23 October 2018   |  Last Updated 03-11-2014 04:05

      Monday 27, October 2014

      REVIEW: Lady Gaga's artRAVE

      As Lady Gaga performed her cover of Nancy Sinatra’s Bang Bang at the artRAVE ARTPOP Ball in Manchester, Tony and Toni went to see what the event was all about...

      I half expected to be stumbling around a crowded arena, strobes flashing violently, bass forcing my eardrums to jump out of my external auditory meatus. As it stands, I wasn’t offered any ecstasy, nor was I surrounded by people constantly looking down at the floor, their heads moving in a violently rhythmic fashion. 

      It’s pretty safe to say, as raves go,  artRAVE was distinctively less ravey than the norm; this isn’t a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination. Hallucinations are rather unnecessary when giant sea-anemone-like inflatable structures from outer space are forming triumphantly around you, surrounded by hip-swaying aliens clad in outfits not dissimilar to the ones seen in Space Channel 5.

      You can forgive me for believing artRAVE would be a drug-fuelled stupor. After listening to her fourth album, ARTPOP comes across as a love letter to the dance enthusiast. Almost every song is punctuated by strong bass lines, and the one ballad that isn’t is about dope.  It’s an album, that while underwhelming to many critics, is clearly made to create a stage performance unlike any other.

      ARTPOP didn’t cling to me like The Fame Monster did, and it wasn’t nearly as big a pop event, but after listening to nearly every song on the album live, the entire album is uplifted. The arena is ARTPOP’s natural habitat, and Gaga is it’s natural conveyor.

      Giant sea anemone from Venus wasn’t the weirdest thing I saw at the Phones4U arena that night. There were also shirtless guys dancing in silver pig masks on all fours, a neon-clad Gaga in leg warmers transported straight from the eighties, a circular keyboard clad in ice, a giant purple hand with bright red nails rising above the crowd, a bed whirling across the stage in the middle of a dance interpretation of lesbians going at it, a gay proposal, and a lot of body parts. Gaga, known for her rather unusual outfits was no stranger to showing the odd bum-cheek, or being entirely naked on stage while her troupe geared her up in full view of the audience.

      This all seemed to come naturally to Gaga – this isn’t her first show after all – and her eccentricity seems to have become normality, to the point I seriously imagine her eating breakfast in a mermaid suit.

      Yet some of the best moments were when Gaga showed restraint in her songs.Dope was performed with a slow conviction that highlighted the strength she still carries in her voice and her fingertips, her quiet rendition of Born This Way seemed particularly fitting to the on-stage proposal, and her medley of old-favourites Just Dance/Pokerface/Alejandro left us with an incredibly long set list.

      This contrast of restrained talent and outrageous design ethos made artRAVE more enjoyable than I expected. The crowd particularly enjoyed Gaga’s powerful speeches, addressing fame and artistry in the music industry – although it felt a little hollow. It’s easy to claim that fame and money isn’t important when one is covered in oodles of fame and money.

      The best thing about an evening with Lady Gaga is the same as it was last tour, and the tour before that. It’s a fantastic spectacle of lights, costumes and music that makes her latest album shine. To everyone who is expecting Gaga to give in to expectations, to become an Adele-like piano-led pop singer with emotionally driven songs, that isn’t going to happen any time soon.

      As she put it herself, while half-naked on stage, wearing a wig of neon streamers and a see-through blouse clad with nipple tape; the more people try to make her conform – the more outrageous she wants to be.