Sunday, June 24, 2012

Born This Way Ball - Live In Sydney - Review


It's strange the difference a year can make. When the Monster Ball rolled into town, I was a raised paw (and a smidgen of self-respect) away from being a little monster. The Fame and Fame Monster lifted the bar for modern dance-pop albums and I loved her theatrical stage presence. But the Born This Way era lost me. The album was not very good and the increasingly awful videos demonstrated that she is, essentially, a one trick pony with an increasingly tired message. And yet, I was still excited to see her on Wednesday night. The 26-year-old (stop laughing) is a brilliant live performer and already has a stronger back catalogue than most of your dusty faves. It's a shame then that the Born This Way ball is the concert equivalent of a drag show crossed with a self-help seminar.

Hordes of fans made the pilgrimage to Allphones Arena for Lady Gaga's first of four sold-out Sydney dates in full costume. Pretty impressive given that the stadium is almost an hour by train from the city. It's a long way to go wearing coke-can rollers, hair-bows and pointy shoulder pads! Their dedication can't be faulted and I was genuinely moved when an awkward teenager standing next to me burst into tears at the mere sight of his icon. I know what it's like to be that wrapped up in an artist and I hope he enjoyed every second of show. Lady Gaga really is the second coming for teenage gays and ugly people and she deserves a lot of credit for preaching a positive message of self-acceptance. But it's time to change the record because this shit is starting to get old.

In all fairness, the show began in spectacular fashion. Lady Gaga emerged from what looked Castle Grayskull, chained to the back of a horse. She was then marched around the circular runway by her captors, while belting out "Highway Unicorn (Road To Love)" from underneath a mask. It was dark, gothic and dangerous. This is the kind of visual mayhem Gaga is capable of when she's not trying to reinvent the wheel. Unfortunately, it was largely downhill from there. The heinous crime against music otherwise known as "Government Hooker" came next and the stupid talking head from her "Born This Way" video made an appearance to announce a ridiculous narrative that I couldn't follow. Speaking of that crappy song, she finally escaped the confines of her bulky costume to perform it - complete with one of the evening's few well-choreographed dance routines.

Next up was the painfully uncontroversial Black Jesus segment. Mother Monster took the chance to launch into the first of many rants about loving yourself and expressing your individuality. The diva begged the audience not to give a fuck. She should practice what she preaches and stop obsessing over Madonna. But I digress. "Bloody Mary" was a complete non-event and "Bad Romance" wasn't given the epic treatment it deserves. That majestic anthem will stand the test of time unlike 90% of Born This Way and deserved more than a half-arsed dance in the castle courtyard. It was at about this time that the staging really began to annoy me. Lady Gaga is one of the few pop stars that can simultaneously sing and dance but the poor bitch had about two metres of stage to play with. I'm sure the castle cost a fortune but it looked cheap and tacky. This is definitely a case where less would have been more.


"Judas" already sounds dated but the Born This Way ball momentarily came alive when Gaga performed "Just Dance" and "LoveGame". Those hits brought the non-monsters in the audience to their feet and she was genuinely engaging when she talked about how far she had come since the release of the former. It's easy to forget that "Just Dance" was a number one hit in Australia almost a year before it exploded overseas, so I guess we can lay claim to hatching the superstar. Yay? I got a particular kick out of hearing "Telephone" but it's really not the same without Beyoncé there to add some class and sex appeal. It did, however, spark my favourite part of the show when Lady Gaga joked around with fans, making references to '90s bands and cult classic Clueless. This is the woman I want to see more of - not the well-intentioned but frankly annoying self-love advocate that polluted the rest of the show.

For such an expensive production, I think most of her outfits looked like bad Mardi Gras costumes. What's worse - they were just recycled ensembles from videos or the red carpet. Lady Gaga is supposed to be an innovator, so why has her image not evolved for 3 years? One exception was the human motorcycle look she rocked for "Heavy Metal Lover". That was hot and I loved the soft-porn interlude where a dancer pretended to eat her out. Next came "Bad Kids" - one of the best jams from Born This Way - and I started warming up to concert. But alas the closet Loli Lux fan decided to give us a lecture on homosexuality, including the incredibly offensive pearl of wisdom "you don't have to be a cunt to be gay". Excuse me? What kind of stereotypical shit is that? More importantly - who nominated this bitch to be a spokeswoman for the gay community? Is she bi, transgender or a lesbian? Has she had to go through the torture of coming out? No wonder little monsters have a higher suicide rate than unemployed Korean businessmen. She doesn't have a fucking clue what she's talking about.

