Welcome To The Church Of Gaga


Take a Madonna concert, a Bowie concert, a Prince concert and even possibly a Britney Spears concert (circa 2001), mash ’em all up, and whaddya got? The Monsters Ball concert, shown Saturday night on HBO.

The Madonna element was dominant. Hyper sexy costumes on both male and female dancers, a good deal of vogueing. Lots of leather and vinyl and latex. Homosexicals kissing and fondling each other. Strong dancing and choreography. Striking fashion and frequent audience interaction. Near nudity. Childhood issues being worked out on stage.

The Bowie element was pronounced in all the psychodrama being played out on stage. Miss Stefanie is kind of oversharey, but then again, aren’t we all, these days? She did a great job whipping up the crowd and then bringing them down again, just like Bowie would. She certainly knows how to hold the crowd and work their emotions.

The Prince element comes not just from the crazy cone-shaped key-tar that was played during one number, but also the Minneapolis sound from some of the synthesizers during some of the songs. Also, similar to Prince, Gaga plays instruments. A lot of them. Casually. “Oh, just thought I’d pick up this sequencer/bass guitar/drum machine that just popped up out of the floor. See how easy it is to work all three instruments at the same time?”

The Britney influence? Not only was the dancing strong, there was a hell of a lot of it. And although Miss Germanotta swears during the performance that she did not lipsync, um, well. There were several key shots in the concert showing her mouth closed as her voice came over the speakers. Granted, she did have a pre-recorded “backing track” where she sang against her own voice (a technique I am fond of).

And there were plenty of points in the show when she sat and played piano or stood still, and I’m sure that there was live singing at those times. But, honey. Come on. No one can run up and down flights of stairs, shake a frantic boogaloo for five minutes flat, jump up and down, do an insane version of the super squats, and simultaneously deliver a pitch-perfect vocal performance. Just can’t happen. If a performer is going to deliver that kind of fever-pitch dance, I wouldn’t expect them to be able to sing. So let’s just drop the pretense, shall we?

Overall, the show had the feeling of a church revival. Lots of “break ’em down to build ’em up” homilies, lots of “you’re all wonderful beautiful beings of light and love” type statements. I’m sure that were I much, much younger I would be drinking this up and begging for more.

There are plenty of surprises in the show, which won’t be discussed here. If you get an opportunity to see it, do so. I give it four out of five purple glitter unicorns.

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