Sunday, August 7, 2022

Lady Gaga’s wild, beautiful Chromatica Ball proves she’s still one of pop’s greats

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On stage, Gaga is burning like a star in the sky: Britain is set to brace for an amazing show in London next week

This was the Gaga of yesteryear – the era-defining single “Bad Romance” and its hugely successful release in 2009 The Glory Monster. However, lately we’ve had so many iterations of Lady Gaga – jazz singer Gaga, Haus Labs makeup guru Gaga, A star Is Born Ingenue Gaga, Rockstar Gaga and last spoke with an Italian accent for about a yearHouse Gucci Gaga – that sometimes it’s easy to forget who she is, or at least who she was when she entered the cultural imagination.

The first look we got from Lady Gaga at Stockholm’s Friends Arena was a throwback. On the big screen, before stepping onto the actual stage, Gaga was shown in shadow, more four-legged creature than human, with bulbous heels and a tall, imposing crown.

Lady Gaga, née Stefani Germanotta, an Italian girl from New York City (as she likes to say), began her career as a musical theater trained singer-songwriter, naming herself after a Queen single. After building a following with hair bows (were we ever that young?) and tracks like “Just Dance” and “Poker Face,” Gaga — and her output — grew weirder and bolder as her grasp on mainstream pop became inevitable. She was Mother Monster, a cult leader who bled from her eyes at the VMAs and arrived at the Grammys in an incubator.

This image of Gaga — the provocateur, always ready to surprise or undermine — is most associated with her as a live performer. But from the time she released her country-adjacent album Joanne In 2016, she seemed to go AWOL for a while, leaving in her place a bona fide superstar who was nominated for Oscars and broke records with legends like Tony Bennett without needing the shock tactics or agenda-setting pop music of yore.

But 2020 proved the perfect time for a return to pop – this time shaped by bold house music – only to show that, having mastered the big screen, she really can still do it all. her fifth album chromaticismwas what fans had been craving for years: it contained a concept (Chromatica, she said, was a new world to her invention), heaps of bangers, rarely a downtempo moment, and an awfully camp performance from Elton John, with it let’s not forget what a big deal it is nowadays.

if chromaticism gave a glimpse of how Lady Gaga could still innovate within pop, then the heavily delayed (due to Covid) and highly anticipated Chromatica Ball – stopping in Sweden for the second time ever – would be one too new interpretation of the Gaga stage persona of their pop tours.

Always a wild rock star, her quirks on stage make her one of the best performers to see live in the world, and it’s stayed that way: Of course, when we finally got to see Gaga for real, she performed Bad Romance out of a leather sarcophagus-style robe, and even as she walked to her piano to give beautiful, demure renditions A star Is Born Tracks “Shallow” and “Always Remember Us This Way” and “Edge of Glory” and “1000 Doves”, she did this as a very glamorous bug, decorative headdress and all.

Despite the mask, however, as usual, there are few singers who do better when it comes to just their voice and the keys; Many just wouldn’t be good enough to let loose like Gaga always could, and tonight those tracks accounted for her best vocals, swell to fill the arena, her voice rich and familiar.

But it wasn’t just about Gaga’s signature intimate moments, turning rooms of thousands into 50-seat dive bars (as she played the opening bars of “Born This Way,” she cooed into the mic, “Just a reminder, this is a Ball, and Everyone is Welcome”): The Chromatica Ball was a full multimedia production featuring film, live instruments, pyrotechnics and dancers.

The show followed a loose narrative, with the setlist broken up into acts that seemed to take us from Gaga’s beginnings on the planet Chromatica to her rise as a freedom fighter ready to fight for her values ​​of self-expression and love. The format worked well enough, although the crowd’s attention seemed to dwindle a bit during sharing.

While some acts could have been shorter to keep up the momentum, the third was particularly strong, ending with “Free Woman,” which effectively saw Gaga move through the crowd, away from the front stage, and onto a smaller one in the center of the arena , on which her piano stood.

As the night wore on, the show felt like both a celebration of all the places Gaga has been the pop star of and a showcase for her latest album, and some of the most exciting moments came as we saw chromaticism included in Gaga’s established oeuvre.

During the standout album “Babylon,” Gaga performed exciting new choreography informed by the Fosse-influenced style she’s adopted throughout her career, while “Sour Candy” features an earlier act with long-running hit “Telephone.” was married. The costumes constantly referenced earlier eras, and the section where Gaga dressed in authoritative leather and vinyl, reminiscent of her 2009 music video “Alejandro,” was particularly cool.

In fact, there wasn’t an element in the production that felt random, as Gaga herself knew that being back on tour was of great importance: she suffers from fibromyalgia and has had to cancel concert dates in Europe in the past due to illness. (making their return even more special last week, starting July 17 in Dusseldorf).

The Chromatica Ball therefore appears to have been conceived as a new way for her to perform live (from 2018 to May of this year she played just over 50 dates at a Vegas residence; there are fewer dates on this tour than ever, and It contains continuously filmed sections that provide longer breaks between sections). Speaking on tonight’s “1000 Doves,” a new addition to the already much-shared Chromatica Ball setlist, she emotionally told the audience, “For everyone who believed in me that I could get well, thank you.”

Seeing her from behind was wonderful, especially because of all her on-stage personalities, Gaga seems to feel most single-minded when she’s burning like a star in the sky in front of a live audience. Perhaps this is the truest, most genuine Gaga of them all.

During her first encore (the second saw her in a metallic claw which she performed Top Gun: Maverick soundtrack single “Hold My Hand” of course) she performed “Stupid Love” and danced the choreography with the dedication that has always characterized her live show. While she’s able to achieve so much and occupy so many spaces, from acting to jazz singing, this song reveals something of her own desires: “All I ever wanted was love,” she sang tonight and wrapped her arms around herself.

On stage, touring a new show, Lady Gaga can finally receive that love. Audiences preparing to see her in the UK next week should be in for quite a show.

The Chromatica Ball lasts until September 17th and takes place on July 29th and 30th at the London Stadium

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