Lady Gaga Talks It Up at the American Airlines Arena, April 13

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Photo by Sayre Berman
The Mother Monster rallying her spawn.
See the full Lady Gaga at the American Airlines Arena slideshow.

Lady Gaga
With Semi Precious Weapons
American Airlines Arena
April 13, 2011

Better Than: A Slurpee on a cool day in a hot room.

Not since a 1990-something Ani DiFranco show has so much talking been heard coming from the stage at a concert. The funny thing is, Lady Gaga's performance last night was as heartfelt, loving, unironic, and sincere as an Ani show. (If you're too young to remember DiFranco, please use Google.) It's like Mother Monster's got all of Madonna's gimmicks -- the Jesus, the cone boobs, etc. But she still comes off like DiFranco -- kinda gay, caring but strange, though less earthy, definitely less earthy than Ani.

At times, the Gaga performance at the American Airlines Arena was part self-help seminar, a little like a public therapy session. But it was also similar to a charismatic church sermon. Oh, and it felt like a Broadway show too. She talked about her own journey to the stage, told everyone they'd have their own stage one day, preached to the audience while laying on the floor, and wriggled through tons of synchronized dancing.

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Photo by Sayre Berman

Like a socially intelligent person, Lady Gaga name-dropped Miami approximately 1,000 times, so that we, Miami, knew that she was in this with us. It was flattering, we must admit. Gaga's a great singer and performer. It was just all the lecturing about how we need to accept ourselves that made the event occasionally uncomfortable. Well, that, and all the mohawks and crotch grabbing. 

The show actually started an hour and a half after the doors opened, so when the panting audience saw her shadow behind the screen, people were screaming heartily. A voice said, "Now we're never gonna make it to the Monster Ball." And a lime-green blonde Gaga responded, "Yes, you will. I'll take you there." Um, aren't we there already? Is this the Monster Ball? Wait, where are we?

The crowd's crazed and uncoordinated chants brought out the singer for "Just Dance," during which she played a little keyboard from under the hood of a green car. Her dancers were maybe guys, maybe girls. If you really cared, you'd have to check out what's downstairs to get a fuller idea whether to use "he" or "she." No one blinked, though, 'cause it's Gaga! 

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Photo by Sayre Berman

This monster mob was almost exclusively comprised of older gay men and teenaged girls, all of which made non-stop clawing motions at each other and the stage. There were tons of people dressed in Gaga garb, including one teen boy who donned leather, knee-high spike heels. 

Meanwhile, the stage show was structured so that between "acts" a screen would come down and either frighten or bore the audience. At one point, during the most exciting sequence, it displayed some girl/guy barfing green stuff onto the "lady." The lady doth not protest. And what followed was Mother Monster, covered in blood, eating what looked like a human heart. To get the audience to dance, though, she did later say, in guilt-trip motherly fashion, that she was starving herself for us. A human organ-only diet perhaps? 

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Photo by Sayre Berman

Then the talking began and rarely stopped.

Some dude that is possibly actually a dude said, "What's the Monster Ball?"

Gaga noted, "Well, the Monster Ball will set you free."

Dude's all, "I can be whoever or whatever I want to be?"

Gaga's like, "Tonight in Miami, we're gonna be super free little monsters!"

Too much talking already! Anyway, there was an amusing little moment when Lady Gaga arose from beneath the stage in a red getup, and her hair was caught under her hood and it looked like a beard. That was funny. 

Some more songs and then again with the gabbing! She started making what sounded like a Grammy acceptance speech, a thank you to fans and some encouraging rambling about how she wasn't always this brave and that you need to reject anyone who makes you feel poopy. We're paraphrasing here. But like, can you sing instead? 

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Photo by Sayre Berman

The nicest thing Gaga did was interact with the audience a ton. People were throwing gifts onto the stage and she was accepting them gratefully. One girl tossed a crown up and Gaga put it on for a bit, kissed it, and threw it back into the crowd. A pillow bearing the image of Ariel from "Little Mermaid" inspired an impromptu "Part of Your World." And another little monster sent a book flying Gaga's way and she read from it, like a loving mother to a group of 20,000 little ones. 

