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October 22, 2017

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Review:

Lady Gaga proves that she’s the ultimate showgirl at MGM Grand

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Barry Brecheisen / WireImage

Lady Gaga performs during her “ArtRave: The ArtPop Ball” tour stop at United Center on Friday, July 11, 2014, in Chicago.

Lady Gaga ‘ArtRave’ Tour

Lady Gaga performs during her “ArtRave: The ArtPop Ball” tour stop at United Center on Friday, July 11, 2014, in Chicago. Launch slideshow »
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Lady Gaga performs during her “ArtRave: The ArtPop Ball” tour stop at United Center on Friday, July 11, 2014, in Chicago.

Click to enlarge photo

Lady Gaga performs during her “ArtRave: The ArtPop Ball” tour stop at United Center on Friday, July 11, 2014, in Chicago.

“I’m like the ultimate showgirl!” a glittering Lady Gaga shouted across the enormous MGM Grand Garden Arena at the 12,000 Las Vegas fans assembled there Saturday night.

It wasn’t the only Las Vegas tribute the New York native turned mega pop star treated the audience to on the Strip. She described coming to Sin City as a girl and being awed by the big lights.

“I didn’t quite know what Girls, Girls, Girls XXX meant yet,” she joked in her characteristically commanding voice. “I found out when I started go-go dancing when I was 18.”

And like the trained showgirl she is, Gaga was the very center of attention during every moment of the first of two Las Vegas shows in her “ArtRave: The ArtPop Ball” tour Saturday night (Gaga returns to MGM Grand Garden on Friday, Aug. 1).

After a lukewarm reception to opener DJ Lady Starlight, who felt weirdly minimalist at her simple turntable compared to the classic excess fans expect from an L.G. show, Gaga entered the scene to an explosion of enthusiasm from the crowd, which ranged from brightly dressed 20-somethings in the standing section to middle-aged folks dancing in their seats in the concourse.

Rising up to the stage on a platform, Gaga met her fans dressed in a sparkling angel costume (complete with elaborate arachnoid angel wings) to the sound of “ArtPop,” the titular song of her 2013 album.

After an energetic rendition of “ArtPop” and then “Donatella” and “Venus,” all accompanied by an EDM-style light system, Gaga spoke to her fans directly. She called the tour the Little Monsters’ “six-year anniversary” and declared the 2008 release of “Just Dance” the “birth of the most authentic fan base on the planet.”

This declaration of authenticity, which Gaga is often criticized for grasping toward but failing to attain, came up over and over again during the show. After taking the crowd through a nostalgic timeline of her rise to fame, from “Just Dance” to “Poker Face” to “Telephone,” Gaga returned to “ArtPop,” an album she insisted that she planned to perform front to back despite mixed critical response.

“Put your phones away,” she directed the Snapchat-eager crowd. “Let’s just be in the moment tonight.”

And most of the arena really was in the moment, drawn into dancing and singing along by a charisma few, if any, performers can rival.

She spent the rest of the night alternating between “ArtPop” tunes and her more popular material from past albums. One of the best moments of the night came when she did a piano rendition of “Born This Way” and reaffirmed what an incredible voice she has.

With its big lights, Las Vegas is the perfect place for Gaga, who danced in front of a giant screen illuminated to look like glitter and constantly shed pieces of her elaborate costumes until she was wearing only showgirl-style leotards and bikinis.

Along the way, she lost angel wings, a shiny leather cover-up and a giant set of giant octopus arms that could have come from a number of Strip shows. The undressing reached a crescendo when Gaga changed her entire outfit onstage.

“I will never be interested in joining your commercial institution!” she shouted while two very serious looking people in suits redressed her.

Is Gaga in on the joke of being dressed by suits while rebelling against the “commercial institution”? Definitely. But what about the rest of it? It can be difficult to believe that there’s sincerity behind her weirdness when it feels as choreographed as her perfectly timed costume changes and omnipresent backup vocals.

Either way, Lady Gaga is an incredible performer who performed a great show Saturday night, and she undeniably has one of the most dedicated fan bases in the business.

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