Lady Gaga: Live Last Night

lady gagaLady Gaga, in her disco ball mini-dress at Constitution Hall. (All photos by Mark Gail/TWP)

Live Last Night

By David Malitz

She's not much of a singer. She's not much of a dancer. Her best songs remind you of better songs by previous chart-toppers. So just how has Lady Gaga become the breakout pop star of 2009? By the force of sheer fabulousness, that's how.

Her hour-long performance at a sold-out Constitution Hall Tuesday night was all spectacle. She emerged from what looked like makeshift volcanic rock, wearing a very tight, almost-vulgarly short mini-dress that was like a space-age painting made of disco balls. Each of the evening's 10 songs was given over-the-top, award show treatment. There were costumes. There was choreography. There was a motorbike.

There was everything except pants.

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

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As far as trademark looks go, it's certainly a memorable one. When Madonna crawled around the stage in a wedding dress at the MTV Video Music Awards a quarter century ago, that was suggestive. When Britney Spears draped herself in a python, that too was suggestive. Lady Gaga goes beyond the point of suggestion. This was a cheeky show. Lady Gaga let it all hang out. A skintight, flesh-colored leotard kept things legal but left very little to the imagination.

All this talk about clothes, but what about the music? Yeah, what about it? It was there. Her dance-pop songs are mostly innocuous fun, heavily indebted to Madonna and her many followers. They sounded exactly as they do on her lone album, "The Fame," mostly because the majority of the music was piped in. There was the token four-piece backing band but they weren't even visible during show opener "Paparazzi" and they weren't missed.

Gaga (real name Stefani Germanotta) knows her way around a catchy vocal melody, as anyone who has had "Poker Face" stuck in his head for days on end can tell you. And while she's no Whitney, she can at least belt with authority, but more importantly, attitude. "Beautiful, Dirty, Rich" was a feisty, discofied delight that had the adoring crowd dancing in the aisles.

Gaga may borrow sounds and be all about the glitz but her persona is clearly defined and as over-the-top as possible. "People tell me I'm slutty. Or not a lady. But I'm a free [expletive]!" she said to a chorus of cheers. She cursed a blue streak, flipped her middle finger a half dozen times and gyrated with her three male backing dancers. Again, the crowd lapped it up.

It made a moment toward the end of the show especially bizarre. Before a solo piano, cabaret take on the inescapable "Poker Face" she asked the crowd to pray for her ailing father. After an hour of debauchery it seemed like a setup. But it was a true plea for support, and a bit disconcerting, briefly ruining the bizarre display of outlandish escapism.

Of course, she quickly followed that very personal moment by standing on the piano bench, bending over to play, her derierre in the air on full display, like a diva pinata.

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By David Malitz |  September 30, 2009; 2:51 PM ET Live Last Night
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Comments

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That was a terrible concert, I hated it! She can't sing, there were only like 7-8 songs performed, the crowd had a two-hour wait for a less-than-one-hour concert. The acoustics were awful. There was too much bass and almost no mid- or vocal frequencies. I couldn't hear the melody of any song, even though I tried, all I could hear was loud noise. But above all, GaGa is way overrated. She does have a couple of good songs, but that's it. And as the reviewer noted, the "pray-for-my-father" moment was bizarre. Why would you interject something as serious as that into an expletive-laden freakfest? Also, wasn't the show about GaGa's dance-pop -- why would I want to listen to some hard-rock guitar players during her concert?!

GaGa did not connect with her audience, did not sing for them, but worst of all, there was no magic in her performance. Very disappointing, and frankly boring.

Posted by: eugene8 | September 30, 2009 4:46 PM

She ain't no Janis. Heck...she's not even my cousin Janice.

I suspect she will soon be forgotten.

Posted by: Bebunk | September 30, 2009 5:25 PM

The ultimate triumph of form over function? I just don't get her, at all.

Hmm, another Italian-American pop star. She could only hope to ever have the kind of career Louise "Maddona" Circone has had.

Posted by: EricS2 | October 1, 2009 12:11 AM

I thought it was great -- this was the first "pop show" I've ever been to (my last few concerts were Andrew Bird and Feist, to illustrate), but in terms of entertainment, I had fun. I'm not sure about people saying she can't sing: that show was live and there was never a shrill moment. She may not be Beyonce, but she's not Britney either.

Yeah, the wait was annoying. If she hadn't canceled the 9:30 show, it would've been better than this. But it was nothing close to the atrocity you all make it out to be.

Posted by: knnn | October 1, 2009 2:03 PM

hahahahahaa. "..She's not much of a singer. She's not much of a dancer. Her best songs remind you of better songs by previous chart-toppers..." you Washington DC folks are so full of it. I have lived here 5 yrs and sometimes I just can't believe what a bunch of prats live here within the beltway. This lady is bringing it full on very unique and new and you criticize her abilities and then flap into a "fabulousness" comment as if that overcomes her inability to sing? she totally CAN sing and WRITE and just because she wouldn't do an interview with the post because you guys are 5years behind the times doesn't mean she doesn't have talent. The reason she's become so popular is that she's genuine.

As for Eugene8, you were at the wrong show. You should have been at Peter Paul and Mary. You have gotten the quality of the venue confused with the quality of the show. DAR sucks. Worst venue I have ever been to a show at but if you have been to any other shows there you would have known that before you made your comment. I didn't really mind waiting as we had a great time talking to other LGG fans near us about how refreshing it is to see LGG shake things up a bit. You were probably busy clogging up a toilet somewhere trying to relieve your constipation. everyone is entitled to their opinion except when it totally misrepresents the facts -- the idea that she didn't connect with her fans is insulting. like I said you were at the wrong concert. and I think those of us who are fans would appreciate it if you would choose your words more carefully next time and stay at home with your tivo.

Posted by: jdsboston | October 3, 2009 5:16 PM

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