Lady Gaga Tour Throws Caution to the Wind

I am no longer a Gaga concert virgin.  The controversial pop superstar recently arrived in Cleveland, Ohio for her July 14th performance along with a talented and sizable ensemble woven into the Monster Ball Tour. First things first; this was not a concert.  Lady Gaga’s performance is an experience to the Nth degree on so many levels.  If anyone out there is having any thoughts on attending one of the dates on her tour, let me say this…if in-your-face sexuality bothers you, stay away. The sexually liberated entertainer does not focus her show solely around the hot topic, but she does make it a point to bring it front and center throughout the evening.  Still interested?  Good.  Let’s get on to the music.

The evening began with opening act Semi Precious Weapons when their über flamboyant singer addressed the audience with, “Cleveland!  You don’t need a f****ng king!” making reference to Lebron James’ recent and unprofessional departure from the city’s beloved Cavaliers.  The vibrant statement accrued an instant roar of approval from the sellout audience at Quicken Loans Arena.  As their performance ensued, it was obvious this wasn’t your typical rock band.  The quartet jammed out hard rhythms on stage while front man filled the band’s set with sex, sex, and more references to sex.  Exclaiming, “I hope you all get laid,” front man Justin Tranter pranced across the stage with wicked profanities in his sparkling gold heels and pantyhose-like tights.

The band, which has been with Lady Gaga since the days of performing in front of 12-person bar crowds, has remained tightly knit, touring together since 2006.  Tranter, who may have a passion for rock n’ roll, addressed the audience by telling all the parents who brought their children to the performance, don’t be disgusted with Semi Precious Weapons for their vulgarity, but appreciate the band for introducing children to real rock n’ roll.  I beg to differ.  I have been to several concerts.  I have seen the likes many rock bands; from local jams to AC/DC, and that, my friends, is real rock n’ roll.  While laced with talented musicians, Tranter’s vocals are unimpressive and are more rant-like than they are music-oriented.  I do give the band credit for not apologizing for the way they deliver the goods; kudos to remaining true to themselves.  Nevertheless, you’ll find SPW likely playing a little longer than you’d care to listen.

And then there was Gaga.  With nothing more than a silouhette of the singer atop stairs behind a sheet of white that engulfed the stage, the audience let out a shrill heap of vocal astound.  As the rhythm began to fill the air, Lady Gaga’s lyrics followed to pave the way for the song Dance in the Dark to start off the evening.  The stage featured a very urban setting dotted with neon signs advertising everything from gold teeth to barbeque.  If it makes any sense, the set was ‘simply elaborate’, displaying things we’ve all seen, but creatively crammed into the confines of a stage.

The scenery acted chameleon-like throughout the evening, changing its appearance and morphing from cityscape to haunted hollows and beyond.  The changes were sometimes gradual yet defining as Lady Gaga dominated each environment with confident ease from song to song.  From newer material like You and I, to fan favorites like Telephone, Pokerface and Alejandro, it was blatantly obvious that this singer is not just a singer, but a very capable dancer and one very impressive musician.  You’ll find her commandeering not just a piano, but also a bass on steroids.  As for her work on the keys, the theatrics even found a home there as a conical column of flame danced from her piano upwards in carefree delight as Gaga’s fingers executed their own graceful jaunt from white key to black, then back again.

Backing up the bleach blonde firecracker was her troupe of top shelf talent consisting of a violinist, guitarists, a drummer, backup vocalists and one incredible cast of dancers.  To see the choreography come to life in person that I had only previously seen in music videos was a treat at the very least.  Not only does Gaga dance, but she keeps up with her cohorts while pouring out her lyrics.  For anyone that thinks she may be lip syncing, let me put those thoughts to a quiet burial.  Lady Gaga is not in great shape just for looks.  She maintains high quality vocal continuity with the hint of being just slightly winded.  This isn’t an attempt to point out an imperfection.  Rather, it’s a beacon to show her performance is 100% real from vocals to movement.  Dear Britney, this is what a true concert is like.

Bringing up the locale of the evening, Lady Gaga said she was offered a guided tour of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  She then addressed the audience by saying there was good news and bad news to that story.  The bad news was she never made it to the Rock Hall.  The good news is she stayed on her studio bus and wrote a complete album that day, July 14th, punching it out in record time.  She advised the audience to take heart in knowing that when that number one album-to-be hits the streets, it was inspired and written on the streets of Cleveland.  While this likely won’t be her next album released, there is a very good chance it will be the one immediately thereafter.

Despite the artistic flair and ambience of the night, my only complaint of the evening was Gaga’s ever-changing wardrobe.  It’s not the outlandish garb that was the issue, but the ongoing delays that were the result of going from one complex bit of clothing to the next.  To fill this void, the screens would show a video loop of Lady Gaga matched to a beat of techno.  The problem was the disruption this caused to the production’s flow as a spectator.  Just when you’re feeling the music, it was brought to an abrupt halt while the star changed from underwear to fins to whatever else your fashion-enabled mind can imagine.  In hindsight, this is a necessary evil in order to show off her arsenal of clothing.  Still, it was a significant subtraction of energy from the show.

Issue aside, Lady Gaga makes no apologies and has never kept her ‘uncool’ past in secrecy.  As she admitted during the show, she was never the most popular girl in high school and got picked on a fair amount.  With the success she’s achieved, Gaga pointed out to the audience that no one should apologize for who you are and to keep following your dreams.  She said how she never let those other girls get her down and she just kept on doing her own thing.  Today, she’s the hottest ticket around.  I will say the $178 face value price was a bit steep for what I got.  Even so, there is no denying what an incredible night you are in for when you head out to see Lady Gaga.  Shoot for the next price range down and you will walk away happily satisfied.


4 Responses to “Lady Gaga Tour Throws Caution to the Wind”

  1. Brian White

    I would say we have a very fair representation above of the show I saw this past Weds. evening. The ticket price was steep, yes, but as Gregg said… it’s the hottest ticket in town. I would like to thank Semi Precious Weapons for their Lebron James shout out. That was great! I only had two small complaints… the never ending costume changes were a buzz kill sometimes and it seemed like the more popular songs were lacking energy (i.e. Gaga’s “Bad Romance”), where the lesser known songs were really driven home. I do like the fact that the show was a real concert… meaning no lip-synching. Take that Britney! Bam! Heck… just right in front of me I had a show going on. “Look… there’s people up there.” LOL. You would have to be there.

  2. Gregg

    I agree about some of the more popular tunes; especially Pokerface. On the other side of the coin though, I guess if you play a song enough you get sick of singing it and it gets tougher to exhibit the same pizzazz you had for it in the beginning.

  3. Gerard Iribe

    Lady Ga-Ga = Lady Ca-Ca

  4. Brian White

    Did Gerard say something? 🙂

    @ Gregg – I just wish she didn’t lose pizzazz like she did on “Bad Romance.” That’s a killer of a song and it broke my heart to see her not into it.