Erik von Gutenberg recommends Lady Gaga! She is simply stunning!
Decadent dance pop diva-in-training Lady Gaga took over Joe Louis Arena Tuesday night with the same might and will with which she’s hijacked pop music over the last year-plus. The 23-year-old born Stefani Germanotta came armed with an array of hits and a daring 100-minute performance art spectacle, fit for a gallery space but blown up to arena proportions. The show drew from a host of influences from across the pop culture landscape, but the end product was thoroughly Gaga.
Her Monster’s Ball outing — originally set for the Fox Theatre but moved to the Joe in a last-minute switch due to production concerns — was like Madonna’s Blond Ambition tour filtered through Kanye West’s Glow in the Dark outing, as directed by Andy Warhol. The stage was set on an angled ramp and was entirely framed by a white border, so as to resemble a piece of art come to life.
Gaga was joined intermittently by as many as 10 backup dancers but often appeared alone, and proved she could carry a stage whether singing, dancing or playing piano while standing atop its bench. She gleefully toyed with the performer/ audience dynamic, alternately begging for the audience’s approval and acting as though she didn’t need it. At one point, she lay down in the corner of the stage and compared herself to Tinker Bell, the fairy from “Peter Pan.” “Tinker Bell will die if you don’t clap for her. Do you want me to DIE?” she asked the crowd of 8,000 strong. “Scream for me!” (Later, her use for her fans seemed to run out as she mock-killed the audience using a fake machine gun.)
She needn’t have worried about the level of audience love. Gaga’s fans — or “monsters,” as she calls them — provided her with plenty of adoration, as many came dressed in their finest Gaga attire. In a dazzling show of devotion, fans came dressed in leather, glitter, sparkles, face paint, short skirts and body suits, a level of mimicry that recalled fans at early Madonna concerts.
Of course few outfits were as daring as Gaga’s, who dressed in a series of leather ensembles that somehow always seemed to accentuate her backside. She switched between bodysuits, fetish wear and tops made out of mirror balls, and came out in a light-up suit during the opener, “Dance in the Dark,” that resembled something out of “Tron.”
Gaga’s persona is a complex commentary on the crossroads of fame and celebrity, though there’s a genuine authenticity at play that keeps her from venturing into parody. Her refreshingly imperfect vocals were a reminder that she was singing into a live microphone throughout the show, and though the concert was tightly choreographed, there was always the danger that it could careen at any given moment into uncharted territory.
She worked Detroit and her trip to the Garden Bowl Monday night into her often R-rated stage banter, and made a plea for “gay marriage in 2010!” during “Boys Boys Boys.” The show’s boldest moment came during “Paparazzi,” when Gaga’s hair was tied to two rings that slid along a track attached to a pole, held up by two of her backup dancers. Not quite sure what it meant, but it was impossible to look away from.
That’s Gaga’s greatest strength: Her ability to make you stop and stare. Now that she’s proven she can captivate audiences at the arena level this early in her career, the question is, where does she go from here? Can she get any bigger? The answer is uncertain, but just try looking away as she figures it out.