Lady Gaga, O2 Centre, London
Tim Minchin, Brighton Centre, Brighton

I'm completely gaga for Gaga...and believe it or not, she likes me too (and my hair), which is why I was treated to a special two-hour audience

It's close to midnight, and Lady Gaga is screaming into my face – my face alone, barely further away from me than you are from these words.

Her hair scooped up into a Bram Stoker's Dracula do, wearing bra, knickers, foot-high stiletto boots, a biker jacket and nothing else, the biggest pop star on the planet is serenading me at close range. It's possibly the most surreal moment of mi vida loca so far, and it's not without rivals.

Deep in the bowels of the 02, Gaga has requested the company of five journalists she feels have been supportive or shown an understanding of what she's about. We wait patiently, expecting a 30-second meet-and-greet. Instead, we get a money-can't-buy two-hour Audience With Gaga, including elongated bursts of ultra-energetic, point-blank performance.

When she isn't doing that, she's high-fiving me for my hairdo, getting dry-humped by her fishnet-legged friend Justin Tranter of support act Semi Precious Weapons, and writhing around on a black leather sofa at angles which prove that, while she may have balls of steel, they're only the figurative variety.

In calmer moments, she'll spill beans on Beyoncé and Britney, share a love of Leigh Bowery, read out a touching letter from a troubled British fan who sent her a bottle of Jameson's (we saw it off, it'd be rude not to), and speak articulately about David Bowie – a valid Gaga comparison in so many ways – and her theory that his every incarnation was the result of an on-going dialogue with his audience, a virtuous circle of projection and reflection. Then she'll leap up and start singing at us again, and I'm pinching myself and giggling.

After rolling around the world with The Monster Ball for the best part of a year (the tour will run until at least May), you'd forgive Gaga for being drained and tour-frazzled. Au contraire. She feeds, Bowie-like, off the renewable energy source of 20,000-strong audiences. It's made a monster of her, in the best possible way.

On the surface, the Ball itself hasn't altered much since the opening night in February: dancers who look like warriors directed by Baz Lurhmann, props including an armour-plated New York taxi, hypodermic syringe staircase and subway carriage-turned-sex club, instruments apparently hewn from a volcano, outfits such as "rubber see-through nun", "animatronic ice fairy" and "Red Queen meets vampire bat", and litres of fake blood.

The now familiar hits are present and coruscating: "Just Dance", its Ibiza friendly imperative subtly undercut by the bleakness of the lyric, "Love Game" incorporating the Manson mix, the two Ps ("Pokerface" and "Paparazzi") and, of course, the imperious lion-roar of "Bad Romance", surely the greatest pop single this century.

What's new is the amazing fire whirlwind coming out of the piano lid, and one new song to whet the appetite of anyone a little jaded by the sub-standard "Alejandro" and "Telephone". It's called "You And I", and it's a storming ballad to a lover who "tastes like whisky" when they kiss.

Far from being tour-lagged, she's on fiery form, ranting about her fanbase creating a space for individualism and liberation in a way which would be corny if it wasn't so damn true, reminiscing about being bullied for being uncool and having a big nose, insisting she has never, ever lip-synched in a concert or TV appearance ("Surprise! A pop show ... and the bitch can SING!"), playing the piano with her feet, and making the self-aware boast "I don't know if you've heard, but I've got a very large cock ...."

The best moment comes when she kills Santa Claus, beheading a fan-thrown figurine with teeth and heels, on behalf of the lonely at Christmas. "He was pregnant with chemicals not meant for children," she justifies, surveying the innards.

Tim Minchin – the other eyeliner-wearing, razor-dodging Dickensian-dressed comedian – is the leading Trojan horse of musical comedy, the art's ultimate entryist.

A barefoot count with backcombed ginger hair, the 35-year-old Aussie uses his cuteness – those big eyes, swivelling from side to side, as if scared by his own shadow – to sneak harsh and unpalatable truths past our defences.

Admittedly, in Brighton, officially Britain's Most Godless Town, those defences aren't set too high when it comes to Minchin's refreshingly sceptical perspective. Nevertheless, it's much easier to get away with characterising prayer as "telekinetically communicating with a zombie Jew and asking him to break the laws of physics" when you set it to a rinky-dink bossa-nova beat. Even so, his stunt involving a copy of the Koran has the room gasping.

Then there's "Cont", a cheerful Gilbert O'Sullivan-esque ditty listing bigoted grievances against assorted groups (Muslims on the Tube, breast-feeding mothers, the bi-curious) until it turns out he's lost half the lyrics, and the song's a perfectly reasonable and liberal number called "Context". Clever.

Backed by a full symphony orchestra, Minchin is a phenomenally fast-fingered jazz/blues pianist (and no mean singer), but the words are everything. A throwaway line like, "Your dog has a bigger carbon footprint than your four-wheel drive", reminds me of Richey Edwards in its ruthless candour.

He's at his most brutal when it comes to love, which he compares to a melanoma, and when taking apart the myth of pre-ordained soulmates using statistics, and such sciencey concepts as bell curves, false positives, P-values, confirmation bias and group-think.

You walk out of a Tim Minchin show convinced that everything you ever believed in is meaningless. And, counter-intuitively, that's an inspiring, life-affirming feeling.

Next Week:

Simon witnesses a special Scouse homecoming by Sir Paul McCartney

Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern