One Nation Under Gaud -- that was Lady Gaga's declaration ofindependence as her Monster Ball Tour re-opened in a packed MontrealBell Centre on Monday night.
In an exuberant two-hour-plus trip through her re-imagined Wizard of Oz narrative, the crowd goggled and shrieked to a flamingpiano, a bleeding, burning Angel,underwear sparklers, a dozen dancers, bracing clubland beats, slashesof metalloid guitar, and more hydraulics than a NASA launch; there were multi-level stage platforms, a walkway riser, scrims, video screens,monsters -- even a headpiece that fanned out robotically asa canary-haired Gaga belted "So Happy I Could Die."
Well over 17,000 "little Monsters" raved the night away through adisco passion play in Four Acts, moving from City to Subway to Forestto the terminus, the Monster Ball. In relative lightning time, LadyGaga has vaulted to major-league status, staging a comprehensive andconvincing arena tour, misbehaving in ballparks, and establishingherself as pop's new, necessary disco villainess.
Lady Gaga is the new diva of duality. Half shuddering clubanthems, half gushing self-affirmation at the piano, the showceaselessly fronted her LBGT identity politics and 57 versions of"believe in yourself." She was engagingly crass and irrepressibly half-naked.
The set worked as pure stagecraft, though. During "Telephone," she borrowed a Bono move by giving props to Virgin Mobile fordonating to homeless youth, then used her cell to call a girl in thecrowd for a moment of believe-in-yourself intimacy for17,000. Yelping young Josephine got a speech about loving herself asa lesbian, and was rewarded with a better seat in the venue. Cue theScreens and Screeds, as Gaga kept in hyper-motion from lurid visualsto proclamations of personal liberation.
And as anyone who caught her knickers-and-piano act a short time ago in Rockwood Music Hall will testify, the girl can bothsing and project. In the Jerry Lee Lewis finale to "Brown Eyes,"stamping the keys with a stilettoed heel and cursing the "selfishmotherfucker" who broke her heart, she flexed both theatrical androck'n'roll chops, making her legit in a way Madge never was.
Coylyself-aggrandizing, she premiered -- and repeatedly interrupted -- newsong "You And I," a torcher she reminded us she'd played on the down-low at "Elton's party," declaring she didn't care if none of the fansshe loved ever bought the song because she knew the only thing thatmattered to them was "how punk-rock you feel when you wake up in themorning."
Amen. As the show pumped to the finale, shedelivered a rousing, bassy "Pokerface," with fans jumping and screamingas demanded.
A 20-foot Viperfish monster -- why not? -- wrapped itstentacles around her for "Bad Romance," as undeniable acloser as any act can offer in 2010.
"Do you know what I hate more than money?" she'd asked the crowd. "Ihate the truth!" Not sure which, if either, was true, but as yetanother dangerous garment was whisked away, she had both taken, andpulled most of it off.
Dance in the Dark
Glitter and Grease
Beautiful, Dirty, Rich
Boys, Boys, Boys
You And I
So Happy I Could Die