Live Review: The Monster Ball Tour starring Lady Gaga at the Verizon Center, Washington, DC – 6th September 2010

By on Monday, 13th September 2010 at 2:00 pm

Lady Gaga is a rock star, an enigma, a cultural phenomenon and a chameleon. She’s also an incredibly talented musician and performer, and her concerts are said to be spectacular, even life-changing. And I imagine that the Washington, DC, stop on the Monster Ball Tour would have been, had I actually been able to see anything. As a devoted Gaga fan (or “little monster,” as she calls them), months ago I braved and shelled out nearly $75 (about 50 quid) for what was quite possibly the worst seat in the history of mankind. It was so far up I was almost worried if I stood up I’d get a nosebleed or fall down hundreds of feet to my death. And I was directly to the side of the stage, so half of the view was obstructed by scaffolding for the lights. The large screens, usually the saving grace for unfortunately-seated punters like myself, weren’t even visible, as I was directly side-on to them as well. It was frustrating, to say the least.

Equally frustrating was opener Semi Precious Weapons, although perhaps I should be happy my view of THEM was limited. They are vying for the top spot on my list of opening acts I’ve liked the least, and I’ve seen some bad ones. To begin with, despite provocative fashion choices like vocalist Justin Tranter wearing tights and heels (perhaps the only thing I liked about the band), their music had nothing in common with Gaga’s. The only reason for them being on the tour seems to be that they’re old friends of Gaga’s, a fact they mentioned at least every 2 songs — on a couple of occasions they even had the crowd chant her name.

Despite their use of over-exaggerated flailing, they still didn’t muster enough stage presence to fill the massive stage. In fact, everything about them came off as posing.  Aspiring rock stars, please note: constantly informing the audience  just how rock ‘n’ roll you are is NOT rock ‘n’ roll. When he wasn’t assaulting our ears with what was closer to shouting than singing, Tranter managed to drop the F-bomb so much you’d think he had Tourette’s, and called the mostly-female audience sluts on more than one occasion. At one point he shouted “Don’t hate Semi Precious Weapons, thank us for exposing your children to real rock ‘n’ roll” — no thanks, I’ll be taking option A.

Despite all my complaining, however, Lady Gaga did put on an incredible show, and the majority of the audience was well into it. Even from my limited view, her costumes, props and set pieces were over-the-top and extraordinary. There was a car with a keyboard under the hood, a subway car, a cone-shaped set of screens which simulated a tornado (surrounding Gaga and allowing her to change costumes), and even a circular platform that raised up something like 50 feet in the air. Of her costumes that I could actually see, there was a flowing white ethereal gown complete with wings, and a bra and pants equipped with pyro. The inspirations were as diverse as they were manic, creating daydreams of Star Wars and Bowie. There was such a startling change in aesthetic from costume to costume that she was almost completely unrecognisable. She was bound by lace corsets like those of the infamous kinky brand Agent Provocateur one minute, and looking like a giant dildo the next. All of these props and costumes tie into an overall storyline where she and her friends get stranded several times on their way to “the Monster Ball.” With her level of talent, however, it’s superfluous, not to mention the narration is hard to understand in large, echo-y arenas.

As much as I love her fashion and her theatricality, what really draws me to Lady Gaga is her music, so being able to hear the songs loud and clear was quite a consolation — I was beginning to worry I’d be treated to complete sensory deprivation. In today’s music industry, auto-tune and lipsyncing are the norm for female pop stars, but Gaga ALWAYS sings live, even when the effort of belting out her hits while dancing just as hard as her backup dancers causes her to pant heavily into the microphone between songs. All of the songs she sang (see the setlist below) sounded just as good live as on the record, and the ones where she actually sat down at the piano sounded even better.

Her rendition of ‘Speechless,’ which she dedicated to those in the crowd fighting for LGBTQI rights, was so powerful it was breathtaking, and was interspersed with her sharing her thoughts on equality (or, more accurately, her anger about INequality). The ballad is one of my favorite songs by her, so it was unfortunate that from my seat the piano and Gaga were completely obscured by scaffolding. The other song she played at the piano was the new ‘You and I,’ which will most likely be on her next album — full-on epic piano rock. She ended her seventeen song set with a string of four of her biggest hits: ‘Alejandro,’ ‘Pokerface,’ ‘Paparazzi’ and ‘Bad Romance.’ The entire crowd was standing up, dancing and singing along at this point, making me finally feel like I was really involved in the show.

For someone as hugely popular and famous as Lady Gaga, she places a surprisingly large focus on her fans’ well-being, creating the Monster Ball as a place where fans can be themselves. She said “the freaks are outside tonight, I’ve locked the doors” and frequently reminded the audience “you were born that way!” During ‘Monster,’ she even stopped the music to break up a fight between two girls in the pit, scolding them by saying “you do NOT fight at this show” and then making sure they were both okay. But at the same time, her fans get sold merchandise and sometimes horrible tickets at shockingly high prices. As somebody who is as dedicated to her fans as Gaga is, she really needs encourage the companies promoting her to strike a balance between taking care of the fans and taking advantage of the fans. But as an artist? Flawless.

Lady Gaga Set List?

Dance in the Dark
Glitter and Grease
Just Dance
Beautiful, Dirty, Rich
The Fame
Boys Boys Boys
You and I
So Happy I Could Die
Bad Romance

Tags: , , , , , ,

Leave Your Response

* Name, Email, Comment are Required

About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

All MP3s are posted with the permission of the artists or their representatives and are for sampling only. Like the music? Buy it.

RSS Feed   RSS Feed  

Learn More About Us

Privacy Policy

Keep TGTF online for years to come!
Donate here.