By Neil Durham
WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHEN?: Friday 29 July 2022, tour runs until 17 September 2022
SETLIST: Bad Romance; Just Dance; Poker Face; Alice; Replay; Monster; 911; Sour Candy; Telephone; LoveGame; Babylon; Free Woman; Born This Way; Shallow; Always Remember Us This Way; The Edge Of Glory; 1000 Doves; Fun Tonight; Enigma; Stupid Love; Rain On Me; Hold My Hand
We’re on the pitch for Lady Gaga’s 1st UK concert in 7 years and she immediately breaks the Pet Shop Boys’ golden rule of touring by opening with the 1st 3 of her 6 UK number ones.
- Read on for reasons including how Lady Gaga walked through the crowd to dazzle on a mid-arena satellite stage
During Bad Romance she’s performing confined within what appears to be a straightjacket-like box and the black and white video projections give the appearance of a Hollywood B-movie.
The last time Gaga played in the capital it was at the Royal Albert Hall with Tony Bennett and part of the reason she’s not played since is that poor health meant her 2018 Joanne tour was cancelled shortly before it was scheduled to arrive in London.
So the atmosphere was perhaps unsurprisingly electric during this show and the good news is it’s far more entertaining and engaging than when we last saw Lady Gaga perform in a stadium at Twickenham for the Born This Way Ball a decade ago.
We 1st saw her at the Monster Ball Tour at The 02 in 2010 and the thing that singled her out as a talent in the league of performers like Elton John was the fact that she could sit behind a piano alone and enchant an arena.
She’s still performing the elaborate dance routines with her troup but this tour appears to have been designed to cope with the demands of the star’s fibromyalgia with slightly longer than expected gaps between the performance sections here.
The best bit is when she leaves the main stage during Free Woman to walk through the crowd to a satellite stage in the middle of the arena where she can sit behind a keyboard which appears to have been fashioned from a tree (picture below).
We’re not big fans of stadium gigs but this move puts her right in the heart of the crowd and it’s where she plays Born This Way, the single that explained perhaps like no other by anyone ever what an LGBTQIA ally she had become.
It’s a moving moment for a crowd which in many cases quite visibly is living the queer life and to see the object of their affection reflect that back to them is the highpoint of tonight’s show.
It’s followed by an astonishing rendition of Shallow from her Oscar-nominated turn in A Star Is Born where the strength of her vocal is unquestionable.
She talks a little about how important it is for her to be here and how her most recent album Chromatica was written for her friends to dance to.
Penultimate song and charttopper Rain On Me is a reminder that she can still boss a dancefloor at the top of her game while show closer Hold My Hand from Top Gun: Maverick is the sound of her proving she can be as thrillingly mainstream as any pop star.
Hard to know what’s next for her – although an appearance in a Joker sequel is rumoured – but it’s a real thrill to see her back on a UK stadium stage after so long away.