Also, who knew she was such a do-gooder, this Gaga? In preparation for "Telephone," a phone call to an audience member yielded the RE*generation Campaign, which helps homeless teens, $20,000 from Virgin Mobile, and the two chicks who answered their cell got to share a drink with Lady Gaga after the show. Later, she handed a $5 bracelet for tsunami relief, covered in fake blood, to a kid who had giver her a jacket at last night's show in Broward. He looked like he was gonna wet himself. 

OK, so like the creepiest part of the show was the "Show Me Your Teeth" gospel. After Gaga talked for a bit, she'd say, "Show Me Your Teeth" and the drums or guitar would follow. Like a call and response. She was the Priest of Weird and the audience members were the Parishioners of Love Thyself. She even said, "Let's go to church," around the time a Jesus angel fountain showed up on stage before later going up in flames. It's a bit cultish, but at least Gaga's message is one of self-acceptance and not conventional conformity. 

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Photo by Sayre Berman

Next, Ms. Germanotta played the title song from her new album "You and I" on the piano. It sounds like a soulful Sheryl Crow pop country tune. Who knew she had it in her? And then during the encore, it became clear that "Born This Way" sounds like a hybrid of TLC's "Waterfalls" and Madonna's "Express Yourself." Please go listen to it again with these songs in mind. You'll be surprised by the accuracy of this assessment. Really.  

The "Paparazzi" monster was the visual highlight of the show. This crazy, giant octopus beast was the most interesting thing (beside Gaga, of course!) onstage, all night. The other props and sets were OK. But the monster's gaping mouth, goofy eyes, and wildly swinging tentacles were thrilling. What? Puppets are fun for adults too.

Then Lady Gaga emerged with sparks shooting out of her boobs. The whole thing didn't make a ton of sense. But it was definitely entertaining. And that's really the thing about Lady Gaga at this point: She's got a lot of good stuff here. And though it's not always crystal clear and conceptually sound, it's got our total attention.

Gaga's got us little and big monsters right where she wants us. 

Critic's Notebook 

Spotted In The Crowd: Shirtless men.

Overheard In The Crowd: "What does this sound like? Country?"

Personal Bias: "Bad Romance" is a rad dance song.

Lady Gaga's Setlist

City, Act 1
-Intro
-"Dance in the Dark"
-"Glitter and Grease"
-"Just Dance"
-"Beautiful, Dirty, Rich"
-"Vanity"
-"The Fame"

Subway, Act 2
-"Love Game"
-"Boys Boys Boys"
-"Money Honey"
-"Telephone"
-"Born This Way" (solo piano)
-"You and I" (new song)

Forest, Act 3
-"Monster"
-"Teeth"
-"Alejandro"
-"Pokerface"

Monster Ball, Act 4
-"Paparazzi"

Encore
-"Bad Romance"
-"Born This Way"

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Location Info

Map

American Airlines Arena

601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL

Category: General

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8 comments
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Perty
Perty

nope, doesn't do vanity anymore and the "monster ball" starts with bad romance. born this way is the encore.great review though!

Jimmy
Jimmy

Liz Tracy = Mr. Bung Bung. Nice review...gives a great sense of what makes a Gaga show go.

inthenameofmusic
inthenameofmusic

Wonderful write-up! I almost dont need to see this in person.

nico.
nico.

Great write up! Sounds pretty rad to me!

rand majestic
rand majestic

GAGA IS SO MUCH MORE RELEVANT-FROM A CULTURAL AND POLITICAL POINT OF VIEW-THEN A-N-Y OF THE LOCAL POLITICIANS! SHE SPEAKS IN HER OWN ART FORM-AND IS-VERY-ENTERTAINING IN HER OWN EDGY PRESENTATIONS. YOU MUST GO SEE AND WHISPER-"WHAT JUST HAPPENED TO MY SENSES"?!!

A is A
A is A

Fantastic, it's like I was there and I didn't actually have to go.

Nick Ley
Nick Ley

Will you be posting pictures you took from the Little Monsters in the General Admission line??

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