December 1: Lady Gaga at the Wang Theater in Boston, MA (Concert Review)

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I can’t say I’ve ever seen Madonna do that one.

A projection of Gaga appears on the giant LED screen in front of us, floating slowly across the stage as the Vandalism remix of Ce Ce Peniston‘s “Finally” surges into the speakers. On the right side, a small ticker begins counting down, starting at sixty seconds and counting down.

The timer ticks down to zero. The crowd bursts into a frenzy as purple and green smoke begin wafting from the stage floor. At once, the stage goes dark, only to be re-illuminated by the dull glow of green, cross-hair lasers.

And then, she appears. Performing behind the green laser grid projection, Lady Gaga‘s LED-lit body, frozen in monster vogue, forms a sillouette against the industrial, diamond-shaped stage behind her. “Silicone, saline…” she begins with cold-blooded vitriol, as the Monster Ball takes way and the claws come out from everywhere within the audience.

Video courtesy of YouTube user, TabbyButah.

Filled to the brim with tweens and dads, sloshed twenty-somethings and gaggles of gays, the Gaga concert was pretty much as I expected audience-wise. As I tweeted during the show,  it was  “Roughly the same clientele as the Britney concert, though with better shoes.”

The first opener (and Gaga’s longtime tour-mates), Semi Precious Weapons, were a happy surprise: A cross between Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the better parts of Glambert and a hint of Jeffree Star, the glam-rock outfit thrashed through a set of their finest electro-rock, yelling obscenities at the crowd about showing their tits, performing cunnilingus and encouraging us all to get laid tonight.

It worked, as the crowd cheered and fist-pumped in approval. By the time their set is over, the energy in the theater is electric–so much so that the main act should have come next.

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Instead, it was time for Kid Cudi. Everyone (well, not me…elitist?) was on their feet, swaying to his bass-heavy beats with their cups of brew raised high. As I told my friends during the show, the music was good and all, but I just didn’t care (aside from his brief performance of his David Guetta collaboration, “Memories,” at which point I briefly stood and danced.)

normal_51Photo courtesy of Phellipe at GagaDaily.

With the exception of “Telephone” (saving the song for a Beyonce cameo somewhere down the line, perhaps?), Gaga performed the entirety of The Fame Monster, as well as most of The Fame and even, to my greatest of  delights, “Fashion,” a shelved Fame track once covered by the impossibly untalented trash bag, Heidi Montag, spanning nineteen tracks in total.

Video courtesy of YouTube user, TabbyButah.

The concept of the Monster Ball Tour, like the album itself, is a meshing of technology (digital countdowns, scanning lasers) with the macabre (gothic Gaga, guns, and growls). Highlights were beyond frequent, altering between genuine show-shopping entertainment and somewhat unintended hilarity.

The latter applies to instances such as in “Alejandro,” where the singer danced a semi-awkward, interpretive dance with two of her male back-up dancers. As the song began, one of the two dancers knelt down behind Gaga, thrust his fist through her legs and, in one sweeping motion, lifted the singer…FROM HER VAGINA. I can’t say I’ve ever seen Madonna do that one.

“Paparazzi” was another winning moment, as Gaga slowly marched out from the right side of the stage wearing 40-foot pigtails being carefully held by her flock of dancers. As she sat perched atop the broken-metal light fixture, three dancers came out and snipped at her locks until they fell. Rapunzel no more, as it were.

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Honestly though, there were just too many moments that require full attention attention here: Writhing around the dentist’s chair for “Paper Gangsta;” the shirtless male celebration of “Boys Boys Boys;” her playing the keytar atop a glass cube for “Just Dance.” It was all so juicy!

As for the artist herself, Gaga’s onstage persona is a mixed bag of vulnerability and sado-masochistic delight: She’s weird; she’s broken; she’s entirely dependent on approval and validation. “Do you love me?” she would ask time and time again behind a coquettish smirk. “Do you think I’m sexy? WOULD YOU FUCK ME?” she’d shriek even more urgently, only to be met with wild hooting and cat calls from around the theater.

normal_35Photo courtesy of Phellipe at GagaDaily.

The Gaga that saunters to the audience and, using her best baby voice, coos “I love you, my little monsters. When you’re feeling lonely, I’m lonely too…” is not the same Gaga that performs “Teeth” only seconds later, who, upon clawing her way into the front row and pointing her finger menacingly into one monster’s face, shouts: “SHOW ME YOUR FUCKING TEETH!” It’s a terrifying dichotomy, to say the least.

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Yet Lady Gaga proved an adept entertainer throughout the show. When she wasn’t harassing the fans, she was busy barking out choreography for us to emulate: Hands! Teeth! Claws! Guns! Every song had its own designated hand sign that the audience was required to provide. It worked well, making the show feel even more intimate and interactive than it already was.

