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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014

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In Festival Guide

The Lady dazzled her "Little Monsters" in the hour-and-a-half show at the Marcus Amphitheater.

In Festival Guide

A combination of music from Lady Gaga's newest work "Artpop" as well as hits from past albums were included.

In Festival Guide

Theatrics abound in the newest "artrave" show from Lady Gaga.

Milwaukee goes gaga for the Lady


What should one expect from a Lady Gaga concert? Lady Gaga, the lady? Lady Gaga, the spectacle? Lady Gaga, the act?

Well, maybe all of the above. One thing is for sure: Lady Gaga is the leader and her "Little Monsters" are here for the ride with her all the way home.

The Marcus Amphitheater was filled to the top with those who adore her and her music. Her "be yourself" and "everyone is invited" attitude is one that I approve of and hope more – young and old – take to heart.

Known for her theatrical and flamboyant fashion, videos and live performances, this was a different type of performance because it was not an arena show. Her regular "floating" skywalks that usually keep her connected with the crowd were not available at the Marcus Amphitheater, and while it did seem to take a bit for the 18,000-plus people in the crowd to warm up, eventually the "monsters" all came together.

Lady Gaga made reference to those who had spoken against her and said she was not big enough to pack arenas – and here she was, playing an amphitheater, b*itches. She joked about how she grew up going to festivals and this (Summerfest) was a fancy one.

Most would say her show tonight was a fancy one itself. There was no shortage of sequins, wild costumes, clam shells and patent-leather serpent queen costumes. She started off the show in a gold sequin costume with full wings, after all. But even amid all of those theatrics, there is something that makes Lady Gaga so near and dear to her fans – her love.

The show kicked off in true Gaga fashion with a number of her newest songs from "Artpop" before heading into some of her older material and crowd favorites. The "monsters" did become more involved with hits such as "Just Dance" and "Poker Face," especially after some prodding from the Lady to do so – though at times in the beginning, it seemed a bit forced.

After her third costume change, this time to the aforementioned black ensemble, "Paparazzi" had the amphitheater jumping before even heading into "Do What U Want" and some of the best vocals of the night. Whatever you may think of the Lady, she has a stunning voice – she's a powerhouse – even though some of the theatrics may not always show it.

Tucked behind her piano, she brought the crowd to a different place on the track "Born This Way" that has meant so much to her and her fans. The crowd itself seemed entranced at this point, and with good reason.

Her piano solo and the powerful lyrics – the message of being yourself, equality for all and never changing for someone else – was only amplified through the quietness of this stripped down yet stunning solo without all the noise and excitement of the large production show.

The last quarter of the show included fan favorites such as "Alejandro" and "Bad Romance," as well as "Applause." The "monsters" all raved together on "Swine," which included elaborate masks and liquid projected out of them and across the stage.

The inclusion of all of Gaga's past hits does highlight the direction her new work has taken, and maybe not in the best way. Her songwriting skills are tremendous and she is an amazing performer at the ripe age of 28. It's quite possible her artistic direction could change all over again.

Closing out the show, Gaga shared that some may only see her dressed up in wigs and outfits and elaborate shows, but she has dreams and fantasies. Ultimately, she is just a girl who left home with a very big dream – and thanked us, the crowd, for being a part of that.

The encore was another highlighted moment of Gaga stripped down without all the fanfare, the version I enjoyed of her the best tonight, as she led us into "Gypsy" before saying farewell.

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