“Space renegade Lady Gaga has escaped,” the hologram Gaga-face floating above a giant fairytale castle informs us. “Mission: to give birth to a new race.”
There are many accusations you can throw at Gaga, but lack of ambition ain’t one. Her gigs are like rock operas, staggering tableaux strung along a loopy narrative thread.
She enters tonight on a black mechanical horse, undercutting the thumping, sparkling, industrialglam energy of “ Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)” with a funereal procession round the circular walkway that fronts the stage, head veiled and bowed like a Ringwraith as styled by HR Giger.
It’s an oddly sombre start to a pop show, as if to let you know that she doesn’t need to wow you with a big entrance. Soon, though, she’s gliding eerily across the stage on wheeled stilts, done up like an android nurse, before flinging herself into that odd, jerking-automaton dance to “Bad Romance” and “Judas”.
Especially considering her flailing fervour, her voice is a remarkable thing, sometimes a harsh bark, sometimes a rich jazzy croon. During “Telephone” she picks up a Barbie thrown on stage by a fan, casually dismembering it.
“I was never a fan of this little blonde bitch anyway, dunno about you...” An acoustic section (on a piano that’s also a cyborg motorbike, of course) is paused as she recounts how record labels told her that her sound was too niche. “Looks like a pretty big niche to me,” she says before leaning hard on the “You may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one” line of (sigh) John Lennon’s “Imagine”.
She lays her outsider-queen shtick on a bit thick (and you can’t help wondering, with a bit less chat, if she might have squeezed in “Poker Face” or “Alejandro”) but if you can question its authenticity, you certainly can’t doubt her sincerity or her love for those who follow her.
The walkway encircles the “Monster Pit”, to which fans gain access not by paying golden-ticket prices but by queuing early. From it, a stream of pale and trembling teens fight back tears as their idol pulls them onstage, promises to meet them afterwards or pores over their gifts. A lucky four even get to close the show with her, romping around the circular catwalk to “ Marry The Night”.
The slavish devotion in their eyes suggests that mission to mother a new race might be near-complete.