Los Angeles Time - Live Review: GaGa The Monster Ball Tour

Since the tour’s first American date in Boston several weeks ago, when I first saw it, Gaga and her collaborators have made some small but significant changes, perfecting the pacing and execution of many numbers. She’s also worked on her patter, luxuriating in it in ways that made the show feel intimate despite all the bells and whistles, and adding new signature lines about music being free, her fans being sexy and this show being one big act of carnal love.

The Rapunzel-like wig she wore in “Paparazzi” has been replaced by a smaller one that visually links her live performance to the bondage imagery in the film that precedes it. Subtle details seemed to have been fleshed out, like certain poses that evoked Catholic saints or macho hard-rockers. It’s also possible, though, that I missed these details upon first seeing the show. It’s so packed with ideas and images that some are bound to slip by without making a full impact.

GaGa is still working on linking her visions to an underlying narrative. She speaks her messages loud and clear, but the singer and her troupe’s striking choreography didn’t always communicate as clearly. The Nokia’s big screens revealed a little stubble on her underarms and her occasional reliance, while executing difficult moves, on what seemed like a backing track. She’s still balancing the confrontational rocker inside with the fabulous pop star.

At 23, GaGa is just beginning the life’s work she takes so seriously. “This is our first date,” she said to the crowd, “so I may not go all the way.” Then she added an off-color declaration of freedom that shows one way this young modernizer of classic pop themes “works blue.”
But that’s just one color Gaga has in her wardrobe. We have years to see her mix and match, cut and shred and bedazzle more.–Ann Powers

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