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What do Fenway Park concert goers love? Rock and country. And Lady Gaga manages to bring both in her Joanne Tour, all wrapped in a neat pop package.
With an undeniable rock n’ roll attitude, including black leather fringe, blue hair dye, and video interludes with middle fingers held high, Lady Gaga also mixes in a hefty dose of rhinestones, a pink cowboy hat, and red cowboy boots. There are pyrotechnics, there are dancers, there’s a live band—something for everyone.
But what makes Lady Gaga so remarkable in concert is her ability to be fierce yet fiercely vulnerable at the same time. Unlike the woman who arrived to the 2011 Grammy Awards encased in an egg, 2017’s Lady Gaga is raw and relatable. After getting the stadium on its feet with ‘Sheise’, dedicating it to the girls and declaring that “it’s all the bullshit that makes us stronger,” Gaga switches gears and sits center stage at a see-through piano to sing an acoustic version of ‘Edge of Glory’ intermixed with the tear-jerking story of how she lost her crew member and friend to cancer this past year.
Lady Gaga is the first female performer to headline at Fenway Park—and she’s doing it for not one night but two.
“I’m so honored,” she says, “But at the same time I’m so sorry you all had to wait 100 years.”
Not only is she a role model for her female audience, she also preaches inclusiveness, taking the time out of her show to make her LGBTQ+ members feel welcome. It’s impossible not to feel endeared (she even refers to herself as “mama”), and although she leaves politics out of her monologue, everything she says feels timely.
Seeing her perform old hits like ‘LoveGame’, ‘Poker Face’, and ‘Just Dance’ is a reminder that—despite her departure into something more rock and more dark with ‘Joanne’—pop is where she excels. These are the tracks that keep the whole park enraptured, while newer tracks like ‘Come to Mama’ and ‘Angel Down’ just don’t have the same effect.
However, when she explained how producer Mark Ronson asked her what kind of sound she wanted to leave on this earth while making ‘Joanne’, Gaga’s personal story of what she calls “inter-generational grief” (when a long ago family tragedy still haunts you) helps you better understand where this latest album came from. She discusses her drinking and drug habits and a lifetime of fighting depression.
“The pain has one name,” she says, “And that’s Joanne.”
Overall, Lady Gaga’s Joanne Tour is an intensely entertaining emotional roller coaster that leaves you feeling a newfound sort of connection with her as an artist. She is undeniably one of the best entertainers alive today, able to not only sing and dance but also play guitar, keytar, and piano. Her backup dancers and live band make for an almost never empty stage, even when she disappears to change into yet another elaborat costume—although the show lost a little bit of its magic when these frequent wardrobe changes took minutes instead of seconds with unfortunately long video interludes, and the cove-like shape of the stage didn’t offer the best side views when placed in a baseball diamond.