In support of her 2013 album, ARTPOP, Lady Gaga brought her latest tour, artRAVE to the UK, and closed the O2 with her third artRAVE performance on the 26th October 2014. Performing almost every track from ARTPOP as well as plucking from her towering array of hits, Gaga set the O2 alight with ethereal staging, stunning lighting and aesthetics.
With dull supporting acts Breedlove and Lady Starlight, it was the energy and buzz of the dedicated, diehard fans that kept The O2 alive. After the stadium teasing us with the word ‘artRAVE’ for a while, Gaga rose on time from below the front stage to the sound of the otherworldly ‘ARTPOP’ beat where the crowd erupted with applause. The global singer-songwriter slowly made her way to the end of one of her extended stages, through lucite runways which ensured fans anywhere in the standing area could get up close and personal.
From ‘ARTPOP’, the singer slickly began ‘G.U.Y.’, urging the audience to get up and dance and not “waste your money”. Following this she sung ‘Donatella’ before having her first (extremely quick) quick change, where she arrived on stage sporting her most iconic ARTPOP look: a seashell bikini and garden ‘panty’. With this outfit, she performed ‘Venus’, a mighty crowd-pleaser.
Before carrying on with the show, Gaga paused and addressed the audience with motivational words that captured the whole arena as though we were in a small bar with a capacity of 50 people. Her anti-establishment views and her general stand against the “misogynistic” music industry meant a very relevant ‘do what you want’ attitude, where Gaga’s focus on her latest musical endeavour (the blend of art and pop) was to take centre stage. She then broke into ‘MANiCURE’ which had a soft-rock sound in its live version. Gaga then began to belt out the hits, such as ‘Poker Face’ and ‘Paparazzi’ as well as mixing these up with more costume changes, which had intermissions of new material, such as ‘PARTYNAUSEOUS’.
What was the most incredible thing about the spectacle was Gaga’s ability to jump on the piano and lose herself within her incredible musical ability. Performing ‘Dope’, the singer-songwriter’s raw emotion spread around the arena and her authenticity as an artist shone. Gaga, reacting to the mass of things thrown at her on stage, read out an inspirational and emotive letter to then request the couple that wrote the letter to join her on stage, where she serenaded them with ‘Born This Way’, a particularly relevant song for their personal struggles. Not only is Gaga’s connection with her fans so unique and touching within the pop genre, but her ability to make The O2 arena feel like a small gig is astonishing, where the thousands of people that surround you melt away.
Gaga then performed many songs across all albums including ‘Judas’ and ‘Alejandro’, before continuing with more ARTPOP tracks such as ‘Sexxx Dreams’ and ‘Mary Jane Holland’, where she donned some white chairs during the latter’s performance as part of her endeavour to place art onto the commodity. Gaga also performed her rendition of ‘Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)’ taken from her number one album with Tony Bennett, Cheek to Cheek, before getting changed on stage, further executing her game-changing approach to live performances.
With her set drawing to a close, Gaga performed the hits ‘Bad Romance’ and ‘Applause’, before creating mania and selecting a few lucky Monsters to perform on stage with her for ‘Swine’. She returned to the stage for her encore, where she performed ‘Gyspy’, with the lighting and dancers stripped back, purely singing at the piano, stunning the audience with her vocals once again.
With one of the most astonishingly large and diverse set lists, the artRAVE constantly fluctuated emotions, but throughout the whole gig, utter admiration was felt for an artist who gives so much, spreads so much love and creativity, but constantly is bogged down with negativity from the media. With an arena full for its third night, the rhetoric of ‘flop’ that has surrounded the ARTPOP movement proved utterly false and, once again, Lady Gaga has delivered, where she will forever have an army of devoted fans that appreciate her difference, her artistic endeavours, her innovative ideas and her ability to really sing. Lady Gaga still wears the crown as Queen of Pop with many prosperous years to come.