Speaking of Lady Gaga's growing number of dead fans, the next cringe-worthy moment was a stripped-back ballad version of "Hair" dedicated to the recently departed. I love "Hair". It should have been the album's lead single. It's a brilliant pop song but it's not a fitting tribute - at least lyrically - and I felt genuinely uncomfortable when the bossy singer demanded everyone join her in a prayer. She even got shitty when people refused to take part. Gaga has built her career on preaching acceptance but I guess it doesn't extend to the non-religious. The "Hair" debacle was followed by "You And I". I don't particularly like the track but she sounded great and looked amazing playing the keyboard with one leg perched over a dancer's head. She is a scarily talented performer and could be even better if only she would tone down the increasingly boring performance art aspect of her shsow. She doesn't have to be over the top all the time.

"Electric Chapel" is a complete snooze on record and was just as boring live but sounds like a masterpiece in comparison to "Americano". That pretentious mess - performed in the cheapest plastic imitation of her iconic meat dress - was abysmal. The staging was a complete joke too with female dancers being mutilated in giant meat grinders. I'm sure Lady Gaga thinks she's making an important political statement but it just came across as another lame grab for attention. "Poker Face" still sounds great but isn't it time to start playing with the arrangement? It was just the same old thing with the same dance routine as the video. I was over the Born This Way ball by that stage and did something I haven't done in years - I pushed a bunch of monsters aside and left before the end of the show. The prospect of getting home early was more appealing than seeing the end of the concert. Which speaks volumes.

26 comments:

Alex said...

I think the 90's band mentioning and Clueless quoting Lady Gaga would be an altogether better thing to see than how the rest of this show sounds. I might have considered leaving too (if I had been there) but for the fact that it would be money wasted if that were the case... >_>

Me said...

Another FLOP for StefFANNY CRAPalotta! I don't think I will ever cease to be DISCUSTED by that VILE Titless Blunder hypocritically pushing herself as some kind of Gay messiah while using the oh-so fashionable faux-bisexual claims for cheap publicity, and harping on about acceptance of self while dragged up to the max, sticking on fake spikes, acting like something she's not, pretending to be the poopoo and flaunting those runny implants - not to mention encouraging the MONGsters to make fun of the beauty and talent of the highly successful voluptuous Adele and other divas! Such a RANCID creature!

Though with Stinki Garbaj SNATCHING its skanky cheap ass copycat weves, it won't be long before this TURDESS is finally FLUSHED!

Johnny D said...

Mike, I've given you alot of shit before about Beyonce, but you are spot on with this review. I saw the show in Brisbane and was really disappointed. The whole thing looked cheap and tacky, and fell really flat. Quite a few people in Brisbane did the same and left before the encore.

Just like Born This Way the album, nothing seems to gel on Tour.

Henry said...

I was at the same concert, taking four friends who hadn't seen her before. When we walked out we all instantly made comments like 'she was good as long as she wasn't on her soapbox' or 'if she just shut up and sang it would have been great', we should have waited til we got to the car because the little monsters sure gave us some filthy looks.

Most of my frustrations were the same as yours, the setlist was too much of Born This Way and the order was way out, Bad Romance had no spark to it and it was played too early. Aren't we all over her birthing out of her vagina. Nobody seemed to be able to understand the holographic faces and its speeches (I thought it was meant to be good until she shot it), and what the hell is the crap about the GOAT.

JamesF said...

Omg, this review is stunning - you've accurately nailed everything I loathe about Lady Gaga these days (and I OBSESSED over 'The Fame' and 'The Fame Monster'), and you've done it with your usual facetious humour! Deceased at "Speaking of Lady Gaga's growing number of dead fans"...

http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m1d82oguTl1qjgyu4.gif

Trish said...

great review! your summary was really clear and detailed. i feel like i was there myself!

i'm thinking that all the raving i hear about her concerts are due to the clueless monsters. from the sound of things, her shows really aren't that great.

i agree with most of your critiques, but do you really like "hair" that much? i think it's awful! my favourite from the album is "Heavy Metal Lover", but I also love "Bloody Mary" and "Electric Chapel". i think it's because they're so understated compared to her other songs, but i genuinely love them!

oh, and "Lady Gaga really is the second coming for teenage gays and ugly people" LMFAOOOOOOO

plus, props to @Me for his/her consistently HILARIOUS reviews. your comments never get old lmao

Anonymous said...

The first negative review comes from some random hater blog on Blogspot. Oh well.

Blaine T. said...

You already stated previously several times that you hated the Born This Way album, so did you really think you were gonna find hearing all 17 songs of the album live enjoyable? I think you just aimed to amuse your readers with your dry, sarcastic humour rather than give an accurate, unbiased opinion of the show. It reminds of the '90s when all those American music critics who hated every Mariah album and wrote her voice off as having no real emotion, would always go to her tours to review them just to annihilate her. What's the point?

