Lady Gaga launches Monster Ball tour in Boston

A review of Lady Gaga at the TD Garden on July 1, 2010

, Staff Writer

Having finished a lengthy stint in the UK, pop superstar Lady Gaga kicked off the second leg of her highly anticipated Monster Ball tour at Boston’s TD Garden last week. Although the attempt at a narrative came off as rather flimsy, the overall performance of her electro-pop-opera was a masturbatory experience for both the star and her fans, and a to-the-letter interpretation of what stardom and fandom are actually about.

Opening with “Dance In The Dark”, the 24-year old New York diva kept herself conspicuously hidden from view for the first few minutes of the performance, building the audience’s expectations, delaying the spectacle that is herself for just a bit longer. Coming into full-view, she then dropped into “Just Dance”, which immediately sent the audience into a frenzy.

The show’s “story” focuses on Gaga’s search for the Monster Ball, which, as she explained to one of her backup dancers, was created so that her fans (which she calls her little monsters) would have a place to fly their freak flags and be whatever they like. What’s most interesting about this premise is that Gaga is propping up her fans as this subversive group of societal misfits, when, if we’re being honest here, her music is literally designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator. That’s what pop music has always been about, and surely the irony can’t have been lost on the 19,000 or so in attendance, many wearing official tour t-shirts or dressed in imitation of the star. In any case, that didn’t stop a wave of cheers to burst out of the crowd as she affectionately explained what the Monster Ball was all about.

A lot of time was devoted to her less-known works, in what is likely an effort to pre-empt the next big hit (“Alejandro” wasn’t particularly well-received as a video), but at times also provided a rare humanizing of Lady Gaga, who never seems to break character. Following an emotional take on “Speechless” from her piano, Gaga reminisced about her days playing piano in bars where not even five people knew the words to her songs, and now an entire arena full of fans are out-singing her for that as well her bigger hits like “Just Dance” or “Telephone”. When she says “no pop star will ever love you as much as I do”, it’s strangely believable.

Of course, there were a lot of outfit changes: from a futuristic nun to a bra that shot out a shower of sparks, and plenty more inbetween. After “Teeth”, with a lengthy aside to acknowledge her backing band that had noticeably been out of sight for most of the show, Lady Gaga powered through three of her biggest hits, one after another. “Alejandro”, “Pokerface” and “Paparazzi” each continued to revitalize the energy that had been waning as the B-sides started to wear on the crowd. Closing with “Paparazzi”, Gaga confronted the Monster Ball at long last – a sort of anglerfish-looking thing, except with tentacles – and defeated it by singing, or something like that.

After a brief break, Gaga returned for an encore performance of “Bad Romance”, which everyone had seen coming, and fittingly the entire Boston crowd exploded with excitement. Admittedly, the spectacle seemed less impressive than one would expect from a Lady Gaga show, but once “Bad Romance” started pouring out of the speakers, everything you think a Lady Gaga show should be, came to fruition.

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