Review: Lady Gaga leaves Melbourne spellbound and inspired
The world's most famous weirdo, Lady Gaga, had one message for Melbourne tonight - be yourself, no matter what anyone else might say about it.
Lady Gaga @ Rod Laver Arena, 27/06/12 Review: Giselle Nguyen
Lady Gaga's following is akin to a religion. They call themselves her Little Monsters; some of them were at Rod Laver Arena in the freezing cold at 8am to collect their passes to the Monster Pit, allowing them to be as close as possible to their Mother.
Stefani Germanotta knows it too - her stage was decked out with crucifixes and her regular commands were met with automatic responses. "Say my name," she growled at one point. "Show me how much you love me!" There was a distinct feeling that the crowd would do literally anything Gaga said, and to an outsider it may seem a little strange - but after seeing her perform live, it all makes perfect sense.
The Born This Way Ball has been one of the best kept secrets in the world, with very little official information trickling from show to show. It's a good thing, too - without already knowing what was going to happen, the spectacle was even more jaw-dropping and impressive from the very second the curtain fell to reveal a giant, intricate Gothic castle set and Gaga rode out on a horse.
At times it felt as though the music took a back seat to the flurry of activity on stage. It felt almost cinematic, like watching a carefully constructed film unfold in real life - Gaga was magnetic in her ever-changing costumes, from a replica meat dress to tribal gear to alien outfits, her dancers enveloping her in the most dazzling of ways. All eyes were on her as she strode around the arena, her body moving as freely as liquid, commanded at times by a floating, talking head.
There were elements to the performance that certainly weren't family friendly - after bursting through an inflatable vagina, Gaga lay down on a table where one of her male dancers pushed his head between her legs and simulated cunnilingus. And yet what was so perfect about it was that in spite of the overt and sometimes overbearing sexuality on display, she's actually an incredible role model - the theme of the Born This Way Ball is, after all, being true to yourself, and no message burned brighter throughout the night, with even the most alienated crowd members addressed in thoughtful and touching ways.
As for the music, it was often easy to forget that Gaga was in fact backed by a live band - they were hidden in the folds of the castle, so the focus was always solely on her as she powered through the hits, including "Bad Romance", "Telephone" and, going all the way back to the start of her massive career, "Just Dance".
When Gaga took to the stage alone, though, playing a piano strapped to the back of a motorcycle, it was like seeing her through a completely different light. The woman is, after all, a classically trained musician and her voice rang out with so much more purity when she had nothing to hide behind. In an enormous moment for Melbourne's Little Monsters, she performed a new ballad, "Princess Die", for the first time anywhere in the world.
These were the moments when she opened up more to the crowd, wearing the clothes they threw at her and really cultivating the connection, making herself seem more human. As cliche as it was when she pulled up a young girl during her finale performance of "Marry The Night" and told her to follow her dreams - well, let's just say quite a few Kleenexes were pulled out anyway.
It's strange to think that Gaga wasn't really born this way, that she didn't come out fully formed as one of the world's biggest and best pop stars. The Born This Way Ball was a celebration of weirdness, a way of reaching out to the marginalised kids that no one gets to say "hey, I understand".
Say what you will about Gaga, but there aren't many superstars in the world who can sweep across such a wide spectrum and affect so many different people along the way. Are your paws up?