Is it really warranted that an artist come back to the same city three times on one tour? The fans of Lady Gaga in Montreal would scream “yes” a million times and they would not be wrong. If the ultimate review of a concert is the fan’s reaction then Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball tour is a huge success.
Lady Gaga brought her Monster Ball show to the Bell Centre for the third time. She opened the tour in November 2009 in Montreal and will end it shortly in the spring of 2011 in Mexico City. Over the course of the almost 20 months of the tour it has gone through several evolutions. And after hearing and reading about the first two shows, I can say with assurance that the changes have all been for the better.
The show that she performed here in 2009 is very different from the one the delirious fans were treated to last night. In the beginning the tour was set up to be a co-headlining gig with Kanye West. When he pulled out at the last moment Gaga decided to go on, but was left with having to come up with a full show in quick order. Though there were plenty of lights, choreography and piano playing it was not a huge show. A few months later the Haus of Gaga (her creative team) had revamped the whole show and made it huge due to backing kicked in by Virgin Mobile.
It was a complex five set show that came to Montreal for the third and final time on the Monster Ball tour. Described by the lady herself as a pop electro opera with its theme being New York and the growth Lady Gaga has undergone as an artist in a short period of time. Each section of the present show is set up behind the curtain that completely encompasses the stage. On the curtain a series of artsy mostly black and white photos of Gaga are projected with accompanying electronica music. Each time the curtain opens there is another set including a New York street with neon lights and a green Rolls Royce (that when she opened up the hood had an organ instead of an engine), a New York subway car, Central Park, a multi-armed monster that chased the star while she was on her way to the Monster Ball, and then finally a set that can only be dubbed as a modern day take on Metropolis. Kitschy and over-the-top? Yes! But eye candy and entertaining? You bet!
The theatricality of the show follows a path forged by her musical/style predecessor, Madonna. You can see plenty of Madge in this young gal from the bra and panty leather outfit to the constant choreography to the pacing of the show, lots of religious imagery (dressed up like a nun for “LoveGame”), and even the neon crucifixes that lit up during the second number.
While she cannot dance as well as Madonna and is definitely “weirder” how her show is superior hands down is the lady’s pipes. Lady Gaga can flat out sing. Helped by what was probably the best sound at the cavernous Bell Centre I had ever heard, Gaga showed the range and power of her voice on many an occasion. Whether she is at the piano doing a basically acoustic version of her recent smash, “Born This Way” or dancing around while powering through “Teeth” on the catwalk that jutted out into the standing room floor section her voice was clear, on pitch and strong. This is one young lady who never lip synchs, but is smart enough to let three backup singers do the heavy lifting while she is dancing.
In terms of creativeness the show is very forward thinking. It is less of a concert and more of a show with Gaga and her dancers getting lost on their way to the Monster Ball. The stage is immense and the sets are just as huge with trap doors (one that even sprung Gaga up into the air for her reentry mid song) that allow her to leave and bring goodies like grand pianos up onto the stage. Working like musical theatre, the show moves along briskly from one act to the next with the stage never really going dark. Each representing a stage in the evolution of the artist.
It was cool to see her incorporate two of her songs from the forthcoming “Born This Way” album (to be released this May) into the tour. Two versions of the title song and a piano (all aflame) version of “You and I” were performed during the two hour long show.
She is confident (wasn’t always as she told the crowd, but her fans have made her that way), campy, obviously talented, and never dull. With only two albums (Fame and The Fame Monster EP) under her belt it is obvious that the lady can construct a hit and, more importantly, make you care about it even after seeing her perform it numerous times.
It was after midnight when the near sell out crowd filed out of the Bell Centre. Like the performer we were exhausted and sweaty, but knew we had all seen something special.
(Countdown from 10 to 0)
Act I: City
Act II: Subway
Act III: Forest
Act IV: Monster Ball
- Born This Way
- Outro – Judas