March 16, 2010
Live review: Lady Gaga/Alphabeat/Semi Precious Weapons
O2 Arena, London, Saturday February 27
After dropping nearly a million on redesigning her stage show (she got ‘bored’ with it), the none-more-OTT first Lady Of Crazy is in town. It’s not the set, costumes or dances we’ll remember tonight, though. It’s the look in her eyes.
Never mind that she’s currently the poster girl for all kinds of nu-feminist waffle, or the endless arguments as to why she’s the pinnacle/nadir of modern pop culture, why she’s brave and shocking/conservative and lame. What’s important is that Gaga wants it like nobody else ever has; that’s her manifesto. She sings like the Titanic is about to sink, she holds poses longer than any of her dancers, and she makes London her own.
Faced with the unenviable task of warming up her stage are shock glam-rockers Semi Precious Weapons. Fiery-bosom mates of the lady herself, and first signings to her Haus Of Gaga label, they’re all glitter and gusto. Following up are Alphabeat, who try hard and are terribly polite, but, really Alphabeat, fuck off, we want Gaga.
The show has a loose Wizard Of Oz theme, with four acts: City, Subway, Forest and Monster Ball. It’s all a bit ‘conceptual’. The Ball is a state of mind, man. It’s Gaga’s warped Sesame Street Shangri-La: “A place where all the freaks are outside, and we lock the fucking doors.” In reality, of course, there are very few ‘freaks’ here – it’s mainly gangs of friends, and parents with their underage children.
If the theories don’t quite hold up, though, the stagecraft is faultless. As Gaga and her pals gather around a broken-down car, there’s a snippet of a new song, ‘Glitter And Grease’, where Gaga opens the bonnet to reveal a piano – no wonder the engine wouldn’t start! Carpiano™ plays ‘Just Dance’ as the set begins to change. And change. And change. It’s a conveyor belt of ZOMGs, each outlandish scene outdoing the one that came before it.
No spectacle can outdazzle the naked will of Gaga, though; when she bares her gnashers during ‘Teeth’, it’s with a vicious sexuality that would eat up feminist theorisers like Natasha Walter for breakfast. She wants your loving and she wants your revenge. And you know what? She can have it too.
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