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Concert review: Lady Gaga at DAR Constitution Hall

John-John Williams IV was at last night's Lady Gaga show at DAR Constitution Hall. Here are his thoughts:

Lady Gaga knows how to put on a show -- when she's on stage. Too bad she makes her fans wait an hour and a half for an hour performance with no encore.

That's right: At her DAR Constitution Hall show last night, there was no opening act, an hour-long performance by Lady Gaga and no encore. But like I said, when she's on stage, she's one heck of a performer.

The minute the curtain dropped, revealing Lady Gaga dressed in a geometric, glittery metallic dress with an Anna Wintour blonde and pink bob, she had the crowd's attention.

Gaga launched into her hit single "Paparazzi," working the screaming fans by screaming "D.C." and flashing the middle finger at the end of the song.

It quickly became apparent that Lady Gaga is more than just a shiny pop package. She’s a phenomenal performer with a myriad of tricks up her haute coutured sleeves. She's a great singer, pianist, and showman too: She was tickling the ivories while squatting on the piano bench in heels ...

A little later, Gaga bounced up on top of the bench and bent down to plink a couple notes. She also threw her foot up onto the keys at one point and played some more.

You know Lady Gaga's over-the-top persona has been carefully calculated. And you know she's a bit of a thrill-seeking attention whore. But all that doesn't matter. The girl can flat out sing. She's got raw singing power a la Kelly Clarkson and swagger like Pink.

It's hard to think of a recent dance music artist who has been more successful. And other than Gwen Stefani and Fergie, I can't think of another white songstress who is able to make such a seamless cross-over into hip-hop. (Just ask Kanye West, who she will be touring with this fall.)

Last night, Lady Gaga told the crowd that she was a problem child who has grown into a woman who only wants to make her father proud. She also told the crowd that her father was scheduled to have open heart surgery, a revelation that was really unexpected and well received by the audience, who yelled words of encouragement. 

"You be good to your mom and dad," she later told her fans. (You don't hear that everyday -- especially from a sexed-up pop starlet.)

Lady Gaga also knows where a big chunk of her fan base lies -- with the gays!

Unlike some artists who shy away from the major elephant in the room -- Beyonce for one -- Lady Gaga acknowledges her dedicated fans. During more than one interview I've heard Lady Gaga give shout outs to her same-sex loving followers. And during last night's concert, she dedicated the song "Boys, Boys, Boys" to her gay fans who are "there for me" and "tell me when I suck," she told the audience, which drove them into frenzied cheers.

From the beginning, Lady Gaga wanted her fans to know of her fashionista tendencies. The words "Haus of Gaga" and "Candy Worhol" flashed onto a cloth screen. The videos shown throughout her performance were reminiscent of scenes from an ultra-eccentric fashion show. (Think Jean-Paul Gaultier.)

I was surprised she was as reserved as she was with her outfits. After the MTV Music Video Awards where she had a number of costume changes that included what appeared to be a bird’s nest on her face and homage to the abominable snowman, I expected more of the same. Instead there were only about four real wardrobe changes. Most of them looked like they had been salvaged from the movie "Flash Gordon." (I could have done without her bubble dress. Complete. Disaster.)

I have to admit, when I first saw Lady Gaga perform last summer on an episode of "So You Think You Can Dance," I was convinced that she was simply a studio voice with a manufactured look. I have since rethought my stance on her voice. It’s fantastic by today’s standards. All that she really needs to work on is her timing. A 90-minute wait for an hour-long show is as over-the-top as she is. Maybe a (fashionable) alarm clock might help.

(AP photo)

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