Lady Gaga live at Twickenham Stadium (9 Sept '12) // Words: Rajan Lakhani
When I walked into work and said I’d been to see Lady Gaga at Twickenham, the reaction was mainly ‘she’s mad’. Given the supposed storyline of the concert, it was very difficult to argue against this. From what I could work out, Lady Gaga is an alien which has escaped from her mother planet, the Government Owned Alien Planet (GOAT) to take in the art, culture and music of the various nations on Earth to form a new race. Make sense? No, me neither.
But this half-baked concept isn’t what the concert should be judged on. It’s about the entertainment, showmanship and ultimately, the songs and Gaga has all this in spades. Her voice is even more impressive given the complex and surely exhausting dance routines. She commands the audience and dominates the castle-shaped stage with a confidence and poise that I’ve rarely seen in all the gigs I’ve attended.
With so many children in attendance, you would have thought Gaga might have thought about toning down the act but this is quickly dispelled by the raunchy routines with her dancers from the start and her cry to the audience of "Get your pussies off the floor".
The concert is littered with tongue-in-cheek comments, demonstrating Gaga doesn’t take herself as seriously as perhaps the critics would believe. Deep down, you know she sees this very much as a show, two and a half hours or so of escapism for her audience. This is reinforced by her comments that the party can still go after the concert, even it means a hangover on the Monday!
The highlight for me was 'Judas', followed by 'Bad Romance'. It felt apt for two songs to be played consecutively as feel like musical cousins with their similar intros. Over the course of the concert, it becomes apparent how much she has grown as an artist with her earlier songs such as 'Just Dance' seeming a little slight in comparison to full-blown pop epics such as 'Edge Of Glory'.
Unsurprisingly, she slows things down around two-thirds of the way into the concert, which sees Gaga at her most goofy and is all the more endearing for it. Reminding the crowd of her apprenticeship in New York bars, she plays a handful of songs on the piano and converses with the crowd.
The only downside is the cloying 'Princess Die', an ode to Princess Diana. Despite its shortcomings, the song is representative of Gaga’s integration of popular culture touchstones into her act, whether it’s the sci-fi bombast of 'Alien' and 'Star Trek' or the musical styles of Springsteen, Whitney, Madonna and Bowie. And like the latter, Gaga is a magpie, not ashamed to take ideas from other artists and reinterpret them.
Whatever her motives, it is difficult to question is her relationship with her ‘Little Monsters’, which is beyond the levels of adulation for large swathes of the crowd. In return, there is no doubt about her love for her fans. No pop star has done more to embrace the freaks/outsiders/weirdos and even to the most hardened cynic, it must be genuinely heartening that these kids have got someone a pop star of such standing routing for them, bringing their issues to a wider audience. To demonstrate this relationship, she gets a few of her fans towards the end of the concert to join her on stage to perform 'Scheiße'.
Lady Gaga is the right pop star for our times, a contradiction that while pushing the boundaries, is not afraid to betray a traditional outlook, for example not singing ‘no religion too’ in her cover of John Lennon’s 'Imagine'. While at times Gaga’s spiel bordered on a self-help conference, there is no doubt the concert was a triumph, borne out by the overwhelmingly glowing reaction of the 55,000-strong audience. Having made such a significant impact already, the scary thing is you feel she is just getting started.
Find more info at ladygaga.com.