Lady Gaga brought sparkle and substance to last night’s Sprint Center performance

Lady Gaga

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Sprint Center

Ten years into her reign as one of the world’s biggest pop stars, Lady Gaga is a highly precise and supremely effective performer. Her massive set (both in scope and equipment) at the Sprint Center began last night promptly at 8:30, complete with a countdown clock positioned at the front of the stage letting fans know exactly when to expect her arrival. As the clock ticked down to under one minute, her fans erupted with approval, and this shower of affirmation and happiness continued unceasingly for almost exactly two hours. But perfectly timed and planned as it all was, it didn’t feel robotic. Stefani Germanotta is as purely talented as is advertised, but Lady Gaga is just as much, if not more, about how she makes her fans feel. And she made everyone who came to see her last night feel very, very good.   

Lady Gaga’s show was broken into what can best be described as segments, or acts, with entire costume and thematic changes occurring betweeen each. There seemed to be no overarching theme, save for the occasional appearance of Western-ish wear, in tribute to her most recent effort, Joanne. Most impressive of all, perhaps was her stage setup. A set of LCD-fronted mechanical risers on the main stage could be transformed into a seemingly endless variety of configurations, including tilted ramps and multiple tiered stages. Above the floor were three Twinkie-shaped lighting fixtures from which, surprisingly, bridges could be lowered that connected the main stage with three other platforms on the floor. There were lights and projectors absolutely everywhere. In the ever increasing arms race that is stage design for these massive, traveling productions, Lady Gaga and her team are clear winners. 

“We don’t just work on our talent,” noted Gaga. “We got tricks.” 

The set drew most heavily from Joanne but also paid heavy homage to Born This Way and The Fame, to the crowd’s delight. Lady Gaga’s more campy, surly personae that was a hallmark of her earlier career was in full display for most of the night. She prowled, growling at the audience to “get on your motherfucking feet,” and surrounded herself with similarly scantily clad or bare-chested (male) performers, who writhed and seethed around her.   

Despite the strong visual pull and head-pounding, goofy/pretty spectacle that came along with the huge club hits like “Poker Face,”  “Alejandro” and “Telephone,” the strongest performances of the night were from Joanne. Before her affirming performance of “Come to Mama,” done at the piano in the rear of the arena, Gaga pulled out a rainbow flag and offered tribute to the LGBTQA community, allies, equality and inclusivity. 

“We’ve all got to love each other … not that long ago, we were all just livin’ in the jungle.” The song echoed these sentiments: So why do we gotta tell each other how to live?
/ The only prisons that exist are ones we put each other in
.

The title track to Joanne was perhaps the most resonant song of the evening. Gaga explained its origins, which hearken back to her deceased aunt of the same name, who died of lupus at age 19. (Gaga recently made her own health struggle, with fibromyalgia, known through the Netflix documentary Five Foot Two.) She asked the audience to take the song as tribute to pain they have experienced — and, judging by the amount of tears I saw on audience members’ faces, they did. Even more tears came shortly after this when she read a thank-you note from a fan who indicated that she struggled with depression but was able to get going as of late knowing she would get to see her favorite artist. Gaga left the stage to hug this fan, and the audience cooed its approval. 

Gaga and her dancers turned the camp back up for thunderous performances of “Bad Romance” and “The Cure,” making one last good use of the bridges and ramps on the floor of the stadium, giving all members of the audience one more close look at their hero. 

The final song of the evening, “Million Reasons,” served as an ideal closer. Gaga’s striking voice soared beautifully as a thousand cell phones lit up the arena. She told the audience she loved them, and there was no doubt that they loved her more. 

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Setlist 

Act I

Diamond Heart

A-Yo

Poker Face

Perfect Illusion

Act II

Car Film

John Wayne

Scheiße

Alejandro

Act III

Rhino

Just Dance

LoveGame

Telephone

Act IV

Come to Mama

The Edge of Glory

Born This Way

Act V

Bloody Mary

Dancin’ In Circles

Paparazzi

Ambulance

Act VI

Angel Down

Joanne

Act VII

Bad Romance

The Cure

Encore

Million Reasons

Categories: Music