It’s hard to know where to start to talk about seeing Lady Gaga’s ArtRAVE at Rod Laver Arena last Saturday, there are so many things to talk about! I guess I’ll start with my outfit. I thought it was fitting given that Gaga is renowned for having outrageous and unusual fashion to wear something outrageous and unusual to her concert. I mean I was never going to come close to her level of bizarre but it pushed boundaries for me, shown below.
I wore black tights, with green fishnets over them and then a pair of underpants as bloomers, a black long sleeved top with a pink fishnet top and black singlet on top of it, big black boots and a bum bag. I also wore black lipstick and rectangles of blue eyeshadow. I wore no pants on public transport. I admit I did have a long jacket over this outfit, but I still felt quite exposed.
The first thing I noticed when I arrived at Rod Laver Arena was that there were people, lots of people, who did not dress up. I had assumed, wrongly, that people who were fans of Gaga would be all over any excuse to dress up. That’s not to say there weren’t some amazing costumes going on, because there were, just that it was only about 20% of the crowd.
I was also struck, as I always am, by the number of people who don’t see the support act. In this instance it was a DJ called Lady Starlight. Her website says she’s a hard rock DJ, but in this performance she was making what I would call minimalist acid house music live with a selection of small electronic devices. I think I enjoyed it, but the music was largely beats and bass, there was very little melodically to get your teeth into. There were also no vocals, so I felt like I couldn’t quite get into the groove of it, although towards the end of the set I was starting to get the hang of it.
After Lady Starlight left the stage the houselights stayed dimmed when she came out at last, Lady Gaga was exactly what you would expect – she was wearing a fantastic outfit, complete with giant blue ball chest piece and wings. She went straight into Artpop, the title track of her new album. The setlist here shows a number of intermissions, these were where Gaga went off stage to change her costume. Part of me felt like the constant costume changes interrupted the flow of the performance, and I wonder if it might have seemed more fluid if she hadn’t had so many breaks, but then again, costuming is a big part of what she does so it would probably never happen.
I found Lady Gaga’s stage persona to be strangely bipolar – at one moment she was screaming at the crowd to “jump motherfuckers”, and then in the next song she would be cooing about how much she appreciated our support, about how she loved her fans, and how we all needed to embrace our own special and unique creative abilities. It might sound weird, but I felt like both of these extremes were genuine. I get the impression as a person, Lady Gaga would be an intense companion.
Performing the entire concert with a live microphone meant that there were times when Gaga’s voice was not as polished as it is on her records, but I felt much closer to her as a performer for it. The slow, soft ballads were brilliant at showcasing her beautiful voice, while the more energetic numbers got slightly more off course, which is to be expected, as she’s gets very active!
The experience was joyful, sensual, sexual, and visceral. I haven’t even mentioned the set design or the backup dancers, but as you might imagine they were spectacular. As a performer Lady Gaga gives it all, she doesn’t do anything by halves and it shows in her commitment to the show. Even people who aren’t fans of her music would have to admit that she certainly gives you your money’s worth!