Lady Gaga Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam
Touring in Britain from Wed to Feb 8
On an icy night in Holland, everyone is wearing six layers, except one diminutive New Yorker, who is clad only in black underwear, surrounded by topless men. Welcome to Lady Gaga’s world.
In the studio, the artist formerly known as Stefani Germanotta has become more thoughtful, devoting her latest album, Joanne, to the aunt she never knew who wrote poems and died aged 19. On stage, though, it’s showbusiness as usual.
Gaga starts off in a stetson and leotard, strutting her stuff in a cloud of purple smoke. You’d never know that she had to postpone this tour because of a bad back.
She lays on both an eye-popping spectacle and a fashion show, which involves being alternately underdressed and over the top. One outfit, scarlet and voluminous, is halfway between a ball gown and a bouncy castle.
Lady Gaga lays on both an eye-popping spectacle and a fashion show, which involves being alternately underdressed and over the top
The stage can’t stand still, rising and falling in five sections. The lights sit in flowery zeppelins, floating above the audience and descending to act as bridges to the B stage. And then, Gaga being Gaga, to the C and D stages too.
The show comprises seven acts, punctuated by costume changes, and even the quiet section, when Gaga settles at the piano, has been sexed up.
Her baby grand, which is see-through, emits rainbow lasers in time with her keystrokes. Now more than ever, she’s a killer queen, dynamite with a laser beam.
She’s also a preacher. Tonight’s sermon is about feeling different from everyone else, how anyone who feels that way too is welcome here, and tolerance will beat the bullies.
The message is admirable, but in a city like Amsterdam it’s pushing at an open door; more minds might be changed if she were to take the translucent piano to the backwoods.
And the music? Oh yes, there is some. The oldies – Poker Face, Paparazzi, Bad Romance, Born This Way –are still golden.
Her Artpop album is wisely neglected, while the songs from Joanne are a mixed bag: Come To Mama makes a rousing singalong, Million Reasons a warming finale, but seven other tracks get rather lost in all the razzmatazz.
The evening is a monument to the skills of Tait Towers, the staging wizards behind the biggest tours.
If Boris Johnson is serious about a Channel bridge, he should give Tait a call. They’ll have it built in six months, and the lasers will be spectacular.
THIS WEEK’S CD RELEASES
By Adam Woods
Shame Songs Of Praise Dead Oceans, out now
Shame’s dark, guitar rock debut album tackles doomed love and Britain’s immigration policy. Their sound gleams and pummels, evoking the post-punk minimalism of Wire and the poetic belligerence of The Fall. Clearly a band to watch
Nick J D Hodgson Tell your friends Prediction, out now
After leaving Kaiser Chiefs in 2012, Hodgson finally steps out front with a self performed album of lushly simple songs that are hummable and uplifting. Here he sings about the personal and the internal through a cheery Seventies filter
Calexico The Thread That Keeps Us City Slang, out now
Calexico are masters of their own style – a cinematic, Tex-Mex-inflected, desert Americana. They recorded this on the California coast, and here it’s as if the ocean has snuck into the sound of songs like Voices In The Field and Bridge To Nowhere
Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa Black Coffee Provogue, out now
Hardworking blues-rock guitar man Joe Bonamassa has a voice of his own, but he leaves the singing to Beth Hart. This picks a varied set from the heavy R&B of Humble Pie’s title track to Lucinda Williams’s stomping Joy via gospel-R&B knees-up Saved