Lady Gaga Rocks Fenway Park
Last night Lady Gaga performed the second of two shows at Fenway Park to a second-straight sold out audience. This is a show I had been looking forward to for several months, though not as much as my wife had been (though apparently not enough to carry a sign that said “I’m goo-goo for Gaga” like I suggested). Let me first point out that I had never been to a concert at Fenway Park before, although I had been to Fenway many times and I am a lifelong Red Sox fan. Our seats were in the Grandstand section, under a roof that served as the upper deck. We did not get there as early as we would have liked (doors opened at 5, we arrived at around 6:45) but we knew we had plenty of time to walk around and get to our seats because Gaga wasn’t going on stage until around 8:30.
Let me preface this part by saying that my wife is a die-hard Lady Gaga fan, has all of her albums and spent several hours doing her hair and makeup (complete with a large black lightning bolt over the right side of her face, reminiscent of Gaga’s look in the ‘Fame’ days) because that’s something that she enjoys doing. I should also mention that she has bright pink and purple hair – my wife, not Gaga. I myself have a bright green and pink goatee, and these looks have elicited a lot of different responses – mostly positive.
We were walking towards our seats when as young woman called after us, we turned and she approached us, asking where our seats were. She was wearing a laminated badge, had a walkie-talkie and we assumed that she was security or maybe someone who worked for the Red Sox who assisted folks to their seats. We were partially correct. She told us that she liked our look (especially the job my wife had done with her hair and makeup) and asked if we’d rather be in the pit next to the stage instead of our seats. Of course we immediately accepted her offer and gradually made our way to the pit, not exactly sure where we were supposed to go, hardly able to believe our luck as we passed the rows upon rows of seats that were placed on the playing surface of the oldest Major League Baseball stadium until we ended up right between the main stage and the multicolored stage from which her piano emerged.
The pit filled up and we anxiously awaited the start of the show, not really knowing what to expect. Her choreographer came onto the stage to tell us that Gaga was working on a film called “A Star is Born” that will be coming out next year, and that the character she would be playing is named “Ally”, and if we wanted to, we could begin chanting that name over and over again as there were microphones placed throughout the stadium and that the producers wanted to use the crowd chant in the film. That was pretty awesome. Then, as the sky darkened and the light began turning on all over the park, a countdown appeared on the screen above her stage, and the crowd went crazy.
To try to describe the visceral reaction that was evoked by the intensity of the music and the power of her performance would be to do it a disservice. I will try to do my best, however, to convey the feelings that I had in response to this incredible performance.
The presence Lady Gaga brings to the stage is massive. She is a larger than life music icon who genuinely loves both her craft and her fans. The actual stage space was broken into several sections that were able to move independently, raised and lowered on hydraulics, and these were incorporated in various ways throughout the show as a way to enhance the dance routines and the LED screen on the front of each section only added to the overall effect.
To me, one of the most impressive parts of the show was the rapid transitions between the many, many outfits she wore throughout the show, each one matched perfectly to the songs performed while wearing them. She would come out in one outfit, remove layers in order to play the next song, and then disappear beneath the stage as that section lowered to obscure her entrance or exit. When she emerged once more her entire ensemble was different and then moved on to the next segment. She seamlessly merged songs from her latest album with music that she’s released for the past ten years and although some of those were abbreviated it took nothing away from any of them.
The highlight of the night came when she explained the meaning behind the name of her latest album, Joanne. She then performed the song while seated on the small stage in the pit in front of her main stage. Because of the somber nature of this particular song, there were no pyrotechnics, no flashing lights or the exuberant dance moves that typified the majority of her performance. At one point she went over to her parents who were just behind the barricade near where my wife and I were situated and held her father’s hand as she sang. Tears streamed down her cheeks from the sheer emotion of the song and the impact it had on her and her family. It was incredible to behold.
She made sure to emphasize that she was the first woman to headline a concert at Fenway Park and use that as part of a speech motivating her fans in the audience, commonly referred to as “Little Monsters” (she herself is “Mama Monster”). She told everyone that if they had a talent and they wanted to be “up here” where she was then the path was through patience in training yourself, honing your craft. Don’t worry about your makeup or how your hair looks. In her words “I’m going to get old, but my voice won’t”. It was a great message and it was combined with her message of love for everyone, acceptance, and inclusion no matter that person’s race, ethnicity, orientation.
Overall, I don’t think this experience could have been any better. The energy from the performers (not just Gaga herself, but from the musicians that played with her and her dancers) was infectious and spread throughout the crowd and each and every person fed upon that energy and it enhanced the experience of the show. I’ve never seen anyone with the stage presence Lady Gaga brought to this show. I’ve tried to articulate it the best that I could, but even the most eloquent of scribes’ words would be like comparing a match to the blaze of the sun. I only hope I could convey the intensity of the emotion that I know I felt standing there. She is not a typical performer – she sings and dances, sure, but there is so much more to her than just the typical pop star persona. She played the guitar, she played the piano. She writes her own songs. She gave credit to other people for bringing out her talent, not just claiming that she did it all on her own. She brought her parents to the show in order to share a moment with her father and to wish her mother a happy birthday. She bared her soul in talking about her acting teacher who passed away Friday night before the first show. She emboldened people to be more than they think they can be. She encouraged people to learn, to heed their teachers, to contribute positively to society. It was more than just a simple show; it was an experience that I strongly recommend. You will leave the show a changed person, and you will experience an emotional resonance that reverberates through your soul.
It was something I will carry with me the rest of my life.
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