Vancouver's legion of Little Monsters were lucky to witness the sold-out opening night of Mother Monster Lady Gaga's Joanne World Tour at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on August 1st. Details of the tour were kept tightly under wraps up until the evening of the concert, so as the songs, costumes and other production elements were unveiled throughout the two-hour extravaganza, the Canadian Gaga fans saw firsthand the innovative creative vision of pop music's most diverse, dynamic and daring artist unfold during a smash of a monster mash.
Gaga's gratitude towards her fans was shared from the onset and vocalized consistently during the concert, with her thanking her fans for allowing her to sing, dance and perform for them, and for believing in her and support her career over the years. At 31 years young, it's incredible what she's accomplished.
The dance-pop queen's era-spanning, hits loaded setlist was divided up into multiple acts. The first act kicked off with "Diamond Heart," "A-Yo" and "Perfect Illusion" from her latest album, Joanne, before dealing out one of her most popular songs, "Poker Face," The level of presentation she gave made the audience feel like they were experiencing the superstar at the Super Bowl, the Grammys and the Staples Center all at once. From the intricate and mobile stagework and flashy pyrotechnics to the killer choreography, the show was a visual wonder.
The second act included "John Wayne," "Scheiße" and "Alejandro." Gaga introduced the first of many costume changes, which throughout the night showcased stylish shimmering and fringed capes, revealing spandex bodysuits, haute couture outfits and gowns custom designed by the likes of Alexander Wang and Viktor and Rolf, along with accessories such as masquerade masks, boots mades for strutting the stage, sparkly rhinestoned attire, several hats, and of course, the iconic pink hat from Joanne.
Gaga's third act featured throwbacks from her The Fame/The Fame Monster days with the party-friendly "Just Dance," "LoveGame" and "Telephone." With the intensive performances she delivers, it's a marvel that her voice can hold up as strongly as it does amidst the heavy and complex choreography. A lot of credit should be given to Gaga's collective of talented dancers and her outstanding band for keeping up with her with high energy and commanding presence with their own commitment and professionalism.
During the fourth act, Gaga launched into "Applause" and utilized floating bridges to cross over to the circular stages across the floor. This elaborate stage set-up made it possible for the performer to get up close and personal with everyone, no matter where they were situated in the arena. The wild and enthusiastic energy from the crowd was unlike any other witnessed at Rogers Arena for any other modern artist.
One of the most memorable moments of the night was when Gaga raised up a gay pride flag and said a few words about her love and support for the LGBTQ community, which was met by loud cheers from her adoring fans. Gaga then switched gears and sat behind the piano to perform "Come to Mama" and to offer a stunning stripped-down rendition of "The Edge of Glory." She ended this portion of the set with the empowerment anthem "Born This Way," strutting down the catwalk with her troupe of colorful characters. This blending of stage theatrics with intimate vulnerability, where she can go from igniting a dance rave to slowing it down and serenading her audience with a piano-driven ballad, comes so naturally to Gaga in her performances, and it's this fearless experimentation and versatility that makes her shows so fascinating.
Proving that she is pop royalty, Gaga arrived on stage for her next act in a red Alexander McQueen-inspired gown for "Bloody Mary," eventually stripping it down to a red bodysuit for "Dancin' in Circles" and "Paparazzi." Partway through "Paparazzi," Gaga was carried up to an orb contraption up in the rafters of the arena for a quick change, upon which she floated back down to the ground in a folky frock and hat and guitar for "Angel Down" and "Joanne." For "Joanne," the touching tribute to her aunt of the same name who inspired the direction of her latest album, Gaga asked fans to think about a pivotal, life-changing moment in their lives that blasted them to the point where they could not remember who they were before the life-changing event happened. This was just one of many examples of times during the night when she forged a personal connection with her fans by interweaving personal stories of her inspirations between and during the songs.
Gaga winded down the show with one of her biggest hits and a fan favorite, "Bad Romance," and her latest single, "The Cure." She returned for a brief but marvelous encore of "Million Reasons" on the grand piano, showcasing her incredible vocals and leaving her pink hat on the ivory keys before leaving the stage for the last time. It's safe to say that Lady Gaga gave her fans more than a million reasons to love her.
Lady Gaga is currently performing across North America and will be bringing the Joanne World Tour to South America, Europe, and concluding back in North America in Inglewood, California in December 2017. For concert dates, visit ladygaga.com.