I have to come clean: I am not the hugest Lady Gaga fan.
I can even admit that I don’t deserve the free ticket I got for the first night of her “The Born This Way Ball Tour” last May 21 at the newly-opened SM Arena. I mean, I could have missed it and I would be perfectly okay with it; no regret, no tears, no suicidal feelings. I didn’t even care about where I was supposed to sit (or stand), as long as it’s not the moshpit, because rubbing against sweaty strangers isn’t really my thing.
My ticket was vague. It didn’t say Patron or Upper Box or Lower Box. All I saw was Free Seating, and I swear I kind of died a little when I saw that. Okay, I got the cheapest ticket, the farthest box. I know it’s a free ticket, but had I known about the seating position earlier, I would have just given it to a more deserving Gaga fan.
And so when I got to the SM Arena, I asked one of the security guards how to get to my section, Suite 301, which I couldn’t even find on the seatplan online. He said it was on the third floor, and when I got there, I was pleasantly surprised. It was literally a suite, which I later found out was just one of the many suites that a company could buy for block screenings for a season. It had a couch, a mini-bar (complete with hors d’oeuvres and all sorts of drinks), a comfort room, and a great unobstructed view of the stage. I knew then and there that I would enjoy watching the concert.
A DJ opened for Lady Gaga. He played for about 30 minutes, and the crowd actually looked entertained, basing on all the fist-pumping and jumping they did. After he finished his set, the crowd excitedly chanted, “Ga-ga, Ga-ga, Ga-ga,” and a little before 9pm, the impressive stage—which had the façade of a castle—started beaming purple lights while a machine released some fog. A platoon of people holding flags and guns appeared, and before long, Lady Gaga herself, dressed in a black and silver David Cronenberg-y costume, came out—on top of a black horse, which looked really nervous and agitated. Fortunately for Gaga, it didn’t misbehave and throw her off.
Gaga was singing some song I didn’t know; I think it was from the “Born This Way” album. Thankfully (for me and some other people not familiar with most of the songs from that album), it didn’t take long before she sang something everyone knew: “Born This Way.”
As a semi-fan of Gaga, I have to admit that my favorite parts of the concert would have to be those when she was singing her biggest hits, such as “Judas,” which she performed on top of the castle; “Paparazzi,” the first half of which was sadly “sung” by just her head flashed on the screen; and “Just Dance,” which, of course, had everyone screaming and singing along.
I think a lot of the non-hardcore fans (and those who didn’t really buy the latest album) felt the same way. The good thing is that the lineup was well-thought of; her earlier and bigger hits were placed in between the BTW songs. I know it was the BTW tour, but it just kinda sucks how she didn’t sing some songs that I think the audience would have appreciated more, like “Nothing Else I Can Say,” “Boys, Boys, Boys,” “Paper Gangster,” and even “Fashion.”
In fairness, even when Lady Gaga was performing songs I was hearing for only the first time, I was still entertained, thanks to her costumes. In fact, she had several wardrobe changes—almost a different one for every song. Gaga might have looked like she had given up on color and her thing for outlandish garb, but her wardrobe choices were still impressive. All were standouts and memorable, such as the baby pink origami dress she wore for “Just Dance,” the faux meat dress for “Pokerface,” and a Maria Clara-ish white gown partnered with a headgear that made her look like an alien.
The attention-grabbing singer, as expected, also came prepared with a huge bag of tricks and gimmicks. For example, before performing “Born This Way,” Lady Gaga and her dancers first got “born” via an inflated vajayjay (although it looked like a piece of headless chicken from the supermarket). There was also one number where she sang while standing on a remote-controlled platform that just went around in circles onstage, and a couple of times when she spread her legs in front of her male dancers.
Apart from her talent in coming up with great visuals and shocking people, Lady Gaga also proved other things during the concert. One is that she is a great singer. She may not hit those high notes ala Mariah Carey or do vocal gymnastics the way Christina Aguilera does, but Gaga sure has a powerful voice that she proved she could use the whole duration of the concert—without hiccups.
Another thing she proved was that she is a skilled dancer, who has a great choreographer. This was apparent when she did this “mechanical mouse” dance for “Bad Romance,” a seizure-inspired step for “Born This Way,” and her signature dance routine for “Telephone.”
What she proved the most that night, however, was just how good a talker she is. Whether she’s sincere or not, Gaga sure knows what to say, when to say it, and how to say it. From singing “Ra-ra-Manila” to the tune of “Bad Romance” to saying “Kamusta?” and from thanking the audience for buying a ticket to see her show to getting emotional about religious extremists, Gaga said whatever she wanted—and got a great reaction every time.
There might have been some low moments during the concert, like when she played the guitar while singing this song that nobody seemed to know (basing on how still and reaction-less the audience was from my point of view), but all in all, Lady Gaga’s latest concert in the Philippines (which we hope isn’t the last one) pretty much got the reaction, reception, ticket sales--and attention--it wanted.