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Lady Gaga delivers another overwhelming pop spectacle

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Go Gaga: You never know what might happen when Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta takes the stage.
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The Details

LADY GAGA
January 25, MGM Grand Garden Arena
Three stars

Lady Gaga provided a perfect metaphor for her own self-image early during her concert at the MGM Grand Garden Arena this past weekend. After the first couple of songs, she took the stage attached to a giant inflatable torso with the exaggerated features of a pregnant woman. As Gaga finished singing “Born This Way,” she disappeared from the top of the torso, only to reemerge from between the legs, symbolically giving birth to herself. Every aspect of the show made it clear that no matter how popular her songs may be, Gaga’s most prized creation is her own persona, the bizarrely dressed figure of inspiration for her army of Little Monsters.

And she had a lot to say to those Little Monsters, pausing numerous times to offer up empowering stories of her own origins, or to encourage people to be themselves, not care what others think, pursue their dreams, etc. At times it was like being at a self-help seminar punctuated by pop music, but Gaga’s fans, many of whom were in costume, clearly hung on her every word.

As for the music, it took a backseat not only to the message but also to the typically ornate, over-the-top stage production, which was built around a giant castle with multiple moving parts. Although the loose storyline (involving Gaga as some sort of alien invader) was pretty much incoherent, the costumes, staging and dance numbers were creative and striking, and Gaga easily kept pace with her dancers while also singing every note live (as she made sure to point out).

Unfortunately, her dedication to live singing meant that instead of lip-synching, she often just let the background vocals take over when she was out of breath, and in general the music was the least compelling part of the show. Gaga performed every song from 2011’s Born This Way (including the deluxe-edition bonus tracks), and the mediocre filler tracks still felt like mediocre filler tracks live. When she slowed down and focused on her singing during a comparatively bare-bones stretch of the show, Gaga demonstrated that her voice is easily as impressive as her aesthetic vision and community-building, even if she disappointingly treats it as an afterthought.

Set list:

“Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)”

“Government Hooker”

“Born This Way”

“Black Jesus † Amen Fashion”

“Bloody Mary”

“Bad Romance”

“Judas”

“Fashion of His Love”

“Just Dance”

“LoveGame”

“Telephone”

“Hair”

“Electric Chapel”

“Heavy Metal Lover”

“Bad Kids”

“Born This Way” (piano version)

“The Queen”

“You and I”

“Americano”

“Poker Face”

“Alejandro”

“Paparazzi”

“Scheisse”

Encore:

“The Edge of Glory”

“Marry the Night”

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