Photo credit: Getty Images for Live Nation.
Lady Gaga’s fifth world tour recently made its pit stop in St. Louis at the Scottrade Center. On the road to support her platinum album Joanne, Gaga proved she still knows how to celebrate her fans, her music, and her career. With creative direction by LeRoy Bennett and set construction by Tait, the innovative set design had Gaga’s Little Monsters marveling. While the usual main stage butted up against the back of the venue, two circular stages were spaced out on the main floor while a smaller stage was erected on the other side of the auditorium. As fans huddled around these spectacles, one could only wonder what part the three huge, pink amoebas hanging from the ceiling would play in the night’s festivities.
Apparently, the hot merch item du jour was the clear backpack with pink piping and of course, the singer’s name prominently displayed. Along with the sea of pink felt hats, these backpacks were everywhere—Gaga knows how to merchandise.
As the crowd—a mixture of young, confident gays and allies as well as a healthy dose of mature fans—patiently waited for their queen to arrive, we were treated to commercials about Gaga’s other projects. Her documentary, Gaga: Five Foot Two, is the toast of Netflix, and Gaga has teamed up with the office supply giant Staples to create Staples for Students. Gaga and Staples are raising money to help kids achieve their dreams by giving them the tools they need for success. You can learn more about it at www.staplesforstudents.org.
The show kicked off with a massive pink countdown clock. Kicking off her set with a duo of songs from Joanne, Gaga greeted the crowd with “Diamond Heart” and “A-YO.” During the latter, she donned a guitar and paid homage to St. Louis’ own Chuck Berry and his signature leg kick.
Launching into one of her biggest hits, “Poker Face,” Gaga proved once again why she is the superstar she is—the energy during this performance was palpable. With amazing choreography and an innovative stage, this performance was one of many highlights of the night.
Of course, at a Gaga show, one expects to be impressed with the fashions and this show was no exception. Each of the creations were eye-catching and undeniably high fashion. During the cowboy-themed performance of “John Wayne,” even Gaga’s pyro had fashion as it was more than just huge blasts of fire, it was stylized flame shots that had an attitude.
Before her performance of “Schieβe”, Gaga addressed the crowd about the meaning of the song and how you don’t have to ask for permission to be strong. While she was speaking to the girls in the audience, the sentiment was felt by everyone. This was not the first time Gaga addressed the crowd and it wouldn’t be the last. These moments were the emotional highlights of the performance—when Gaga connected with the crowd, it showcased her vulnerable side and endeared her to the fans.
After a few more extremely well-choreographed numbers, including “Just Dance,” “LoveGame,” and “Telephone,” the pink amoebas came alive as long parts of them descended from the sky to connect each of the circular stages. Gaga and her crew maneuvered these ramps during “Applause.”
Gaga made her way to the back of the stage and the waiting piano. This is when the emotions really took off as she addressed the crowd again and delivered heart-wrenching versions of “Come to Mama” and “The Edge of Glory.” During these numbers, she talked about the need for equality and how to cope with loss. Gaga’s own emotions took over as she began to cry during the end of “The Edge of Glory.” The moment was genuine and heartfelt. Moments like these are why Gaga endures. She gave each of these performances every ounce of her energy and gave the crowd every ounce of her heart.
Back to the main stage for high energy, theatrical versions of “Born this Way” and “Bloody Mary,” Gaga once again flexed her fashion muscle. Trust me: these creations will be echoed by drag queens for years to come.
Making her way to the back stage once again, Gaga stopped and asked fans to take her photo to post on her Instagram. She said she had a few followers and they would love to see her photo. She then shrewdly launched into one of her biggest hits, “Paparazzi.” The show took a dark, but intriguing, turn shedding light on the violent side of fame.
Giving the crowd yet another emotional highpoint of the night, Gaga returned to the piano and struck a nerve with another honest and sensitive performance, “Angel Down.” Both her vocals and the imagery in this performance were overwhelming, giving the audience a reason to pause.
Strolling back to the main stage, she made a quick stop midway to pick up an acoustic guitar and talk about why she called her latest album Joanne. Once again, she allowed us access to her private life and informed us of her own family struggles and emotional battles. Never have I seen an artist bare this much of their soul to their audience—it was mesmerizing. Wrapping up her performance with outstanding performances of “Bad Romance,” and “The Cure” Gaga closed the show with another emotional and soul-baring performance of “Million Reasons.”
The Joanne Tour was full of emotional highs and fantastic performances. But this tour is more than just an artist coming out on stage and belting out their biggest hits. Gaga took the audience on an emotive journey, a journey full of personal stories, tangible connections to the audience, and moments for her fanbase to treasure for a lifetime.
The world is full of singers, but Gaga is more than that—she is a performer. While I have seen more concerts than I can count, it is rare that I see a performance as genuine and authentic as what Gaga created onstage. This talented chanteuse gave her fanbase a million more reasons to love her. │ Jim Ryan