Stick to your Killer Bey and LaToya lurve.. Gaga is not for you and she will not ever speak to you on the level she does to her fanbase. So rather than devalue and mock people she actually connects with, stop giving her your attention.

Anonymous said...

Wait, I am almost 100% positive that Gaga did not give her "you don't have to be a cunt" speech at any of the Sydney shows. That was a one-time thing she did in New Zealand, so it makes me wonder if you're lying about going just so you can trash Gaga.

Everything you said was nothing but vague things that you can see through video. Nothing was specific about your review.

You even insulted the castle, which LITERALLY EVERY SINGLE FAN, NON FAN, AND CRITIC WHO HAS ATTENEDED said they loved and that it looks ten times better in real life.

Me said...

This blog and review are TRASH.

Joey Sauer said...

Yeah that castle was freaking amazing, would hardly have said it looked cheap. It quite literally couldn't get much better unless it was literally made of stone.

I've only recently discovered this blog for with a title like 'Pop Trash Addicts', well, I guess since you don't like it Gaga can't be that 'trashy' after all.

The only thing I'll solidly agree with you upon is the new meat-dress. From 1/3 of the arena back I could tell it was plastic.

Anonymous said...

Haters gonna hate

Anonymous said...

The typical review for those who are biased to a concert just to criticize. Series: How to waste money.

Anonymous said...

And here we now have the Little Monsters vapidly attacking - who until now still don't get their Mother Monster's message about love and kindness and respect and all that crap.

Well done Little Monsters! You're all specials!

Anonymous said...

^What he/she said. I trust in Mike.

Anonymous said...

who cares this bitch is breaking the bank and BTWB is headed to be the second highest grossing tour by a female (madonna's stick and sweet tour is first) this is amazing considering shes only been out tech nically for four years
shes laughing her juicy ass to the bank while ur on here hating - but i agree its not as good as the monster ball - what baffles me is that u criticize her willingness to connect to fans - there are no acts like her who are this close to her fans

Anonymous said...

So your Mother Monster is not for us because she will not ever speak to us on the level she does to you? What are you 12?

When can Little Monsters realise that there are actually some people who just want to be entertained? Some are adult enough that don't need special attention. We don’t need to a bleached blonde woman in costumes go on for 15 minutes with self satisfying bullshit lectures.

Justin said...

BEST REVIEW EVER! FLUSH THE TURD!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for being honest and not buying into all the hype.I went tonight and i'm glad i wasn't the only one who thought it was the same "i am your leader, worship me' esque material that was already a bit grating the first time. I thought the story telling in the second half was stronger than the first (especially since the whole religious-imagery thing is more of a rip off of Madonna than Born This Way!)

Scott said...

Where did the Gaga freaks come from? THIS SITE IS NOT FOR YOU. And I love that saying the tour has made mountains of cash is supposed to imply it is in any way good.
I was a Gaga fan. I think she can write a great pop tune and is without doubt of brilliant performer, but this show was utter shit. I went from being bored with dull songs, to annoyed with her going through the motions during her older (far better) hits, to angry with her pathetic, boring ranting. I officially fell out of love during this show - which was also offensively expensive (that's how you get yourself a top grossing tour).
I don't think I have ever been more furious leaving a show before. What a waste of my time and money - and her talent.
If she wants me to pay her attention again she's going to need some decent songs, forget the lame outfits and to leave the tired preaching far behind.

Scott said...

PS: "LITERALLY EVERY SINGLE FAN, NON FAN, AND CRITIC WHO HAS ATTENEDED" - think you need to look up "literally".
I co-sign that it looked like something from a 60s Halloween variety show special.

Anonymous said...

"No wonder little monsters have a higher suicide rate than unemployed Korean businessmen. She doesn't have a fucking clue what she's talking about."

Amazing line.

Joey Collins said...

I FIND MYSELF AGREEING WITH LIKE, EVERYTHING ON YOUR BLOG.

Seriously, though. You make so many legitimate points here and on many of your other posts. Thank you for being real.

Anonymous said...


You know, as the maxim goes, details make or break the argument..

Anonymous said...

This review is the biggest load of crap and bullshit i've ever seen. Show is amazing, CD is amazing, and I'm not a HUGE fan. Although, this show convinced me she's really amazing. There IS no better show than the Born this way ball, so GO and see it, it's spectacular and wonderful. You can't dislike it. It's impossible.

Anonymous said...

Mmm... Bad review. The show is shockingly good. The album was amazing too. Gaga is the best performer out there at the moment.