When Laura Corcoran dressed up like a 90s disco nana and headed to Lady Gaga’s #artRAVE at the O2 last night (Thu 23 Oct), she found that for all the bells, whistles and glowsticks, the fizz and crackle of a gig is in the sound.
It was with childish excitement that I trotted off to witness Lady Gaga LIVE in her Artpop Ball (REBRAND ALERT: now #artRAVE). I don’t know what came first, the rebrand (and subsequent trolley-dash round Cyberdog), or Gaga creating an intense, warehouse-style rave of a show, followed by a quick round of official hashtagging.
Now, the only ball I’ve been to is a University one, which did end up more like a rave in a field by 5am (well, on a perfectly-manicured quad, with croissants being handed round, but still). Also, the only rave I’ve ever been to was the end of a University ball, as croissants were being handed round. Clearly, therefore, I’m an authority on the matter, and I feel well-positioned to judge the success of Gaga’s rave spectacular.
It was all heavy electronic synths, strobes, lasers, and more strobes, a shitload of neon and costumes Nichola from the first Big Brother would’ve rocked the shit out of. And then that great bit of the rave where everyone stops what they’re doing to sing an anti-drugs song at a piano made of ice! OK, maybe it wasn’t non-stop rave, but like a well-needed fag break outside, the bits where she sang stripped-down versions of megahits (Born This Way, Edge of Glory) were glorious vocally – and a much-needed respite from the sick beatz.
Yet for all the hedonism (or, from where I was sitting, bottomism), Mother Monster seemed on the defensive: most of her chat consisted either of a bitter tirade against the music industry, edging-towards-clingy “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH – LOVE ME” shtick, yet also screaming (and I mean literally screaming) at us to get up, put our hands up, buy beer and glowsticks and FUCKING DANCE. I’m still not 100% sure if I was at a rave, or being happy-slapped (old-school).
That’s an ice piano, Mother Monster. We said that’s aN ICE piano… ah, forget it.
Overall, it left me a bit cold, and I think that came down to one simple thing: yes, the vocals were live (and incredible) all night, but little else musical was live. Everything but the piano bits had tonnes of backing track and pre-recorded vocals. And though the five-piece band playing along with her were spirited enough, for all the strobes, neon, amazing dancers, crazy costumes, and slick visuals, it turns out the real fizz and crackle of a gig comes down to how it sounds.
It is one hell of a visual feast, however, and I doubt anyone who’s been to a rave before can tell you much about the music that was played… So, if you’re going, make sure you pack your pills and FUCKING DANCE.
A woman of appetite. Director, writer, belter. As seen in @friskynmannish, @HiTopDrop and many a cabaret dive.