From the moment that Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta burst into our consciousness a decade ago, it was obvious that the artist known as Lady Gaga was built for a Las Vegas residency. That prophecy was fulfilled when the 32-year-old debuted “Enigma” at the Park MGM resort’s Park Theater on Friday, Dec. 28.
Gaga served a capacity crowd of 5,200 – which included Katy Perry, Dave Grohl, Regina King, Jeremy Renner, Orlando Bloom and Adam Lambert – an absolutely delicious smorgasbord of pop music, performance art and fantastic futurism during her 90-minute set that kicked off in true Gaga fashion.
With her “Little Monsters” going wild in anticipation of her entrance on stage, Gaga instead emerged high above the crowd in a mirrorball catsuit, keytar in hand, and descended from the sky performing her high octane 2008 smash “Just Dance.”
The spectacle of Gaga gliding through the air was jaw-dropping, but also exactly why the A Star is Born actress is deserving of her spot in pop culture hierarchy. From there, Gaga exploded into raucous performances of “Poker Face” and “LoveGame” as she graced the futuristic stage set flanked by dancers adorned in metallic outfits.
“Enigma” is a full theatrical production with an overarching theme of Lady Gaga seeking to find her inner voice in a narrative that is part Wizard of Oz and part Ghost in the Shell as Gaga interacted with an artificial lifeform known as “Enigma” on the oversized screens. “Enigma” may be quite familiar to her fans as it appears to be an updated version of the PetGa character that was used to promote Gaga’s 2013 ARTPOP album.
The interactions between the two were campy but Enigma served as a tour guide of sorts as Gaga sought to find her way out of this simulation she’s trapped in by finding her inner voice. It’s ridiculous in an affectionate way but also on par with Gaga’s performance art style.
After a brief introduction, Gaga tore through fan favorites including “The Fame,” “Applause,” “Paparazzi,” “Judas,” and “Government Hooker” while barking expletive-laced directions to the crowd (“Get the f–k up! Get up and f—–g dance!”). But the spectacle of these performances was worth every dollar (tickets on the secondary market went for no less than $600 for general admission prior to showtime).
From Gaga commandeering a giant robot while performing “Scheiße” and flying over the crowd in an escape pod for “Paparazzi” to her hunched over behind a piano with metallic wings sprouting from its base on “Million Reasons,” the set pieces were just as grandiose and over-the-top as the performances themselves.
And the outfits (oh, the outfits!) were outrageously unique. With her longtime fashion collaborator Nicola Formichetti and her sister Natali Germanotta joining forces, the duo spawned a number of creative looks –ranging from florescent and leather to a body suit with flashing LED lights and a nude-colored unitard– for Gaga, the dancers and her band that would have made David Bowie proud. Speaking of, Gaga’s cover of Bowie and Nine Inch Nails’ “I’m Afraid of Americans” was magnificent and felt incredibly appropriate for this show.
As over-the-top as the show was, it was the more somber moments that stood out and gave insight to her separate Vegas show titled “Lady Gaga Jazz & Piano,” which will feature stripped down versions of Gaga’s hits. With Gaga’s journey to finding her inner voice coming to a close, the singer got behind the piano for her first public performance of “Shallow.”
The futurama and metallic glitz gave way to real passion as Gaga wore her emotions on her sleeve before delivering the stirring performance of the hit song from A Star Is Born.
“For a really long time I felt so misunderstood about the way I dressed, the way I talked, my attitude,” she said, dressed only in an oversized vintage Lady Gaga t-shirt. “They thought it was shallow. I’m so proud to be this far, but the truth is, you gave birth to me.”
As she closed the first of her 26 dates to a rousing ovation, it was obvious that Gaga was more than comfortable on the Vegas stage where many all-time greats cut their teeth. Simply put, she was born to do this.
Dance in the Dark
Beautiful, Dirty, Rich
I’m Afraid of Americans
The Edge of Glory
Yoü and I
Born This Way