Monday, July 07, 2014


Ottawa Bluesfest marked the 21st gig of Lady Gaga's artRAVE tour. Nine tour buses, truckloads of equipment, a personal entourage of 120 and a truly mesmerizing array of costume changes were all part of the spectacle that unfolded in front of 27,000 people who showed up to the party on Saturday night.

From where I stood, after two hours of high energy hits, no one was disappointed.

Giving credit to her supporters here in Canada at many points during her set, the former Stefani Germanotta blasted out of the gate with a full compliment of backup dancers/singers (two of whom carried her out on stage), a hot band and immediately sent the crowd into a mental state with the title track from 2013's Artpop.

Can you fucking hear me?!?!

All in attendance acknowledged that they could.

Continuing on with new material, she made requisite wardrobe changes that were executed at the speed of a dentist's drill and the entire setting in front of the Bell stage seemed to be positively lysergic. Continuing on with this theme, Ms. Gaga appeared for "Venus" in a mile-high brown wig with makeup that bore more than a passing resemblance to Madonna (circa late 80's) as imagined by Salvador Dali. The visual aspect of the show was stunning, with sound quality that was impeccable. While the electro-pop kept the faithful on their feet and dancing, Gaga took a detour away from her ostentatious persona with a solo turn at the keyboards.

Here is where she leaves other contemporary pop-tarts in the dust, as underneath the flash/sheer sonic attack beats the heart of a torch singer. No pitch correction software, no entourage of choreographed, dancing Muppets on LSD...just an exceptionally talented musician. It was this iteration of the artist that mightily impressed all who witnessed the seamless move from "I've Got a Crush on You" to "Born This Way", performed without a net.

Hits? Sure, they were sprayed out effortlessly ("Poker Face", Paparazzi", "Judas") though "Applause" was a definite highlight, as was the encore which featured a solo take on "Gypsy". Several costumed fans were ushered on stage to share the spotlight and the ringleader took a few unscripted moments to read notes that were tossed up to her. Much of her patter between songs was dotted with positive vibes that seemed channelled directly from the late sixties. Wrapping up all of her influences in a druggy, good-time, positive package, Gaga finished off the two hour extravaganza in style, without dragging out the patience of those who got all that they bargained for.

As for your humble scribe, I committed my estimations of the evening to paper over a pint at the nearby Mill Street Pub, wondering if those last two hours were just part of an elaborate dream orchestrated by Bob Mackie and Timothy Leary.

Stef is the real deal...

1 comment:

Bill DuBois said...

Hey Sean, as usual well written review. Although I’m not a “little monster” you can’t help but admire the talent. You can include artists like Kiss, Prince and Michael Jackson in a group that have many distractors but you can’t deny their commitment to the audience’s audio and visual experience when it comes to live shows. I’ve read comments like, “real artists don’t need costume changes, wigs or masks.” Maybe that’s true, Paul McCartney was my favorite concert and his big costume change was taking off his jacket. However I believe all of the “extras” are added with the fan in mind and wanting to give them a real bang for their concert dollar. By the way, strip away all the extras from Prince and he’s one of the finest, flashiest guitar slingers around. Looking forward to more review. Cheers, Bill