“Young wild American, looking to be something……”, these lyrics and 5 white-hot spotlights revealed a spectacle of a singer adorned with a bedazzled rose cowboy hat and black leather fringe ensemble. She is beauty, grace, talent, power, and success. She is Joanne, Stephanie Germonatta: Lady Gaga.
As the second night of Gaga’s “Joanne World Tour” stop at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania began, it was clear the concert would be everything but predictable (much like how she unexpectedly jumped off the roof to begin her jaw-dropping Superbowl Halftime show performance a few months prior).
Coming onstage to begin the festivities at 9pm was a risky move considering there was no opening act. The doors opened at 6:30pm and the entire floor-seating arena was general admission, meaning the audience had to stand from the time they entered until the time the show concluded. Ten minutes before she appeared, a countdown clock began on the front stage, proving that no matter how long the wait, the audience would remain wrapped around Gaga’s freshly manicured finger.
The fans, or rather, “Little Monsters”, are presumably the most free-spirited and diverse group of people to ever gather in one place for a show. On the right, a father and his ten year-old daughter. On the left, three female new college graduates. In front, a brother and sister. Behind, a couple in their 50’s who had been “dying to see Gaga for so long”, as the husband surprised his mega-fan wife with a pair of tickets the night before.
The aura was electric, mostly from Gaga, but also from her costumes (of course), visuals (fireworks, fire, and moving platforms, oh my!), and elaborate stage design that featured not one, but four stages, allowing her to literally walk from the front of the floor to the back. As the crowd screamed, cried, and adored her, Gaga absorbed every single person’s energy and spit it back out. She provided an even mix of her old and new material, complete with intense choreographed dances, killer vocals (such as when she did a breathtaking acoustic piano version of her hit, “Edge of Glory”) and never one noticeable sign of tiredness.
Although, as her new Netflix documentary, “Gaga Five Foot Two” uncovers, she deals with intense body pain daily, as a result of previous hip surgery from 2012 and a fibromyalgia diagnosis. Maybe the fact that she’s been performing in the business for over 10 years is what keeps the 30-year-old superstar moving and delivering like she’s still in her young 20’s. Every time she struggles, she gets back up again by stomping a bedazzled knee-high boot to the ground and slowly raising herself into a new dimension of infamy.
The last time Gaga performed at this same venue was during her last tour three years ago, in 2014, to promote her “Artpop” album. That era of Gaga was all about artistic expressions, flaunting bizarre outfits, vibrant and bright colors, and very promiscuous songs; all in an attempt to orchestrate the atmosphere of a rave. With Joanne, just like the album, the antics are stripped back so much, that it’s difficult to place this version of Gaga into a category. She’s always been pop, but with singles from the new album such as “John Wayne” and “A-YO”, a country twang is also introduced. Although, she’s never been confined to labels, so she more than likely isn’t intending to start now.
It’s impossible to predict what her next tour, album, or single will be like, but that’s exactly what makes her the queen of pop music.