Lady Gaga’s two-night performance at Citi Field Stadium in Queens, NY, marked lucky number thirteen stop on the 60-show Joanne World Tour, and by far the most vulnerable to date. “I’ve been in the music industry for almost ten years, and I am proud of that decade… you got to get older to leave your legacy,” said Gaga.
The concert kicked-off just two hours shy of the scheduled start time, an anomaly many fans actually appreciated due to the extensive check-in process coupled with intense security, and media coverage. Gaga performed a highly diversified nineteen-track set to a sold-out audience of 37,000. The chanting of an eager crowd was amplified when a countdown clock arose on screens ten minutes before the center stage lit up, smoke arose and a country-chic Lady Gaga ascended from underneath the stage to open the show with “Diamond Heart” and “A-Yo.”
A parade of hits then began to ensue with Gaga showing us how effortlessly she could interlace tracks such as “Poker Face” and “Perfect Illusion” back-to-back with one another — a feat that would typically be difficult for any artist to pull off, especially given the variations in sound and presentation with each “era” of Lady Gaga’s career. But alas, this is not any artist we are discussing.
Lady Gaga is one of the biggest pioneers within the music industry of the past decade. And as a pioneer, at least as far as clout is concerned, for the LGBT community. Ironically, Gaga’s strong artist integration with LGBT culture from the conception of her career is what nearly halted it from ever materializing, “Your show is too gay… No one is going to come… There is no commercial audience for you” the songstress tells in-between sets, “Clearly, they were wrong.”
The anticipation before the show was definitely worth the wait as Lady Gaga was able to do the unthinkable, out-sing herself while taking complete part in the entire high-intensity choreographic routines as she effortlessly transitioned from “John Wayne” to “Scheiße” to “Alejandro” in some of her sexiest garbs of the evening. Nostalgia swept the arena when Gaga performed her debut single “Just Dance” and fellow throwback “Love Game” back-to-back with quintessential disco stick in hand. The energy of the evening began to surge with powerhouse performances of high-energy anthems “Telephone” and “Applause,” the latter of which saw glittering gay pride rainbow colors appear behind the stage as Gaga entered on to a runway which extended into the highly sought-after floor seating area, where she would remain for a stripped-down section of the show.
It is important to note that as the concert became more elaborate, no matter how much the stage fluctuated up and down, titled from left to right, and no matter how many fireworks shot up to the sky — Lady Gaga never went off kilter. In this hometown performance in which fans witnessed her singing live to each track, partaking in every dance routine, and frequently playing the guitar and piano, it was evident that Lady Gaga is the official Queen of Pop.
Lady Gaga was able to intertwine juxtaposing hits from various personas and eras of her career, and during the second segment of the show which became much more intimate, showcased how they all make up the mystery that is Stefani Joanne Angelia Germanotta.
Gaga transitioned from an avant-garde “Applause” to a profound set. Saying, “I’d like to dedicate this song to a very special friend of mine who is in the audience tonight, ladies and gentlemen, the one and only, Mr. Tony Bennett.” As fans began to cheer, assuming Bennett would join Gaga on stage given their collaborative 2014 jazz album Cheek To Cheek, Gaga let it be known that Bennett, who walked in the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., would remain dancing in his seat while honoring him for his extensive civil-rights work, revealing stories which previously remained unknown to the public.
“I love hearing the stories that he tells me, like how he used to sneak Duke Ellington into the back of hotels to sing with him and hang out.” Gaga then noted Bennett’s continual encouragement to stand up for what she believes in, which Gaga seemingly equated to the disheartening hate crimes taking place today, and a desire for people to respect one another, as we ultimately all seek the same thing, love.
“How many members of the LGBTQ community are here tonight,” Gaga asked a roaring crowd. “And how many who are not,” which triggered a surprising response of the same magnitude. “Here, we welcome every single kind of person of every single background, color, religion, anything or anyway, as long as you believe that we are equal – and if for some reason there are some people in the audience tonight who don’t believe in equality – which I cannot imagine,” as hearted laughs and cheers ensued simultaneously, “37,000 of you I am quite sure are good hearted people. But if for some reason you’re not like totally in equality, I mean like a little bit, but not all the way, come to mama! I’ll tell you all about it.”
“Come to Mama” kicked off a row of three performances, which were undoubtedly the highlight of the evening. An unexpected and inspirational piano rendition of “Edge of Glory” moved the entire stadium as Gaga demonstrated a multifaceted performing consistency, and unparalleled vocal abilities, which were surreal and quite frankly out of this world. “I love you too” a vulnerable Gaga softly responded back to a fan during one of the few instances in which the entire audience was quiet, everyone in awe essentially, “And I’d like to dedicate the rest of this song to anybody who is an artist in this town that can’t wait to be a star… to all the records you’re going to sell,” Gaga motivates before tearfully breaking down albeit never breaking vocal, “It’s like I put my head down and worked and worked, and then I woke up – and I was here. And then when they ask you to quiet down for speaking your mind and being who you are, you just tell them to be quiet! Because you were born this way” Gaga sasses before breaking out into the climaxing “Born This Way” in which the entire stage, all lighting right down to the colors of the dancers’ costumes, sported pride colors.
Making her way from “Angel Down” to “Joanne,” Lady Gaga broke down any assumptions about her Joanne persona merely being her latest gimmick when recounting detailed tales of when her family was close-knit, often spending time at Aunt Joanne’s home in Montville, New Jersey before her tragic death at age nineteen tore the family apart.
Gaga’s father, Joseph Germanotta, never overcame the death of his sister, in 2012 he opened the Manhattan restaurant Joanne Trattoria in his sister’s memory. The tragedy always became a topic of conversation whenever Gaga spent time with her family in New Jersey. “Maybe I did try to become my dad’s sister to heal his pain. Maybe I tried to heal my family by putting out a record and singing her name. And fuck em, I’m so glad I did” Gaga confesses, voice beginning to crack as she fights back tears. “If my grandma is happier tonight, maybe she can hear this from New Jersey. It’s her daughter, this song’s for you Ang!”
During the show Gaga, whose middle name stems from her late aunt, detailed Joanne died from lupus, which worsened considerably following a traumatic sexual assault she experienced while in college.
Closing out the show on a pop music high, “Bad Romance” was stellar number and incorporated heavy crowd participation. Mother Monster thanked fans for their unprecedented loyalty over the course of her career, and ups and downs. “Most importantly, thank you for spreading a message of love around the world with your dedication to my music, cause when we have trouble finding the cure, we’ve always got each other to try and fix, we got love baby” she expressed before delivering a one-of-a-kind performance of current single, “The Cure.” Despite being presented as the finale, most of the audience consisted of little monsters that remained seated as Lady Gaga eventually took to the piano one last time. “Let’s do this one for Texas,” Gaga proclaimed as she served a flawless execution of “Million Reasons” in spite of a previous highly demanding slew of dance numbers.
Lady Gaga was nothing but perfection in her magical homecoming performance at Citi Field, a unique showcase which introduced a plethora of stories, and references about her life as Stefani Joanne Angelia Germanotta, growing up in New York and New Jersey, a tale which can’t personally be conveyed in other cities on her world tour with such intimacy, was made evident here.
Lady Gaga stands tall as the pop queen using her own life, and personal history as an artistic muse whilst motivating fans with pure authenticity in all aspects of performance, a quality her predecessors lack, and is all but absent within fellow artists of her demographic. Concertgoers walk into this show knowing it is the concert of the year; they walk out not knowing Lady Gaga is an icon, but realizing Lady Gaga is THE icon.