Lady Gaga is doing it all
It may seem odd that Lady Gaga’s tour in support of her latest album, Joanne, begins nearly 10 months after it was released, but the perpetually metamorphosing superstar was at work in another medium. After performing an Emmy-nominated Super Bowl halftime show in February, Gaga set aside time to star opposite Bradley Cooper in a 21st century remake of A Star Is Born. While travel between tour stops in Europe may keep her from being stateside for the film’s tentative Sept. 28 release, the concert tour itself could help make the film a hit and raise her profile to its highest level since she exploded on the pop scene in 2008.
Back then her chameleon-like showbiz persona drew comparisons to Madonna and David Bowie, and she was considerably influenced by Freddie Mercury’s theatrics and Andy Warhol’s attitude toward art. Add Barbra Streisand into that mix and you can get a feel for where Gaga’s career is heading. It’s not just that Streisand starred in the ’70s remake of A Star Is Born. Gaga has increasingly relied more on her voice than her flamboyant image since her 2014 collaboration with Tony Bennett, Cheek to Cheek.
Joanne is titled after her father’s sister, who passed away before she was born and became her muse. The album is a distinct departure from Gaga’s electroclash past, with a stripped-down sound often flavored by country or an early ’70s, Laurel Canyon feel. Without being bathed in high-gloss production excess, her voice becomes a direct conduit for raw emotion and personal expression, most effectively on songs such as “Million Reasons” and “Sinner’s Prayer.” There’s still danceable Gaga anthems (“A-Yo,” “John Wayne”), but Joanne displays the range of Lady Gaga’s vocal artistry like never before.
Gaga has plenty of fun along the way too, such as the channeling of Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets” through “Hey Girl,” a solidarity-celebrating duet with Florence Welch. How she planned to present the new songs live alongside her history of art-pop hits remained under wraps prior to the Aug. 1 tour kick-off in Vancouver. Expectations are high after what she achieved at Super Bowl LI, when she floated down from the roof of Houston’s NRG Stadium and delivered a set that weaved together themes of tolerance, patriotism and unity. Gaga, the pop star who rose to fame by celebrating artifice and visual excess, delivered an authentic antidote to a divisive time.
She also proved she could rock out with Metallica at this year’s Grammys and won critical raves in April for her performance at Coachella, where she debuted her latest single “The Cure.” Gaga revealed, in the July 4 edition of Billboard’s Pop Shop podcast, that the stage for the Joanne World Tour will contrast with everything she’s done before, and provided consolation to fans disappointed by her canceled Dive Bar Tour summer tour dates while hinting at what they could expect at upcoming concerts: “I always tell people, ‘You gotta play a dive bar like an arena, and you play an arena like a dive bar.’”
T-Mobile Arena, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 11, starting at $55.14 plus tax and fee. 888.929.7849