable Poker Face intro suddenly threatened to deafen us. Other hits rattled off during the course of the concert included Telephone, Bad Romance, Paparazzi, Alejandro and Edge of Glory. The Lady has a sense of humour.
And there is no mistaking her musical talent: not only does the Lady write her own material, one of the five platforms was home to a keyboard that Lady Gaga played brilliantly while singing Born This Way. She shared the wide piano stool with an overcome young monster she’d noticed crying in the crowd. Her voice was sweet and poignant, both when she sang and when she gave the gay community a shout out. The Lady has empathy.
Tummy on the gangway, butt in the air, LG precariously reached down into the eager mass of monster hands, touching and talking. She opened a box thrown onto the stage, retrieved the note inside and read it out. Scanning the crowd by the stage, Lady Gaga asked who had thrown the box. A young man dressed as skeleton (?) admitted to penning the love declaration and was rewarded with an invitation to come and join her backstage afterwards. Lady Gaga asked him how many friends were with him. He held up two fingers, and the invitation was extended to all three monsters. Lady Gaga didn’t need to do any of this. In all her communication with the crowd, Lady Gaga displayed a sense of gratitude rather than entitlement.
For a whole two hours, we clapped, raised our arms, sang, tapped our feet and were swept away by the fascinating spectacle that was rocking the arena. The place was alive and awash with colour and love.
Concert over, the animated audience were nodding and grinning as we shuffled amicably out. We all agreed it had been a fantastic concert.
Suck on that, critics! I thought to myself, as my husband declared that maybe, just maybe, he’d become a Gaga fan.
But alas. Today’s reviews showed little mercy.
And in no way reflected the concert I had seen.
I saw a Lady with a huge heart who held her audience in the palm of her hand and delivered an awesome live show.
Which is maybe, just maybe, why the unfair reviews brought out the monster in me too.