Home 2017-08-14T12:34:51+00:00


Lady Gaga took the stage at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Friday, August 11, to perform her sixth date of the Joanne World Tour. Meanwhile, on the other side of the country in Charlottesville, Virginia, white supremacists and alt-right groups marched with torches and Nazi flags. The President placed blame “on many sides,” a deplorable statement at best, and prompted a response from the pop star.

“I pray a true leader will rise to expel hatred from America. This is not US! This is Anti-American,” Gaga wrote on Twitter. “I know we are not created to hate each other, but to help & love.” She also asked followers to “tweet positive messages” with the hashtags #BeKind and #ThisIsNotUS. Then, Gaga addressed Trump directly: “too afraid to do the right thing cuz you will lose votes? Doesn’t matter, younger generation has the answer to #BeKind.” Then Mother Monster mobilized her Little Monsters: “Tweet @realDonaldTrump & tell him how you think he could #BeKind and be a better leader.”

Gaga’s mission to spread love and dilute hate was the overarching theme throughout the show. Inspired by her aunt Joanne, Gaga explained to the audience what kind of role her father’s sister played in their family, and the grief she carries from Joanne’s death in 1974 from complications of lupus. There was another angel watching over Gaga that night – her dear friend Sonja Durham. Durham died earlier this year after battling cancer. Those life experiences had a profound effect on Gaga, and she quite literally looked to them for strength throughout the evening, often glancing up into the arena’s rafters.


Gaga kicked off the night with Joanne track “Diamond Heart.” It seemed like an odd opener considering the singer has countless earworms to warm the audience up with, but watching the pop star slip into rock star mode and command the stage on her own was a flagrant reminder she’s a force to be reckoned with. If her powerhouse vocal talent wasn’t a prime example that she’s at the top of her game, Gaga made things clear: “I have written, or co-written, all these songs tonight,” she declared. The statement comes on the heels of a new legal controversy Gaga was recently dragged into that alleges she copied a song from Jennifer Lopez (fake news). The audience roared.

Mother Monster sprinkled most of the Joanne album fan-favorites into the setlist. “Perfect Illusion” and “John Wayne” made an early entrance before she launched into a string of iconic chart-toppers that helped solidify her presence in music, including “Poker Face” “Alejandro,” “Just Dance,” “LoveGame” and “Telephone.” Fans reveled in the nostalgia. Those hits are relatively young, but because they have infiltrated mainstream music so intensely while surviving the evolution into the digital age, they feel beyond their years.

Gaga’s immersive set included massive screens, risers, projection rigs and floating apparatuses that allowed the singer to literally catwalk across the arena and create cozy moments with fans in the back. One of the peaks in the show wasn’t the familiar choreography in “Bad Romance” or the surprising addition of Born This Way banger “Scheiße,” but the moment when Gaga sat down at her gloriously vibrant crystal piano (that beamed rainbow lasers out of it, slay) to connect with the 20,000 in attendance.

“How many of you are a member of the LGBTQ community?,” Gaga asked. “I’m so happy that we’re all here together tonight… Since the beginning of my career I saw in you a spirit of equality that inspired me so much I had to take it everywhere. Cause the truth is everybody’s got to love each other.” She began singing lyrics to Joanne cut “Come To Mama.” “For those of you who are here tonight who are not supportive of the equality movement, I just got one thing to tell you… come to mama.”

One of the brightest glistening gems of the night was Gaga’s stunning ballad rendition of “Edge Of Glory,” but the real highlight was her poetic honesty before singing the album title track.

“I did not know my father’s sister,” she admitted. “Only through many nights at the dinner table with him and my family, my grandparents, when we sat silently worshipping this portrait on the wall of an angel. An angel in our family. What I realized writing Joanne, trying to discover more about myself, discovering my pain, trying to remember things I feel like I’ve forgotten… what I realized is that there’s an inter-generational grief that’s passed on.”

This gleaming revelation didn’t offer the usual pizazz that we’ve come to expect from Mother Monster, but it was consistent with a message Gaga has shared since day one: find freedom in the music.

“What I learned is that that death of my father’s sister – it blasted him and my grandparents so hard long ago that it changed them forever, and that change that happened to them – it was passed on to me,” she continued. “So in this moment, I would just like you to take a second… I’d like you to take yourself back to that time in your life when maybe life blasted you so hard with something so difficult and so challenging that you just can’t fucking remember who you were and how happy you were before it happened.”

Gaga added: “I think about my life before I became famous. I miss it a lot. I wouldn’t trade it for the world – everything I have – but I’ll tell you if I could just take one moment to remember a thing, it’d make it a lot easier, but what I’ve done instead is I decided to put my pain in my heart and in my music and it has one name… and that is Joanne.”

The Joanne Tour had all of the highs you’d expect from an arena show by a seasoned veteran – live vocals, ornate costumes, imaginative set designs and interludes – but it also took the audience on a journey through some of Gaga’s lows. She dared to open the door to her past, and for a second the crowd caught a glimpse of her lurking monsters. Sharing those revealing, scary truths is no easy task. It’s as much a mental burden as it is emotionally liberating, but that’s Lady Gaga. For years, we’ve watched her blossom into a nurturing friend, a loving daughter, a champion for equal rights and an influential recording artist. On Friday, we met a new side to Gaga. She was delicate, brave, self-assured. She was Joanne.