Lady Gaga made a Houston crowd fluctuate between cathartic tears and fervent dancing during her show on Tuesday in support of her latest album, “Chromatica.”
The little monsters showed up in droves on the 13th of September, crowding the streets outside of Minute Maid park dressed in costumes Mother Monster would approve of. Some replicated looks Gaga had worn on the red carpet, in music videos or on the cover of albums Others arrived in outlandish designs worthy of a Lady Gaga show. All arrived excited and ready to see their queen.
Like Queen and Guns ‘n’ Roses, Lady Gaga does not need any opening acts. She also doesn’t need press, photographers notably absent from the pit that night.
Ever the artist, Gaga has added a large video element to her live shows, using short films to separate and set the mood for each of the five acts.
She did not hold back during Act I, launching into crowd pleasers like “Bad Romance,” “Just Dance” and “Poker Face.” Gaga remained encased in a futuristic cocoon on the second level of her set, allowing her dancers to take center stage and move the crowd through their tight choreography. Gaga took a page out of Coldplay’s book, distributing synchronized light-up bracelets to the fans on the floor.
The stadium strobed in sync during “Bad Romance,” red stage lights pulsating along with the bracelets during the chorus. The move of starting with some of their greatest hits is undeniably a good one. It puts everyone in a great mood, more susceptible to celebrating the newer music now that they can rest assured they won’t leave without hearing their favorites.
Gaga began to shed some of her cocoon throughout the first act, slowly incorporating more movement in her dancing. Finally, the transition into the second act began, signaled by a short film featuring Gaga slayed out on an operating table.
After the conclusion of the film, an operating table the real Gaga was on lowered her to the main stage. She rose, the crowd screaming so loudly at the latest costume reveal they drowned out the start of “Alice.”
Gaga came with an arsenal of options in her wardrobe. She changed into something new for nearly every song. The performer kept herself to the main stage, but her guitarist Tim Stewart and Ricky Tillo alternated their time on the wings of the stage or up and down the catwalks.
Fans made sounds of awe when Brockett Parsons was revealed surrounded by a circular keyboard, impressed both with the novelty and the skill.
The hype during “Telephone” was undeniable, even though the song was significantly shortened without Beyonce’s verse. Fans behind me murmured about how iconic it might have been for Beyonce to make a surprise appearance in her hometown.
The guitars joined together for a mini jam session on the right catwalk at the end of “LoveGame,” fading with the inky darkness once the third act’s film began to play.
Act III brought the show onto a plane of splendor and excess. Fittingly, Gaga emerged in flowing golden robes whose aesthetic I can only describe as ‘alien high priestess’ for “Babylon.”
She walked down the catwalk for the first time in the night but didn’t stop at the end of the platform. Instead, she descended with her performers and bodyguards in tow to through the path between barriers. She walked to a separate stage between floor seating and the 100s section, right at the base of Minute Maid’s baseball diamond.
At the smaller, more intimate stage, Gaga spoke to the audience for the first time in the show, breaking away from the strict blocking and choreography of her show to connect with her fans.
“Hello, Houston,” Gaga laughed. “Last time I was here, I was jumping through the ceiling!” Fans laughed along, remembering her iconic entrance into the LI Super Bowl in 2017.
She sat and chatted with the audience for a little, noting how the fanbase was never what one would call ‘the usual crowd.’ But they were beautiful regardless.
“Whenever someone asks me what I am, and I feel unsure of the answer, I always say the same thing. And you can say it too if you want. I say “I was born this way.”
The audience cheered as she began a piano rendition of her 2011 hit, “Born This Way.” Although the song began with just Gaga on piano, it soon evolved to include the band and dancers. The song concluded with everyone in the stadium raising their monster paws up in the air, followed by a fade to black to signify the start of another act.
When the lights rose again, Gaga was still at the smaller stage. She continued to talk to her fans as she found chords on her piano. She encouraged kindness and truth and resilience, despite some of the antagonistic people in power in the Texas government.
The entirety of Act IV was emotional and reflective. At one point, the New York singer/songwriter passed to look around at the stadium. She began to speak about her dear friend Sonja (Durham), a Houston native.
‘She was very young… when she passed,” Gaga said. “But she was always so positive. Sonja was joyous, uplifting, adored shoes and was a beloved friend, daughter and wife. She even worked with Gaga for years, before her illness became too advanced.
“I was really angry when we lost her so young. But I think she would not want me to be so angry anymore.”
Someone in the nosebleeds screamed Sonja’s name. Then followed by another, and another. The stadium echoed with “I love you, Sonja” loud enough that it might’ve reached the heavens, if not just the ward over.
Holding back tears, Gaga began a slow rendition of “Always Remember Us This Way,” changing to lyrics to;
That Texas sky burning’ in your eyes
You look at me and, babe, I wanna catch on fire
She continued to pull at out heartstrings with “Edge of Glory,” concluding the rest of Act IV’s songs on her piano.
Act V began with a very Shakespearean sonnet. Then a dramatic performance of “Stupid Love” in yet another costume. The pyrotechnics were going off like crazy. And yes, I can confirm they were as incredibly hot as the internet claimed. I felt my face burning. The man behind me thought his contacts were going to melt. It was truly something to behold.
The final song of the Night was “Rain on Me,” followed by “Hold My Hand.” as an encore.
Lady Gaga continues to put on a show unlike any other, connecting with fans, moving them and having an amazing time while doing it.