If Brit Brit is still the reigning Pop Princess, Lady Gaga is her rebellious little sister.
At 24, Lady Gaga has sold more than 15 million albums and 51 million singles worldwide and tapped into the mainstream and gay and lesbian communities while scoring several top 10 singles.
All this with only two albums, both released in the past two years.
Last night, Lady Gaga's sold-out Monster Ball tour, a tantalizingly trashy two-hour spectacle of outrageous costumes, sexually charged dances and irresistible dance pop, rolled into Washington's Verizon Center.
The live band was tight, but the costumes were tighter ...
Lady Gaga champions the gay rights movement and encourages fans to celebrate themselves for who they are. It's a positive message in a polarized nation. Last night, she laid it all out there, over and over again.
"I didn't use to be brave," she said. "In fact, I wasn't very brave at all. But you have made me brave, little monsters, so I'm going to be brave for you."
Gaga's passion for equal rights was genuine and heartfelt (she even seemed on the verge of tears a couple times), but she brought it up after every other song. That was my only real complaint with the show -- Gaga got a little heavy-handed and repetitive with her message, which slowed things down. Otherwise, it was one hell of a show.
When the screen lifted, there was Lady Gaga, in all her glory (and not much else): a skin-tight leopard print leotard and black boots. It was the first in a series of bizarre outfits, which ranged from spark-shooting bra and thong to a flowing white fairy dress with a long train and a motorized headpiece. My personal favorite was the leather cape and getup which looked like Darth Vader at Mardi Gras.
While Gaga swapped outfits, surrealistic videos (one of Gaga eating a bloody human heart, another of a model vomiting sparkly blue liquid on Gaga) played on the video screens. Yum!
The set, which changed several times, included a beat up car with a keyboard under its hood (Gaga played it), film noir-ish neon signs, a giant angler fish puppet, fountain and a flaming statue and piano, among other affects. Lady Gaga tickled the ivories for two ballads, "Speechless" and a hard-edged new song called "You and I."
Lady Gaga's first hit, "Just Dance," came a few songs into the set. The show was back-loaded with her more recent singles "Alejandro," "Poker Face" and "Bad Romance." She's had so many singles in such a short time, its hard to keep track of them all.
Live, the pulsing beat of "Telephone" throbbed with fresh intensity, and the scorching synth hook of "LoveGame" had fists pumping. Though Lady Gaga isn't as talented a dancer as, say, Britney Spears, her singing and crew of skilled backup dancers carried the night.
Lady Gaga's guitarist, Jesus, was a shirtless, musclebound guy with long locks and a penchant for shredding. All he ever did was fire off wailing solos with lots of notes. But at a show like this one, would you expect any less?
The show started at 9:20 p.m. and ended at 11:30 p.m.
Here is the set list:
Dance in the Dark
Glitter and Grease
Beautiful Dirty Rich
Boys Boys Boys
You and I (new song)
So Happy I Could Die
(Baltimore Sun photos by Gene Sweeney Jr.)