Lady Gaga, Brixton Academy, London
Thursday 16 July 2009
Artists such as Little Boots and La Roux may be grabbing the critical plaudits at the moment, but for sheer effort Lady Gaga is impossible to ignore. Every day there appears to be another set of pictures in the tabloids of an outlandishly attired Stefani Germanotta, resulting in accusations that she is doing nothing more than merely trying to generate controversy and column inches in a cold and calculated grab for pop stardom.
Whether this is true or not, a number one album and two chart-topping singles cannot be put down solely to her ubiquity, and neither can a headline spot at the 5000-capacity Brixton Academy that sells out in 10 minutes. As a result, deafening screams greet the start of the show, a short video (the first of several) entitled "Haus of Gaga presents Who Shot Candy Warhol", and the noise level is raised as the screen drops to reveal Lady Gaga, attired in a skimpy mirrored outfit.
She begins with "Paparazzi", which is then followed by the suitably debauched "Beautiful, Dirty, Rich", both of which are greeted with riotous glee. Lady Gaga laps it up, at one point simply standing still and waving regally so as to ensure that everyone can get a snap of her on their camera phone.
What is great is that the whole thing is played as if it was an arena show, the type that Madonna and Kylie Minogue have perfected – backing dancers, moving video screens and, of course, numerous costume changes (I counted four different outfits) all feature. She even has a piano wheeled out for her at one point, and she plays it while showing off a surprisingly soulful voice on "Brown Eyes".
It is a short set tonight, unsurprisingly given that she only has the one album, but she manages to spread the hits – such as the big disco sing-along "Boys Boys Boys" and "The Fame", which sees her wheeled onto the stage astride a moped – evenly throughout, meaning there is barely a lull.
She finishes with "Poker Face", arguably her biggest song to date and elongated to close to twenty minutes, first led by piano and then reprised in its familiar form. Yes, it might seem a bit of a cop-out to fill the time, but no-one really seems to mind. Her second album will see her add more songs to her repertoire – just don't be surprised if by then the arenas are the only place you will be able to see her.
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