Getty Images/Kevin Mazur
Lady Gaga performing in Vancouver.
Prior to the start of Lady Gaga’s performance last night at the Q, ten minutes ticked away on a giant, glowing digital clock. By those last few seconds, the packed Q was vibrating with screams. Then, there she was, all black leather and big blonde hair, opening the Joanne World Tour concert with “Diamond Heart.”
Fans could be seen holding up signs reading “We heart you Mother Monster” as Gaga went into “A-YO.” “Oh baby, I love you too,” she cooed to her “little monsters,” as her fans are known. She froze on stage, allowing the crowd to lavish her with cheers and screams for what started to feel like an absurdly long time. She unfroze to perform “Poker Face” on a stage that tilted back and forth and up and down like an oversized see-saw.
Gaga’s live band continued to back her up as she performed “Perfect Illusion” while three cocoon-shaped blimp orbs that had been hovering over the crowd became ever more menacing. As she sang “John Wayne,” everything seemed ablaze. And then, suddenly, we were all in a German sex dungeon, as things got really dark and freaky for “Scheibe.” Gaga commanded “Dance, motherfuckers!” as she stomped her sky-high boots like an angry European leather daddy.
Liquid figures of shirtless men melted on the screen behind Gaga during “Alejandro.” She disappeared backstage to reemerge in a powder blue long-sleeve leotard with pointy shoulders adorned with bulbous shiny pearls. During “Just Dance,” she again scolded fans sitting down to get on their feet and dance. “This is a party, people. Be polite.” A dancer handed her a large magic wand with an enormous metal silver star on top during “Love Game” as she sang, “I wanna take a ride on your disco stick.”
And then, everything changed. The ceiling orbs descended and morphed into a disjointed bridge over the packed floor of the arena. Gaga was on the move. What had started as a traditional one stage concert had become a living, breathing, interactive spectacle. Gaga and her dancers made their way to a second stage at the back on the arena, 1960s flower patterns spinning all around the screens on the bridges. Her dancers were dressed in long, flowing kimono robes with the same flower power patterns. She sang "Applause" while walking over the bridges and ended the song on the second stage, where a holographic piano waited for her.
Gaga took a seat behind the piano. She told everyone that her grandmother was there tonight in the crowd. A spotlight gave away her location, and she looked up at Gaga from the side of the back stage. She then dedicated the next song to her grandmother and her late grandfather. She let everyone know how much she admires her grandmother’s strength, especially after her grandfather’s passing. She then played the piano while singing a slow version of "Edge of Glory," tears in her eyes as she kept looking back to her grandmother as she sang.
During "Born This Way," her dancers circled her and dressed her in a poofy long white skirt that looked like the bottom half of a wedding gown. The white hot spotlight shone on her, and the white skirt made it appear as if she were glowing like the Good Witch from Wizard of Oz
as she reminded everyone, “Don’t be a drag, just be a queen” as she twirled and danced, belting out her equality anthem. Then, it was back over the bridges for another costume change. Gaga reappeared on the main stage dressed in blood red, a stark contrast to her previous angelic white. It was sex dungeon time again for "Bloody Mary," the dark thumps of the gory track transporting everyone to the depths of Gaga’s dark side.
Gaga was back on the bridges again to perform "Paparazzi" above the crowd. She crawled, thrusted, and slithered at the end of a bridge, then bizarrely was dragged away by a male dancer and appeared to be beaten as ambulance noises blared. Were we to understand the Paparazzi had killed her? It was unclear, but then Gaga appeared again in white again to sing "Angel Down" in a cowboy hat, perhaps as a resurrected angel herself.
She then took a seat with a guitar on her lap on the bridge, crossed her legs and told us all who Joanne was and what she meant to her. In a very personal moment, she explained Joanne was her father’s sister who had passed away in 1974 from lupus. She now understood that this pain had caused a lot of her father’s anger that she was never able to understand when she was a child. She said we all have “intergenerational pain” that affects all our lives, and then she performed the track "Joanne," saying the lyrics are what she thinks her father would have liked to say to his sister if he was able to say goodbye to her.
She then cranked it up to dance party mode again with her smash hit "Bad Romance," pouring her guts out on the main stage, which see-sawed again as she and her dancers gave a performance worthy of a primetime award show. She closed the night on with a beautiful, haunting version of her ballad "Million Reasons."