Saturday night at Dodger Stadium, one of the final dates on her “Chromatica Ball” tour, Lady Gaga had to maintain the on-base % exceptionally high because San Diego’s Freddie Freeman had been hitting home runs. At this point in the mega tour, Little Monsters had Googled Gaga’s setlists and setpieces out of curiosity, but there weren’t many surprises left.
Anyway, being prepared doesn’t lessen the impact of a skilled performer who is intent on being as inhumanly cold as possible while, at the same time, sounding as warm as any celebrity you’ve ever encountered. Should we call that a slider in baseball?
The singer reminded the crowd that they had waited a long time for this moment since Gaga is currently the last of the artists who originally announced tours for mid-2020 to begin performing. She’s not Taylor Swift, who threw her “Lover Fests” into the trash when they weren’t selling well enough because Gaga has been unfazed in her efforts to promote her upcoming album, “Chromatica,” which isn’t due out until 2020.
As the show dragged on for more than two hours, Gaga’s increasingly extended asides took on the tone of a post-pandemic victory: “The whole planet did not disappear. “In a sense, we’re all here,” she remarked. You can feel her determination not to let the “Chromatica” album be the “lamb that got lost in the storm,” This serves as an undercurrent of retribution for the album itself.
Extra points for guts go to Gaga because she kicks off every show on this tour by performing three of the night’s top hits (if not the biggest) as an introduction to the “Chromatica”-centric meat of the performance.
She not only takes care of these matters promptly, but she also performs them while in various states of immobility, beginning with “Bad Romance,” which she sings while enclosed in a massive steely apparatus that may stand in for an exoskeleton, sarcophagus, or good old-fashioned iron maiden. Is this supposed to represent being trapped by one’s prior achievements? Or is it just the X-treme coolness of the costumes themselves?
Title cards intermittently emerged on screen, establishing “Act I” through “Act V” and subsequent finales and denouements once those three opening hits were out of the way and Gaga reclaimed full reign over her life and limbs for the next hour and 45 minutes. Unlike her long-running “Enigma” performance in Las Vegas, which had scripted, philosophical speeches, this tour features none of them, so it’s unclear whether she has a natural narrative arc in mind or the “act” thing merely serves as a cover for wardrobe changes.
Every time Lady Gaga was out of sight for more than four or five minutes, it felt like momentum was slowing to a stop. But as far as costume spectacle goes, you can’t say it wasn’t worth the wait when the singer would emerge from the shadows wearing what seemed like an innards-revealing, torso-hugging Plexiglas bodysuit, or even better, masked as a lovely, if terrifying, purple mantis.
Never underrate the power of a fixed shot of a captivating performer in an insectoid leotard; for much of this solo stretch, she was filmed by a single camera connected to the fairyland piano, which was mesmerizing.
The diehards appeared especially pleased that Gaga had introduced a designated hitter into the show about halfway through this tour, switching out “1000 Doves” for an earnest protest song from the otherwise unrepresented “Joanne” album, “Angel Down,” which was introduced by a message about the fight for reproductive rights. But the segment’s and night’s most memorable song was “Edge of Glory,” which sounded ridiculously corny on record due to its overzealous Springsteenian goals but was all Gaga-ian when performed live and with minimal production.
Some of us will never forget Gaga’s “Jazz and Piano” residency in Vegas as the time she was more Rosemary Clooney than Grace Jones, and no other activities she does will ever live up to that. Of course, if you only hear Lady Gaga singing Irving Berlin songs, you’re missing out. As a lively prelude to her final stretch back on the main stage, which made her dance-teria style seem to like her most excellent mode, her performance’s solo portion was altered but still had an effect.
Gaga continues to demonstrate that the fascinating celebrities are those who tread carefully between extremes. She might have milked the authenticity card for all it was worth after “Joanne,” especially once the public discovered — via “A Star Is Born” — that she’s conventionally gorgeous. But like the Texans who used to display “Keep Austin odd” bumper stickers proudly, Lady Gaga is resolute in maintaining her unique brand of weirdness.
By the end of an episode, you can tell that all she wants to do is give a big embrace to the world’s underprivileged people. But it’s not apparent how that’ll happen without blood being spilled, what with the jagged shoulder cones that are part of the costume.
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