Gaga comes in hot in the prelude
On February 28th, 2020, Lady Gaga released her highly anticipated single “Stupid Love,” the lead to her sixth studio album, Chromatica. The following week, on March 5th, Gaga announced tour dates for The Chromatica Ball. Critics and fans alike were ecstatic Gaga returned to her dance-pop roots, with some fans pondering if this could be the long-awaited Artpop Act II era. Unfortunately, it was not. Worse, the Covid-19 pandemic paused everything following the release of “Stupid Love.” The album, which was planned to be released on April 10th, was pushed back to May 29th. The tour was rescheduled various times over the next two years.
Truth be told, this era was a mess, and out of Gaga’s control. However, there is a silver lining in everything. Behind its house-inspired production, lyrically, the songs on Chromatica are full of pain. Gaga has stated the period she was working on the album was one of the hardest in her life. Interestingly, it being released during the pandemic helped millions of fans get through one of the hardest times of their lives. Can you say full circle moment?
Finally, on July 17th, 2022, Lady Gaga kicked off The Chromatica Ball in Europe before ultimately bringing the tour to the United States. The Manhattan native hosted her hometown show at East Rutherford’s MetLife Stadium. This marked Lady Gaga’s first performance in New Jersey in eight years since 2014’s iconic ArtRave: The Artpop Ball. The Chromatica Ball is split into six segments. There is a Prelude, Act I, Act II, Act III, Act IV, Finale, and Encore. Excluding the encore, all segments are preceded by a lengthy video introduction.
Gaga comes in hot in the prelude performing some of her biggest hits back-to-back, specifically opening with “Bad Romance,” “Just Dance,” and “Poker Face.” The vocals, visuals, and choreography from the dancers are all on point. Things start to get spooky in Act I when Lady Gaga emerges strapped down on a giant metal slab faux bleeding performing “Alice,” “Replay,” and surprising fans with “Monster,” a fan favorite which has not been performed live since 2014. This almost makes up for the fact Gaga did not include any Artpop songs on this tour setlist, a bad choice. Then again Gaga also made sure not to include any songs from Joanne on this tour setlist, a good choice.
By Act II, you feel like you are in a gay nightclub as Lady Gaga keeps the party going with bass shaking the stadium, fire being spouted up, and lights rotating colors. The segment kicks off with an extended version of “911,” “Sour Candy, “Telephone,” and “Love Game.” A solid set of numbers, albeit it was disappointing to realize “Sour Candy,” one of her best on Chromatica, was heavily shortened live.
If there is a climax in such a powerhouse tour, Act III would be it, as Lady Gaga puts on an alluring performance of “Babylon.” During “Free Woman,” Lady Gaga performs a part of the song on Stage A and makes her way through the audience for the main portion of the song, and ends it as she makes her way to Stage B. Anyone who purchased pit and/or floor seats is guaranteed to capture incredible video during this song…I sure did twice in both DC (pit) and NJ (floor)! This act concludes with Gaga performing a beautiful acoustic version of “Born This Way” initially on piano before becoming a full band production.
Act IV is performed on Stage B, which is centered in the middle of the stadium. All of the songs performed during this segment are stripped-down on the piano: “Shallow,” “Always Remember Us This Way,” “The Edge of Glory,” “1000 Doves,” “Fun Tonight,” and “Enigma.” This provides a very intimate atmosphere, with Gaga regularly opening up during and in-between tracks. Gaga’s personal stories bring a much-welcomed element of vulnerability and bonding with fans.
The finale features extended performances of the two biggest staples from Chromatica. “Stupid Love,” which had the potential to be the next “Just Dance” or, at minimum, the next “Applause” had it not been cockblocked by the Covid-19 pandemic, kicked off the finale. The way 9/11 affected artists who released music in September 2011 was the same way the Covid-19 pandemic affected artists who released music in March 2020. Lady Gaga followed this up with her fifth and most recent Billboard Hot 100 #1, “Rain on Me,” whose performance was nothing short of spectacular.
Visually, the encore was the best performance of the night, as Lady Gaga closed out the show with an incredible rendition of “Hold My Hand.” This number was filled with tears, emotion, stellar vocals, and heavy pyro-tronics. Lady Gaga mentioned her hometown show at MetLife Stadium was the largest audience she has ever performed for, at 55,000 people, before tearfully discussing how grateful she was to her fans.
The first United States date on The Chromatica Ball was in Washington DC at Nationals Park stadium. The day it went on sale, I purchased VIP tickets. I was invited by Lady Gaga’s team to cover the MetLife Stadium show and got a second chance to see this show live. Watching “Hold My Hand” in its entirety was the highlight of The Chromatica Ball for me. There is no other artist like Lady Gaga who can put on an out-of-this-world production from start to finish. This is an artist whose worth every minute of your time and truly never disappoints. I am already looking forward to the next tour, and with whispers that Artpop Act II will be released on the tenth anniversary of Artpop (11/11/2023), let’s hope it’s another ArtRave!