The Monster Ball. Liverpool in Pictures

Concert Review: Lady Gaga mesmerises Echo Arena, Liverpool
Soon there was a tube-train ferrying Gaga and Co along and it was not long before a giant UFO appeared to descend from the ceiling. So far, so Gaga. But amidst all the frenetic dancing, mad props and crazy costumes and a pop star whose costumes swung slightly to the left of papal, angelic and even a nun’s habit, were those all-important songs. Smashed together they were – but they were still infuriatingly catchy. For most of the night Liverpool had bolshy Gaga – roaring through tacks including Dance In the Dark, Just Dance and, of course, Poker Face and Paparazzi. This is a woman who can stand on stage, curl her fingers into a claw and watch 10,000 people do the same back at her. But every now and then were hints of the artist who says she "often feels lonely" and invites everyone and anyone to come to her Monster Ball. Apparently, it’s a place where everyone can be the person they want to be. American cheese? Definitely. A bad message for the thousands of impressionable young people in the audience? Possibly not. Still despite the minor diversion to show off her vocal skills on slower numbers like Speechless – Gaga was mostly at her punchy, slightly subversive Madonna-esque best. And while her fans willingly killed off her Fame ‘Monster’ in the pure pantomime finale – this is one artist they won’t want to see disappearing any time soon. HUNDREDS of people across Liverpool will wake up today wondering if the night they spent with Lady Gaga was real – or a crazy hallucination. The 23-year-old pop sensation might well wonder that herself as she threw every ounce of her big-shouldered, leotard-clad talent into her ECHO arena show. New Yorker Gaga is famed in equal measure for her edgy-yet-catchy pop tunes and that eccentric dress sense and she encourages her legions of fans to follow her fashion example. While Liverpool might be more style conscious than most of the cities she has encountered on her Monster Ball World Tour – there were still more than enough fishnet tights and high-cut glittery pants to keep her entertained. "I don’t want you to think I don’t notice," she yelled at one costume-clad reveller as she stretched her leg provocatively on to her flame- throwing piano. "I always notice and we talk about it after the show." Perhaps she did, last night, but for every single soul who danced open-mouthed before her there was just one subject of discussion – Lady Gaga herself. From the moment those crazy shoulder pads first appeared in the huge pink spotlight, this was a Fame Monster on form. The purple leotard was eye-wateringly high as she performed those trademark robotic moves. Then there were the gladiator-clad dancers – including one dashing young man in heels and a thong – and a giant yellow car that, naturally, turned into a piano.

Lady Gaga has a Ball at Liverpool's Echo Arena
SHE’S the woman who slips into a lampshade like the rest of us pops on a pair of jeans. So when Lady Gaga’s Monster’s Ball tour opened last night at the Echo Arena the crowd was wound up for some eye-popping sights. After half an hour delay and a 60 second countdown, Gaga’s distinctive boxy shouldered silhouette appeared on a white canvas drum wrapped around the stage. She struck a pose in a purple leotard and shades - tame by Gaga standards - draped over a black barred frame with neon signs. Dance in the Dark set the remorseless pace. Every seat in the Arena was filled and the third track Just Dance had everyone up out of them. Gaga’s slight figure was often obscured by a scrum of male dancers clad in a changing array of thongs, leather kilts and slashed tops. Audiences sitting to the side may have felt frustrated at not seeing enough of their idol. Vanity introduced a Cabaret feel with her boys doing a can can routine The next number heralded the first costume change into a huge shouldered red cape and mask – like a deranged superhero. She next appeared for the hugely popular Love Game in a white plastic wimple and moulded plastic dress, cue also some X-rated dancing. Next she was in horns and a black feathers and strumming a guitar like a large icicle for Money Honey, then it was into a bikini for Telephone. Accompanying herself on the piano the tempo slowed for a belting rendition of Brown Eyes then Speechless – for her dad who was in the audience she explained. The crowd warmed to her further when, in her little girl Brooklyn tones, she revealed she’d asked her dressing room people about the Liverpool crowd. She was told they’d “rather starve than not buy an outfit to go to my show”. The comment earned a huge cheer. Bashfully she said the show was just her “concept and music”. People might think she was “stupid”, she said, adding she often felt stupid. For a woman in a bikini with her leg up on the keyboard of a piano set on fire she sounded suddenly quite unsure of herself – still an enigma. The production unfolded like a futuristic Wizard of Oz, with Gaga and pals trying to follow the Glitter Way, and blown into strange parts of New York. It was done with a wild sense of theatre. Rumour has it the 23-year-old New Yorker, has spent more money creating the lavish sets and costumes than she’ll take for the tour – and the dizzying scale of changes bore it out. There was the fantastical moving Snow Queen outfit for So Happy I Could Die then a reappearance where she was completely covered with blonde hair. The crowd were well entertained during the breaks but it did sometimes slow the flow of it down. The second half was bizarreness at full pelt. The Arena erupted for her first big hit, Poker Face. Then on stage appeared a huge tentacled monster with illuminated eyes and teeth – “Will you help me kill the monster?” she shouted – for the haunting Paparazzi. The crowd lapped it up. Incredibly it’s only been two years since Stefani Germanotta swept onto the public stage. What will she do next? I can’t wait to find out.

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