In the past week the build up to Lady Gaga’s only UK concert this year has been completely inescapable, unless you live in a cave on the moon with your eyes shut and your hands over your ears. Over the past week there’s been such excitement about Lady Gaga playing in Carlisle. We’ve been rehearsing the dance routines. We’ve been dying our hair funny colours. And we’ve all spent weeks practising putting our paws up. Outside her hotel has been packed with fans waiting to get a glimpse of her and anticipation reached fever pitch when she came out one evening with a tray of biscuits for all her little monsters.
Needless to say, last night lived up to the hype. Managing to get her little monsters worked up into a frenzy before even getting on stage, her entrance was suitably artistic and eccentric. I think we all knew who was in that coffin the minute it was carried on, and sure enough, little by little she emerged. Her appearance on stage from a coffin in a costume mimicking heavy pregnancy set the tone for her first song of the evening: Born This Way. After the initial frenzy of her latest track as an opener, Gaga performed her piece de resistance, Bad Romance, followed by a medley of “our hits, little monsters”: Telephone, Pokerface and Alejandro. Each was accompanied with its own dance routine (*the* dance routines, the ones you learnt off by heart from the videos). The professionalism of the slick, quick and precise troupe of backing dancers made it feel as if they weren’t supporting Gaga, they were part of her.
After such a fast-paced start, Gaga let the evening mellow by introducing a jazz interlude with Brian Newman on the trumpet. It was great to see Gaga singing jazz, and adapting Orange Coloured Sky to include verses on Wills and Kate added a touch of humour.
As a thank you to all the little monsters out there, Gaga gave emotional renditions of Speechless and Edge of Glory, dedicated to her father and grandfather. By the end of the second song, she was in tears. It was touching to see someone sing and play with such raw passion and emotion.
Then we were treated to one of the songs from the upcoming new album, You and I. At first, this rock-inspired song seems to be about the powerful bond and feelings of two lovers, but I think the evening showed us that there’s more to it than that. Gaga repeatedly thanked her fans throughout the evening, and the sheer adulation the little monsters have for mother monster created a sense that this song was about the mutual love between Gaga and her fan base.
Picking up the pace once again, Gaga gave us an energised version of her first big hit, the pounding Just Dance. When the confetti fell all over the crowd, I thought this was the finale. But, after a quick costume change into a studded biker jacket, Gaga had us all jumping up and down and dancing along to Judas. It was a fantastic finale, complete with pyrotechnics.
Before the evening, Lady Gaga was a superstar. She’s sold over 23 million records and she’s the most (and fastest) downloaded artist in history. She’s a huge success, by anyone’s standards. And it’s great to see that this success is well deserved. Gaga is a genuinely talented and gifted artist. She takes her work seriously and devotes herself to it tirelessly with her flawless, energetic and non-stop dance routines combined with her vocals never missing a beat or note. Lady Gaga is more than just an artist, she’s an icon. She has created a devoted cult of little monsters, and there’s no shortage of people willing to worship her genius. This sets her apart from other musicians: “some artists want your money so they can buy Range Rovers and diamond bracelets, but I don’t care about that kind of stuff. I want your soul.”