In the world of dance, not unlike the world of heavy drinking, pacing is everything and Lady Gaga maintained her focus and energy so well at Tuesday night’s “ARTPOP Ball” at MSG, where so many other nights, certainly the tail end of the Monster Ball Tour, she crashed and burned in long long long set ups and costume changes , that she moved the proceedings along and was a thorough pleasure. A 20 song set which was just about a cotton candy steamroller for the first hour till it slowed down at the midway point and fizzled a little towards the end.
Five years into Lady Gaga’s career and she has hit a major problem. While I loved ARTPOP, I’m in the minority and the album was a big time tank. The result is a less than full Madison Square Garden after years of selling out multiple dates. It wasn’t just the songs, “Applause” was a hit and “Gypsy” deserved to be huge, “Do What U Want” was big time pop and r&b and she even brought out T.I. for Tuesday nights “Jewels N Drugs”, but the last three songs didn’t do the trick and the album sunk. One problem was she expected too much of her fanbase, another she had trouble maintaining the semblance of sincerity. She couldn’t connect her Little Monster one world ambi-sexual inclusiveness to a wider audience, I mean a not cult audience, who could actually buy in.
There was too much distance between who she said she was and who she actually may have been. By the time Gaga had her own Thanksgiving special on NBC , she might as well have been Elvis singing to a hound dog and if the songs weren’t there, Born This Way was a sophomore jinx that managed to maintain the illusion, and the cult wasn’t believable, what did that leave?
It left her stage production and she was way too busy on stage to be very goo., I’d seen her a couple of times before catching her headlining turn at Jingle Ball and was very disappointed. The 45 minute format in Jingle Ball forced her to concentrate her energies and she was much better for it, but the tours were loud when they should have been intimidate and always, too much pressure on her and too much pressure on us.
Less feel good and more feel the music, more bang bang she shot us down, more straight fun with a buncha session rockers who managed to maintain the illusion Saturday night. It was something we didn’t get that at the earliest incarnation of ARTPOP Ball on stage, a dreadful run through the album at the ITunes Festival, a dragged out affair which only the most forgiving of her fans could stomach. It’s like craziness: you can’t sell sincerity folks.
Though finally, Tuesday night Gaga apparently learnt her lesson so despite a surfeit of the new one , all of it actually, and only the title track from Born This Way, and a handful of hits, all of which could’ve added up to a real stinker, it was a heads down no nonsense rock and roll fun show. Huge LCD screens, big time dancing, one smack in the head after another, gorgeous costumes and no acting out of the songs, smashing songs like “Poker face”., “Telephone”, a slowed to a crawl “Born To Run” (hey they can’t all be winners) and a terrific near end to the evening with “Applause”, turned the trick. More of the same and better.
Yeah, we are all little monsters in it together doesn’t really mean much and yes, she hasn’t written a song as good as “Bad Romance” in way too long, and yeah, popstars need consistency, and Lady Gaga seems not to have it really. But popstars also need energy and joy and a throbbing exciting basslike brilliance and that she sure does have. I have never seen Lady Gaga better, stepping back from all the mistakes you can mention and just swinging for the fences. Terrific.
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