San Jose, CA 2013
What a major disappointment.
Just when it appears that Lady Gaga has surpassed her competitors in controversy — Madonna, Britney Spears, etc. — she takes a major step backward with a tour that delivers much flash and little else. I love a good pop spectacle, which was exactly what fans got with the Monster Ball Tour, but this current production is so over-the-top that it completely buries the music.
Even the 13,000-or-so fans, who were ecstatic at the start of the show, seemed to tire of the onslaught on the senses as the night progressed. The level of enthusiasm definitely seemed to peak early in the concert.
One problem was that the show was too long — nearly 2 ½ hours. That’s probably a good hour longer than what Gaga’s current songbook warrants. An even bigger problem, ironically, was that she just tried to shoehorn too much into that time span. She went through costume changes, storylines, theatrics, dance routines and special effects at breakneck speed, to the point where the only constant was change itself.
The stage was designed to look like a three-story medieval castle, a setting that, to be honest, fit this high-profile Obama supporter about as well as a “Vote Republican” T-shirt. She made an initial effort to tie together the pieces, with a unicorn and some knights in armor paraded about, but then quickly launched into an outer-space theme, as a floating disembodied head announced that Gaga was some alien fugitive who should be killed.
Then came the birth scene — this tour’s big shocker moment, which is every bit as bizarre as the last trek’s pivotal scene, when Gaga battled a monstrous fish by shooting flames from her undergarments. This time around, a giant inflatable torso gives “birth” to Gaga in a disturbingly anatomically correct fashion. The newborn pops out and sings, appropriately enough, “Born This Way” — truly a case of “too much information,” if you ask me.