Lady Gaga performed the penultimate show of her artRAVE tour in Newcastle on Saturday (22 November) and it entirely lived up to all pre-show hype. Gaga has been touted as a born performer, and this was extremely evident upon the night. She crafted a well-rounded show which highlighted the many facets of the persona she has created: she played the hits, showcased a multitude of costumes, and declared her love for the Little Monsters. What more could you want?
artRAVE was very much a look at the ARTPOP album. All 15 tracks were utilised and Gaga raved throughout them all: from the hippy-esque opener ‘ARTPOP’ (complete with spine-tingling ‘hee-hees’) and the lyrical mess that is ‘Venus’ to the heartfelt ‘Dope’ and the rocky ‘MANiCURE’. Each was performed with complete integrity and, as Gaga herself said midway through the concert, she is an authentic performer. She writes her own songs, produces them and sings live – even if you don’t like Gaga you have to give her props for that. She is in complete creative control.
Unlike her pervious tours, artRAVE had no synopsis; it was very much a look at her work. ARTPOP was panned by critics but it is extremely evident that Gaga is proud of this body of work. We were greeted with various costumes that have become synonymous with the tracks including the seashell bikini ensemble, a dress of tentacles and her raver outfit. Whilst most were bizarre, they each fit the tone of the songs performed and helped to authenticate the experience. Gaga is renown for her fashion. It HAS to be a part of her performance.
Gaga took a number of swipes at the people she hates. She told the audience that the artRAVE was going to showcase songs off ARTPOP – if people had come expecting just the hits then they should ‘get the fuck out of here’.
Elsewhere, during a stripped down version of ‘Born This Way’ in which Gaga expressed her love for the LGBT+community, Gaga stated that there were lots of LGBT+ people in the audience – if anyone had a problem with that then they should (you guessed it) ‘get the fuck out of here’. With her status as a true icon Gaga can afford to be so blunt. Whilst this attitude may have deterred others, here it didn’t deter at all. Gaga already has a loyal fanbase. This stance is also why she was able to produce the experimental album ARTPOP itself – she had the fans to buy the album, so she didn’t have to worry about commercial performance. She’s rather smart, really.
But Gaga did play a number of the hits. ‘G.U.Y.’ and ‘Just Dance’ were performed with choreography from their videos, and ‘Paparazzi’ ended with her collapsing on stage much like her infamous MTV performance in 2009. Elsewhere the stripped-down renditions of ‘Dope’, ‘You And I’ and ‘Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down’ highlighted how impeccable Gaga’s vocal is. She is very capable of singing live. ‘Bad Romance’, meanwhile, was sensational. Bedecked in rainbow dreadlocks, Gaga utilised the well-known choreography and gave a performance many had wanted. She was drowned out by the audience screeching the ‘ra-ras’ and the performance was entirely captivating. No Gaga tour would be complete without ‘Bad Romance’ – it is her ‘Thriller’.
Alas, my only downside of Gaga’s artRAVE was that ‘Scheiße’ and ‘Marry the Night’ weren’t included. Other than that artRAVE was everything that one had come to expect from Gaga and it helped to highlight several of the lesser-received tracks off of ARTPOP. Gaga was thrilling.