Review: Lady Gaga, The 02, Dublin
THOUGH Lady Gaga has ditched the Philip Treacy "bridal eczema" mask she sported at the Brits, there's plenty about the first of her two sell-out dates at The O2 that is ludicrous, eye-popping, and even downright grotesque.
Green vomit, leather bondage gear and a writhing sea monster are some of the highlights of a production in which Gaga appears torn between channelling 'The Wizard of Oz' and starring in her own disco-themed porn movie.
Naturally, the chief special effect is Gaga herself. A live-wire mix of Faye Rae, Gwen Stefani, Marilyn Monroe and the Wicked Witch of the West, she leads her dance troupe through simulated group masturbation, romps around with a flame-thrower clamped to her nipples and bashes out the opening notes of 'Let's Dance' on a piano secreted within the hood of a gothic-green taxi cab.
Britney with a boa constrictor around her neck feels nun-like by comparison.
Still, you can't help suspecting the Monster's Ball budget isn't quite the equal of 23-year-old Stefani Germanotta's artistic vision. Certainly the first part of the performance, where Gaga and her dancers body-pop against a mocked-up New York streetscape resembles an am-dram tilt at the musical 'Rent'. Moreover, her audience interaction is distinctly chilly -- while she refers to fans as 'her little monsters', it's obvious the evening's all about her, not us.
Thank goodness, then, for Gaga's trove of stone-cold brilliant songs. She re-sculpts 'Let's Dance' as Wagnerian uber-pop; delivers 'So Happy I Could Die' in a cocktail dress from a 30-foot high gantry and sings 'Alejandro' -- a fantasy pairing of Gloria Estefan and Marilyn Manson -- cavorting with two male dancers who eventually snog beneath the spotlight.
Reserving her biggest hits for the finale, Gaga ends the concert pounding on the gates of pop nirvana. 'Poker Face' is a such a perfect record that the live version is inevitably flabby by comparison. However, she knocks 'Bad Romance' out of the park, distending the tune into a near-10-minute disco-ball epic.
Gaga is an attention seeker and shameless tweaker of taboos but, as a pop star, nobody could deny her moments of twisted brilliance.