For an artist so heavily driven by the visual, it was somewhat surprising to see how focused and minimal the visuals actually were: There are no elaborate set designs, less dramatic wardrobe changes than one might have expected, and only a handful of high-contrast interludes. Instead, the show’s energy is carried solely on the (very high) shoulders of the performer.

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Yet even with the lack of narrative in video, the few interludes we did get were sublime: My favorite of course being the brief visual study of the dual Gaga personality: As a blonde-bobbed Gaga poses in a white couture dress, the dark-haired version appears standing next to her suddenly, vomiting what appeared to be neon blue milk all over the dress, repeated and reversed relentlessly time and time again. Mmm…

Later toward the end, Gaga indulged in her inner freak once more, donning absurd, comical reinterpretations of spiked fetish garb, feather and bone pieces, and gas masks featuring a Mickey Mouse print while reciting a passage about perception and art. Is it too soon in her career to declare it ‘Classic Gaga’?

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Throughout, Gaga entertained us with a few personal anecdotes regarding her relationship with fame and excess, as with the opening of “Beautiful, Dirty, Rich”: Pacing the stage, the singer reminisced about the days she spent living in New York with her friends, having no money and gallivanting around town with the lead singer of Semi Precious Weapons.

(Funny, as I remember reading about how she used to spend her days doing ‘bags and bags’ of cocaine that were hand-delivered to her Lower East Side apartment but sure Gaga, whatever you say…you were ‘poor.’)

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Settling down for the ballad portion of the show (can I call her only two slow songs the ‘ballad portion’?), Gaga announced that her mother was in the audience tonight. As she broke into song–which was pitch-perfect faithful to the studio recording–she urged us all to sing along during the chorus so that her mother, scratch that, her father could hear us.

Sitting back and hearing the audience scream the chorus, she was immediately overcome. “You know all the words…” she began incredulously, wiping her eyes for a moment as the crowd exploded with support. Gotta love those Gaga tears!

normal_49Photo courtesy of Phellipe at GagaDaily.

With “Speechless” over, Gaga began plucking away at the piano, stretching, standing and fussing all over the piano chair like an impatient 12-year-old at her opening recital. At one point, she even began raising one leg high into the air behind her while riffing alo ng with her acoustic version of “Poker Face,” a look that just about resembled this. At that point, Gaga got a bit of Regina Spektor fever in her, pulling at her high heel behind her while singing sweetly: “I hope you enjoy my show…If you don’t like it, you can fucking leave!”

normal_67Photo courtesy of Phellipe at GagaDaily.

It wasn’t until the show’s final moment that the crowd truly seemed at its most manic state (and rightfully so!) as Gaga performed her greatest song to date, “Bad Romance.” Clad in a black top and white high-waist pants, Gaga nailed all the moves from the video, causing the entire audience to raucously jump and yelp along, from the song’s first charging chorus until her final bow.

As Gaga returned to the darkness, an outro video blurred the video screens: It’s Gaga, suited in her best “Bad Romance” skull couture, getting an actual tattoo–the word “Dad,” on her upper back. Watching her in slow-motion in those final moments of the process, meshing her personal life with her business, the concert at which we were all watching her being tattooed, solidifies the fact that Gaga truly does live and breathe her art. Lady Gaga really is Gaga, 110% of the time.

Photo courtesy of Phellipe at GagaDaily.

While it’s becomes more difficult to reconcile the sky-high prices of some artists and their arena-wide tours, Lady Gaga has defied the pop landscape once again by staging a show worth the $300 her contemporaries are charging for only a $60 entry fee.

Aside from a few slip-ups during the show (minor trips and falls along the way, some lights and sound cues coming too early), Gaga’s already cleared enough hurdles in her career as a performer to come startlingly close to garnering comparison to the superstar idols who’ve done this for far longer than she has.

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As an artist, Gaga remains in her own league, strictly of her own kind by being perhaps the most art-minded, intellectual personalities to ever break onto the mainstream pop scene. The Monster Ball Tour is the next step in the natural evolution of Gaga’s artistry; yet another rung in her blood-laden ladder to icon status.

And now, I collapse…This little monster is toasted.

Shoot ‘Em, Love ‘Em and Get Sexy Right Now: Performances That Happened in the UK this Weekend.

Shoot ‘Em, Love ‘Em and Get Sexy Right Now: Performances That Happened in the UK this Weekend.

First up is Florence and the Machine, performing live at T4’s Stars of

Daily B: Happy Birthday, Britney!

Daily B: Happy Birthday, Britney!

The cover of December’s issue of Elle, courtesy of BMK Forums

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