Lady Gaga @ NIA, Birmingham – 15 October 2014

So, a late opportunity to review a lesser known pop star in Birmingham. It’ll be a bit of a quiet night then. Or maybe not. This particular pop star has 67 MILLION likes on Facebook. And over 40 MILLION followers on Twitter. She’s sold over 27 MILLION albums and 125 MILLION singles. And this particular tour has already nearly sold 4 MILLION tickets. That’s a lot of MILLIONS. Popular girl then, Ms Germanotta – or as most of us know her – Lady Gaga.

Lady Gaga Image
Tonight we’re at the first night of her #artRAVE: ARTPOP Ball Tour – and as we make our way in to the National Indoor (soon to be Barclaycard) Arena, known locally as the NIA, we can look forward to queuing. It’s a tad chaotic – and punters are getting a tad wet – those who have made the effort to dress up are looking a tad soggy. Hopefully this will all be sorted for the official opening of the ‘new’ arena courtesy of Mr. Bublé.

As we take out seat the lights are down, the stage not only at the end of the arena, snakes into the centre of the crowd, is lit bright pink – and full on dance, trace, bass beats are pumping out of the speakers, getting the adoring fans in the mood.

Slightly later than anticipated the huge curtain is pulled back, the crowd scream, dancers, semi-clade in African inspired rainbow, rasta-mix bring balloons and glowsticks and throw them in the audience. And Gaga rises from the floor, dress in gold, blonde wig and furry angel wings. The scream from the crowd is huge. ARTPOP starts the show – “Birmingham” she shouts – scream go the crowd. And as she walks across the ramps to the centre of the arena – a thousand phones capture the moment.

Gaga’s set is full on energy, she’s dancing, she’s jumping, she’s singing with her crew of dancers. Yes there’s a lot of choreography,and she continually shouts at the audience to c’mon and jump… “turn the f****** music up – I want to see you on your feet!” The language is expletive ridden. ‘Donatella’ we’re in fashionesta baby – the dancers prowl – she wants us to dance, put our hands in the air, the higher the better so she can see everyone of the 13,500 fans that have turned out tonight.

Disappearing under the stage, she re-appears in full Beyoncé big hair wig and tiny spangly bikini. “Celebrate your talent and creativity… and crazy dreams can come true….” she encourages. ‘Venus’ gives us dancers and sining and lasers and inflatable plants. Yes plants – that’s what I think they are? She loves her fans so much she has another tattoo – of fans hands on her back – she shows us. As a mark of loyalty to her fans to allow her to achieve what she has done as a woman, in this age. She declares that over the past six years that we have given birth to the greatest fan base on the planet.  She preaches equality – that is her mantra – and the artistic freedoms of pop – “I will not be told how to dress, what songs to record…..if you make art tonight your are an artist.”

And this is between the full on dance and singing routines – the music at times is more than pop, it’s rock, it’s trance – whatever – the fans are partying. And a segment of dancing that includes hit ‘Poker Face’.

For ‘Paparazzi’ she reappears on stage in a Dalmatian spotted, curvy Tim Burton-esque swirl creation – and as she does on every costume change – the additions are taken away within a song to a bikini, leotard, minimal dress. There a Union Jack on stage and she picks it up and dances her way to the ice piano in the middle of the auditorium. This is just GaGa and piano. And this stripped back GaGa demonstrates what a talented Lady she indeed is – powerful vocals (which on single releases you don’t necessarily hear) on ‘Dope’ – a ballad about alcohol and drugs – she stops and talks. When she’s not drunk or a mess she’s soberish she quips. ‘Dope’ is an apology to everyone, but after she wrote it she found it was an apology to herself.

“You and I’ is about what we’ve given her over the last six years; the band is back out and in the middle of the hall. The track rocks out – it’s pretty heavy. She dancing and ends up collapsing on the stage – covered by the Union Jack.  After a couple of minutes, fans screaming with delight, she rises and walks to a piano picking up a letter. Reading the letter out aloud, it’s quite long, relates the life of a boy, isolated whilst young, brave enough to come out as gay and he’s here tonight, with his boyfriend. Gaga chokes as she reads it. He’d expected the letter to be read after the show, he’s a massive fan, she’s an inspiration. “Ha!Ha!” she laughs and invites Jason to come on stage with his boyfriend. “This kid has balls of steel.” As they sit beside her, she dedicates this song to him and his parents (who are also here tonight). A piano rendition and vocals alone of ‘Born This Way’ – impressive. Gaga is a well know gay activist – “If you are gay – hold your head up proud.”

And we’re back to the dance and the craziness.

Lady Gaga, yes put’s on a hell of a show. There’s dancing and partying and crazy clothes and just craziness – everything that you would anticipate from a Gaga gig. But may what sets her apart is the engagement with her fans. They are first, they are her priority. The set is designed so she’s in the middle of them, she’s continually crouching down to shake hands – she’s chatty and engaging, yeah kooky, but she has the ability to relate. And the audience tonight – a wide range of people, old and young, gay and straight, such a diversity. And the standard-out is Gaga stripped back – just her, singing and her piano. The OTT of everything else is just a front for her wacky creative mind.

ARTPOP is Music Fashion Dance Party. Indeed.  This Birmingham show was the first in her tour of the UK – if your missed the party, check it out on the next few dates – and she’ll be back at the NIA on 13 Nov 14…


Just Dance / Poker Face / Telephone
Do What U want
You and I
Born This Way
The Edge of Glory
Judas / Aura
Sexxx Dreams
Mary Jane Holland
Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)
Bad Romance


Review for Altsounds, Gig Junkies and 102.5 The Bridge.