Last night in Boston, at a venue traditionally reserved for Broadway shows like The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables, Lady Gaga opened the American leg of her highly anticipated The Monster Ball tour. The choice of locale couldn't have been arbitrary. Throughout the evening, Gaga — a.k.a. Stefani Germanotta, a.k.a. Tinker Bell (more on this later) — aimed for a kind of pop theatricality that might potentially cement her burgeoning status as "performance artist."
The pre-show scene outside Citi Performing Arts Center was all blonde-wig-wearing Lady Gaga imitators, face glitter, oversized shades, and the occasional light-up replica of that "disco stick" scepter featured in Gaga's "LoveGame" video. Inside, the same crowd looked out of place amongst the venue's marble columns, wide staircases and elegant opera house chandeliers.
At 9:15, following sets by Semi Precious Weapons and Kid Cudi, Gaga took the stage behind a giant, black-and-green scrim and proclaimed, "I'm a free bitch, baby" — the first of several moments during her performance that gave parents in the audience consternation. (Latter instances included crotch-grabbing during "Teeth," a simulated three-way during "Alejandro," and Gaga smoking a cigarette onstage between songs.)
Soon, the scrim — which resembled an electric math grid — lifted to reveal Gaga, solo, singing "Dance in the Dark" and wearing a sparkling, silver leotard. Smoke filled the floor as Chippendale-esque background dancers joined her, and the concert's general formula was set. Two main variables existed during the night. One, of course, was Gaga's wildly over-the-top wardrobe. Clothed by her own design team, Haus of Gaga, the Lady went from rhinestone-keyboard-carrying Flock-of-Seagulls member ("Just Dance") to 300-style golden headdress warrior ("Fashion") to '80s corporate maven with huge shoulder pads ("Eh, Eh").
Video screens lining the back of the stage were another shifting element, serving as sound-generated screensavers for the song in question. Sometimes just flashes of color (a la the iTunes Visualizer function) served as a backdrop for Gaga's dance moves, while other times images were matched up with specific songs (like a close-up of a bird's wing for "Monster"). In between songs — when Gaga was busy with her elaborate costume changes — the screens displayed arty poses of the singer looking like a Goth version of Twiggy. Following Gaga's performance of "Bad Romance," which featured many of the twitchy dance moves from her music video, the evening ended with an almost painful-to-watch video of Gaga getting a heart-shaped tattoo on her shoulder, blood and all.
Gaga opened up as the show progressed, both in terms of instrumentation (she ditched the beats for live piano, guitar, drums, and keyboard on "Speechless," as well as a nearly unrecognizable blues version of "Poker Face") and stage banter. At one point, she asked the audience whether they thought she was sexy. When fans screamed their approval, she casually joked, "I don't believe you," before issuing the following dictum — perhaps an insight into her current meteoric rise: "I'm kind of like Tinker Bell," she explained in a tiny, childlike voice. "See, if you don't clap for Tinker Bell, she dies!" Given the deafening ovation after the packed show, it seems Tinker Bell is safe for now.Set List:
"Dance in the Dark"
"So Happy I Could Die"
"Beautiful, Dirty, Rich"
"Boys Boys Boys"
"Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)"