WASHINGTON – White smoke billowed from the top of the stage as if a new pope had been appointed at the Vatican.
But it was only part of the long introduction for the high priestess of the doll, Lady Gaga, to make her striking entrance, cocooned in an upright metal tomb to wear “Bad Romance” on the belt. The tight music, riddled with metal guitars, paralleled her claustrophobic presentation, immediately announcing that this highly anticipated Chromatica Ball was going to be a trippy journey.
Fans have had to endure a two-year postponement of Gaga’s live production to complement her 2020 “Chromatica” album, and the kick-off of Monday’s US tour, which spans the country through September, fueled Gaga’s peak. .
Even with a headset mic on, her powerful voice ripped through Nationals Park in Washington as she broke free from her shield to bounce and spin through “Just Dance” during “Poker Face.”
The spirited opening salvo preceded a four-act spectacle with vague themes of Gaga’s holy trinity of identity, reinvention and acceptance. Artistic video interludes were an understandable necessity to accommodate set and costume changes, but their duration often slowed the momentum.
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Still, it wasn’t too hard to slip back into Gaga’s world when she returned to the stage, whether she was on a record for “Alice,” an identity crisis on a disco beat, or begging fans to “raise your paws.” !” during the raging “Replay.”
A lithe 36, Gaga sparkled between what looked like acres of dancers and a glam band tucked into niches on the massive stage. Her innate acting abilities crept into her fierce facial expressions, zooming in on the two circular screens on either side of the stage as she stormed through “911” with its frenetic red lights.
During the two-hour show, some predictable stadium attributes popped up, including the plumes of fire that spewed around the venue during a frothy “Phone” (because that’s what this sticky summer night needed – more heat) and the inevitable move to the B-stage. the back of the floor.
But as delightful as it was to watch Gaga and her top dance crew “Vogue” make their way through “Babylon” in matching gold satin, and boogie to the smaller setup during “Free Woman”, minimalist Gaga was, as always, the most rewarding. part of the night.
It also allowed her to sideline the choreographed exuberance to connect with her fans, a devoted, loving horde that she clearly adores equally.
“I see a lot of people in this audience who know exactly who you are!” she proclaimed at the beginning of the glorious hymn of acceptance, “Born This Way.” Beginning behind a piano adorned with tree branches, Gaga imbued the song with deliberate phrasing before bursting into the mirror ball version with a handful of dancers yelling, “They better not mess with gay marriage in this country!”
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While Gaga could have stayed in place, she instead disappeared for another costume change, reappearing in black fishnet stockings and a matching purple and black leotard and headpiece that looked like a prop from the “Star Wars” cantina.
But the flashy outfit contrasted sharply with the most compelling part of the concert.
Between two gems of ‘A Star is Born’, the magical ‘Shallow’ – her voice a mighty, versatile instrument – and the tender yet grandiose piano ballad ‘Always Remember Us This Way’, Gaga became pensive.
“In recent years, this country has been very brave and has shown a lot of courage and a lot of pain,” she said. “We wish we could go back and change what happened, but I don’t want to forget your courage. I think the world is pretty special, even if it’s (expletive)-up too.”
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But she reserved her strongest commentary for a soaring take on “The Edge of Glory,” dedicating the song to “every woman in America who now has to worry about her body when she gets pregnant.” I pray this country will speak out. That we stick together and don’t stop until it’s RIGHT.”
Lady Gaga’s evolution was amazing to watch. Whether she’s dancing cheek to cheek with mentor Tony Bennett, ripping off an Italian accent on film, peeling back the showmanship for her Las Vegas jazz and piano show, or wrapping a massive stadium production with a mediocre ballad from today’s “Top Gun” (as she did with “Hold My Hand”), her ambitions still feel limitless.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lady Gaga US Chromatica Ball Tour: Singer Defends Gay Marriage, Abortion