Lady Gaga @ Rogers Arena 1/8/17
Lady Gaga’s Joanne World Tour kicked off last night (Aug 1) at Rogers Arena to a packed house of shrieking, dancing devotees. The crowd was a mixed bag of cowboy hats and glam-rock gender-bending ensembles all mixed together in a blend of pure love.
Taking the stage just after 9 pm, Gaga opened with a rousing chorus of country/rock hit “Diamond Heart”. Twirling the microphone stand like a lover in a hoedown, Gaga drew the packed room to their feet. Shifting into “A-Yo” after a brief “I’m so happy to be here tonight”, Gaga kept the energy up as she hopped on her guitar.
The new stuff was great and the crowd was loving it, but it was old favorites like “Poker Face” and “Alejandro” that really got the hands in the air and the audience belting out the lyrics. The old familiar pop Gaga bloomed over and over throughout the evening to reveal a quieter, more country Gaga nestled inside, in much the same way as the overhead screens bloomed repeatedly to reveal bridges that allowed Gaga and her troupe to drift over the crowd.
Though the cowboy hats were new, the costumes were all Gaga. Sheer lace, bold colors and constant changes dominated the evening. It was home, but it was also something else. When things slowed down for a gorgeous version of “Born this Way”, Gaga’s voice rang higher and stronger than the rafters. It was easy to see how she’d come to be the Gaga we all know and love—not from clever marketing or money or sheer dumb luck, but by the strength of her beautiful voice.
Following the election of Donald Trump in November, it was widely whispered that Gaga was going to have a few things to say about the Republican president during her performance at the Super Bowl halftime show back in February. But the singer kept things low key and close to her roots, which was exactly how she played it last night. Bending at one point to take a pride flag from a security guard, Gaga waved the flag around, coyly reminding the crowd she had “a lot to say about this issue.” “Everybody’s got to love each other. [We’ve] gotta stop throwing sticks and stones at our brothers and sisters,” she continued, drawing the crowd even closer together. “Anybody here doesn’t believe in equality…come to mama.”
Blasting through hits like “Paparazzi” and “Applause,” Gaga once again sat down with her guitar to address the namesake of her tour. “Joanne’s my middle name, given to me by my parents…after my father’s sister who died in 1974…Everything that made me who I am leads me back home,” she continued, gazing benevolently at the audience. From under the brim of her now famous pink Joanne hat, she went on to say, “I knew that if I wasn’t afraid, I would find my way home, and here I am.”
The evening ended with a rousing chorus of “Million Reasons,” after which Gaga dropped through a trap door, leaving her hat behind like a promise that no matter where she went, she’d always find her way home.