Published on September 10th, 2012 | by Nicola Marchant0
TAY Visits… The Born This Way Ball: Twickenham Stadium, London
Lady Gaga and bizarre are two things that will always be synonymous with one another. Her current world tour, The Born This Way Ball reached levels of absurdity even before the global superstar set foot on stage. The £77.00 ticket price for one did well to irk fans – especially when it was announced that her support acts; Lady Starlight and The Darkness, were respectively an unheard of and a group of has-beens who were not even taken seriously at the height of their fame. An embarrassing accompaniment to the biggest name in pop music. But Gaga’s army of ‘little monsters’ are resilient: Saturday’s London tour sold out instantly. Strangely, however, Sunday did not. The previous few weeks in the run up to last night’s stadium event saw ticket prices fall by £20 on official sites such as getmein.com, tickets going for as low as a third of their face value after unenthusiastic Ebay bidding wars, and even offers being advertised on deal site LivingSocial as organisers desperately tried to fill unexpected empty seats.
However, if the singer was feeling the brunt of yesterday’s surprising unpopularity, it went undetected within the walls of the 55,000 capacity Twickenham Stadium. Fans were treated to a powerful 2 hours of everything we have come to expect from this decade’s Queen of Pop: thundering laser effects; neon, cross emblazoned cages; a plethora of magnificent costumes and a giant, alien vagina. The set was a giant castle, whose steps and turrets provided extra stage space along with the circular walls of the ‘monster pit’: a front-stage area especially reserved for dedicated fans who had been queuing outside the stadium since its 8am opening time (needless to say, we were not that dedicated).
Surprisingly for most headliners, Gaga arrived dead on her scheduled time of 8pm – in an armoured bodysuit atop a horse led procession, no less. The majority of the set list was comprised of the Born This Way album, meaning that disappointing fillers like ‘Americano’ and ‘Electric Chapel’ were favoured over stronger, older tracks like ‘Beautiful, Dirty, Rich’ and ‘Dance in the Dark’. Fortunately, big hits ‘Just Dance’, ‘Poker Face’ and ‘Bad Romance’ remained, and each of the total 24 songs were powered through with the kind of glamorous, high octane energy that you can only expect from this decade’s Queen of Pop. The only time Gaga permitted herself and her dance team rest was when she took to her piano – kitted out in a heavy metal motorcycle. This was the part of the show that wasn’t accompanied by visual gimmick – just a starstruck fan who was brought out from the monster pit to accompany the singer. Gaga often cites the piano as her true artistic calling, and as a result it is also the part of her live show that can be the most self indulgent, as she is known to succumb to overlong solos and emotional pretentions regarding her rise to fame.
Fortunately, last night’s piano sector was kept fairly sweet, and to the delight of 55,000 or so Brits, greatly anglophilic: ‘the best artists were from here, weren’t they?’ she mused, before launching into a cover of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’. This spirit was kept alive as she dedicated her new single ‘Princess Die’ to Princess Diana and Amy Winehouse, expressed her regrets for missing the simultaneously occurring Paralympics Closing Ceremony and danced on stage brandishing a giant Union Jack. Despite overly odd, borderline pretentious snippets referencing alien races (G.O.A.T: ‘Government Owned Alien Territory in space’) and the ‘beauty of art’, she lived up to her reputation as the peoples’ artist: this she defiantly proved in her final act by hoisting a further set of fans from the crowd to join her in a closing dance. A spectacular way to end to what has been a spectacular Summer for Britain.
Nicola Marchant – @nicolamarchant