Lady Gaga reviews: What the critics are saying about the pop star's Las Vegas residency

So far critics have praised the pop spectacle of 'Enigma', but also the stripped-down moments 

Roisin O'Connor
Music Correspondent
Wednesday 02 January 2019 09:00
Lady Gaga performs at her residency in Las Vegas, 28 December 2018
Lady Gaga performs at her residency in Las Vegas, 28 December 2018

Lady Gaga launched her Las Vegas residency on Friday 28 December, and the first reviews read like raves.

The 32-year-old pop star has split her show in two halves, Enigma – a fully-fledged pop show – and Jazz & Piano that features stripped-down versions of Gaga’s hits, lesser known songs and classics from the American songbook, which will begin on 20 January.

“The best moments are the ones that feel improvised,” Rolling Stone said in its review of Enigma, “like when she ad libs during ‘You and I’, singing the line ‘Been a long time but I’m back in town’ before adding, ‘and I’m stickin’ around for two whole years. Three if I’m lucky!’”

“There’s a short encore to properly conclude the show once Enigma departs. In an oversized march shirt that has her Bowie-inspired “Poker Face” lightning bolt cutting through a silhouette of her body, she sings one last song: “Shallow,” the runaway hit from A Star Is Born.

“The moment is a balm, and its one that makes sure the show’s time machine takes us right back to the present, reminding us how far she’s come and the many lives she’s lived after taking us on a tour of her own musical history. She performs ‘Shallow’ as Ally Maine does towards the end of the film after becoming a full-fledged pop idol.”

The review concludes: “For a show that at first seemed like an excuse to remind us what Gaga is best at, it ended up becoming a show that confirms and begins her legacy.”

Enigma is a generous show, by Vegas pop standards, not just by exceeding the standard get-‘em-out-onto-the-slot-machines set length, but because Gaga also happens to do almost two hours more of actual singing than some of her counterparts on the Strip,” Variety said. “Watching Gaga do what she does best — even better than act, still — is all the story or connecting thread a show needs. She and ‘Born This Way’ were both born to be in Vegas, and to raise the bar for superstar residencies just a little bit higher.”

Entertainment Weekly said: “Enigma is Gaga’s way of sharing an epiphany that we can only assume she’s recently experienced and strove to manifest creatively in the way that best suits her.

“At some point, Gaga lost who she was — whether by her own fault, or the machine around her, is only for her to say — but Enigma, in as much as we need from it, serves as her way of affirming that she’s never been more secure in who she is, and that the most atypical parts of Lady Gaga are just as present and valid as the parts we perhaps have told her we’d have an easier time accepting.”

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For Billboard, the outfits during the show were a big draw: “With her longtime fashion collaborator Nicola Formichetti and her sister Natali Germanotta joining forces, the duo spawned a number of creative looks —ranging from florescent and leather to a body suit with flashing LED lights and a nude-colored unitard— for Gaga, the dancers and her band that would have made David Bowie proud.”

The EW review added: “As over-the-top as the show was, it was the more sombre moments that stood out and gave insight to her separate Vegas show titled “Lady Gaga Jazz & Piano,” which will feature stripped down versions of Gaga’s hits.”

In a feature for The Independent, Helen Brown observed how the Las Vegas residency is the role Gaga was “born to play”.

“Those out of the Sin City loop may think it odd for a star on such a trajectory to sign up for Vegas,” she said. ”For decades, the Nevada city has been the place where America put pop singers out to pasture. But the mood has been shifting since Britney Spears began drawing a younger, hipper crowd with her 2013-2017 Piece of Me show, which earned the MGM Park casino hotel around $135m (£107m) in ticket sales alone. While that show was something of a comeback – albeit for a relatively young performer – Bruno Mars signed up for his 2016 residency at the peak of his commercial and critical success and made 24K showbiz magic of it.

“Gaga has reportedly been given $100 million reasons to deliver a two-year residency (also at the MGM Park). She’s an even better fit for Vegas than Spears or Mars: she is capable of both visually excessive pop and elegant old-school jazz.”

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