The O2 was the venue, Lady Gaga was the performer. We arrived an hour and a half before doors opened so we could have a meal, but the queues were already huge. Luckily, Frankie and Benny’s gave us a little electronic thing that beeped when there was a table for us, so we went to visit the British Music Experience while we waited, as we’d been given free tickets on the way in.
This in itself was a good time to pass the time, reliving nostalgia, but the fact we couldn’t get to use any of the interactive stuff was a bit rubbishy and I was definitley glad we hadn’t paid to go in. As a free event it was fine, but to pay for tickets I would have felt a bit ripped off.
Once we’d had dinner we headed into the O2 arena. Fast-tracking the queues thanks to my O2 phone, we got in partway through the first warm up act -Semi Precious Weapons (no, me neither.) With an obsession with the f-word, it wasn’t suitable for kids, and my initial reaction was ‘she forgot to put her trousers on’. Turns out she was a he, and after a on-stage full outfit change, we concluded he looked like Chris Crocker. Needless to say, I wasn’t bothered about missing the first half of their performance.
Second warm up act was Alphabeat, who performed five songs and were amazing. The lead male singer, I don’t know his name, but I suddenly discovered I love him much more after seeing them live. They went off stage at 8.30, and we were treated to Michael Jackson music for the next 45 minutes. The crowd were so fed up of waiting that about three times when a song finished they cheered, followed by a unanimous sigh when it came back on again.
When Gaga did come on, however, she was amazing. Opening with Dance in the Dark, one of my favourite songs, she made use of a rather extravagent set, including a car with a piano in the bonnet. The four scene changes happened behind a black screen while images were projected onto a white one in front of it, and contained such elaborate things like a piano that she performed while it was on fire, a large monster with lights on and what looked to be a cable car carriage.
I lost count of the number of costume changes, but like the scenery, there was no expense spared. The most impressive one was a headpiece that looked like fibre optics coming out the side which moved up and down. I can easily see why they lost so much money on the American leg, but the show was definitely in typical Gaga form.
As much as we saw the elaborate Gaga we see in the papers, there was also a glimpse of the girl behind the facade. Several times when she spoke it sounded like she would burst into tears, and she sounded so grateful for the three Brit awards she received when she mentioned them. In her own words, however, I think I’ve found the appeal behind her: she was never the cool kid at school, and performing to her fans “makes her feel like she’s cool”. Many people, including myself, can empathise with that feeling, and I think that’s part of her rapid rise to stardom.
Behind the exterior, she does seem rather fragile, but just when you think you’re seeing the real Gaga, she launches into another crowd-rousing song that gets everyone screaming and dancing along, forgetting what they’ve just seen. Not to say the crowd-rousing was bad; it certainly worked, and closing with Bad Romance was fantastic, with the whole of the O2 singing along.
There were only two issues I had. One, a personal thing, was that somebody spilt their alcohol as they walked along the aisle and got my bag, jacket and scarf wet, which was horrible when I had to put them on at the end. The second was the merchandise: I bought a £10 programme, which was just full of pictures, and I felt ripped off: if I’d wanted pictures, I’d have bought a poster instead.
Still, I couldn’t really complain about the show itself, short of the blood on her neck she had in one performance that I didn’t much like. She made use of swearwords as well, though not as much as her support act, and it didn’t seem suitable for young children, especially when she had one backing dancer literally just in pants. For entertainment value, it was fantastic, though, and I couldn’t really tell if she was miming or not. I like to hope she was performing live, but given the exhaustive dance routines, I have my doubts, but it was impressive all the same and well worth the ticket money.