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Five thoughts: Lady Gaga’s ‘Enigma’ launch at Park Theater (December 28)

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Lady Gaga, launching her Enigma residency at Park MGM on December 28.
Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Park MGM

1. There are few performers, if any, who scream “Vegas” more than Lady Gaga. She’s a perfectionist down to the smallest details, and her showmanship is unparalleled-—her vocals, the costuming, the dancing, the hits. The timing of her Enigma residency grand opening Friday night, just days before New Year’s Eve, was another quintessential Gaga move. And what better way to celebrate the birth of a new year than with an over-the-top, glittery spectacle in Las Vegas?

2. If there’s one word to describe Gaga’s entrance on Friday night, it’s extra. The singer opened with “Just Dance,” a symbolic selection—it was also her debut, her breakout track off 2008’s Fame and one of the best-selling singles of all time. Suspended in the air and flying into the theater on cables while dressed in a silver reflective jumpsuit with a keytar in hand, Gaga kicked off Enigma with serious zeal, and it only got crazier from there.

3. The sheer spectacle of Enigma was so grand it might have overshadowed any other performer. But Lady Gaga knows how to command a sold-out theater—she peppered her set with banter that made the audience feel included and seemed comfortable and at home on the Park Theater stage. The first chunk of her set stayed mostly focused on Fame, bringing us back to the early 2000s with throwbacks like “Poker Face” and “LoveGame” before the first set break, which introduces the audience to the concept of Enigma—a robot that sends Gaga through a future simulation that helps the star find her inner self.

4. Cheesy, weird and a little confusing at times, the Enigma concept grew a little tiresome after a while. Visual breaks depicted Gaga as an anime character traveling through a simulation that didn’t always make a lot of sense. But the stage and lighting design—with images projection-mapped onto cascading geometric structures, lasers and pyrotechnics—made up for the awkward storyline. At one point, Gaga returned to the stage in a giant, metal, Transformer-like monster, surrounded by red lights, fire and dancers. Her live band (which sounded absolutely brilliant inside the Park Theater), gave “Judas” an intense, industrial-metal treatment that might surprise regular Gaga fans, but it was easily one of the most interesting moments of the night. And it eventually segued into a brief cover of David Bowie and Nine Inch Nails’ “I’m Afraid of Americans.”

5. To be at the opening night of Lady Gaga’s residency was to witness a groundbreaking moment in Las Vegas’ already rich and star-studded history. Arguably the Strip’s biggest residency to date, Gaga’s Vegas arrival further establishes not just her own metamorphosis, but Las Vegas’, too. As she sat at her piano for the heartfelt Joanne cut “Million Reasons,” the audience was reminded of Gaga’s powerful vocal range and skillful piano playing—two things that have kept her unique among a sea of pop stars. Las Vegas, like Lady Gaga, has spent the last decade evolving into an even bigger and better version of itself. Beyond the pomp and circumstance, a residency in Vegas allows the world’s greatest entertainers to dive deeper into their creativity and deliver performances on a scale that can’t be replicated anywhere else. It’s what makes Las Vegas an enigma of its own—and Lady Gaga its rightful superstar.

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Leslie Ventura is a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly and Industry Weekly. She’s picked the brains of rock stars ...

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