Published On: Thu, Jul 28th, 2022

Lady Gaga Review Paris Concert A Star Is Born Music Pop Chromatica | Music | Entertainment

Under the open-air ceiling of the Stade de France, I finish bejeweling my friend’s face with cheap stick-on gems in every colour of the rainbow, before passing the rest of the pack to a family of four that are eagerly eying the process with glee. It’s a welcome distraction from the sweltering heat that fatigues the crowd, most of whom have been waiting well over two hours to finally see the legendary Lady Gaga in the flesh.

Moments later, 76,000 fans are screaming, bouncing, and whooping in unison – with ‘rah rahs’ and ‘ooh la las’ rip-roaring through the crowd. To say that Lady Gaga started with a bang would be an understatement; instead she gives a one-two sucker punch of pure pop perfection. Opening the show with Bad Romance followed by Just Dance, the two most popular tracks from The Fame Monster and The Fame respectively, is a smart choice to reassure her Little Monsters that Gaga is bringing the party to Paris. But what happens in the next two hours could be described as another career defining move for the international pop superstar.

The Chromatica Ball tour promised to be a feast of party anthems following her sixth studio album: Chromatica. Released at the height of lockdown ennui in May 2020, Gaga gives fans a series of electrifying pop and dance numbers reminiscent of the ones that propelled her to international fame back in 2008 – this time with heavy 90s electronic influences. House and techno dominate the record with splashes of maximalist production techniques that successfully pleases her most dedicated fans, and now the time has come to celebrate after the tour was postponed last year.

Lady Gaga, much like Madonna before her, reinvents her sound and image with each album. Her forays into country-pop (Joanne) and her collaboration with jazz and big band veteran Tony Bennett (Cheek to Cheek) were met with varying levels of critical and commercial success. Following these were the exceptionally popular and more traditional folk singer/songwriter tracks that appeared in the 2018 film A Star Is Born alongside Bradley Cooper – a remake of the 1976 movie starring Barbra Streisand.

After the more mellow music released in the second half of her career, Gaga returns to the stage with an explosion of energy. Performing to the largest crowd of her entire career, the Ball (not a tour) features pulsating dance pop accompanied by angular choreography and high-fashion costumes reminiscent of Grace Jones or Klaus Nomi. The tone of this first act is reinforced by the brutalist stage architecture and heavy monochromatic lighting; but there are many surprises along the way.

The Chromatica Ball itself is split into five ‘acts’ with interludes of abstract videos allowing the audience, and no doubt Gaga herself, to catch their breath. However, the show can arguably be described cleanly in three distinct sections. Firstly, catchy power-pop anthems like Poker Face, Monster, and Replay from Gaga’s more upbeat eras dominate. Distinct choreography for many tracks (911, Sour Candy) is even more impressive considering her ongoing battle with the chronic condition fibromyalgia, but this struggle is never present in her two hour set. Gaga relentlessly throws herself around the massive stage, either solo or accompanied by an army of fabulous femme dancers lit up in vibrant pinks and golds.

The energy never dissipates, but after Born This Way unites the stadium in a flood of emotion, what follows is a lengthy and intimate second section at the piano – which she begins in true Gaga style by dressing as a giant pink alien insectoid. Interestingly, the aesthetic of her third studio album Artpop features throughout the concert in spirit, but none of the songs make an appearance. As she strips away the otherworldly costumes to reveal her true form in slicked back hair (harkening back to her time as the Countess on American Horror Story) she slows down some of her more upbeat songs (Edge of Glory, 1000 Doves) in a refreshing change of tempo.

Within an already smash-hit filled show, there are many notable highlights. Before the vogue-inspired strutting of Babylon, Gaga exclaims that ‘Paris is Burning tonight’. Not only referencing the legendary New York ball scene documentary that inspired the tour and her queer fans around the world, it’s also serving as a reminder that the pyrotechnics, summer heat, and packed stadium are making things red hot in the best way.

I’ll Always Remember Us This Way is another defining moment, as Gaga invites the fans to help her sing the graceful ballad, and the voices ring through the stadium en masse. This comes just before the surprise of the night for me – the understated mid-tempo number Enigma sounds especially fresh tonight, and manages to reinvigorate the stadium thanks to an extended dance section that propels us towards the finale.

Gaga ends the Chromatica Ball with her finer pop tracks in recent years as the crowd erupts in a blaze of pyromania for Stupid Love and Rain on Me in quick succession – tears and sweat streaming down our faces in pure ecstasy as she exits the stage. As the crowd chants for more Gaga in various degrees of unison, she returns to close the show with Hold My Hand, her newest power ballad that features on the Top Gun: Maverick soundtrack starring Tom Cruise.

In my opinion, Hold My Hand does not feel like the correct closing choice for a set that feels like a party for her most dedicated fans. Despite this, as we make our way out of the stadium, a post-encore features Gaga walking out onto the stage with just a robotic claw up, a simple gesture that reminds Little Monsters to never back down: ‘Just put your paws up, cause you were born this way, baby.’

After filling the Super Bowl stadium with generation defining performances, twice, we knew that Gaga could sing and entertain a major crowd with aplomb. But to maintain this energy with studio-ready vocals throughout a lengthy show, featuring on stage costume changes and heavily intricate group choreography, Lady Gaga has cemented her status as one of the greatest performers of our time.

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