CONCERT REVIEW: Lady Gaga covers gamut of emotions at Truist Park

Lady Gaga is not a woman of subtlety. She is all about grandiose emotions: grief, pain, rage on one end and joy, passion, euphoria on the other.

She brought the gamut to Truist Park on Friday night to a sold-out crowd of her dedicated fans, dubbed “Little Monsters,” in her first concert visit to Atlanta since Philips Arena in 2017.

And the fans themselves added to the spectacle with their own fashion choices. The park, typically home to baseball jerseys, T-shirts and shorts, was awash in leather, glitter, feathers and alarmingly high heels.

Gaga, like many artists, is playing catch-up from the pandemic. This tour was originally scheduled for 2020 to promote her album “Chromatica,” which came out in May of that year. And while this is by definition a concert, it was structured more like a play with a prelude, four acts, a finale and a brief encore.

Visually the stage resembled a German S&M nightclub, all minimalist brutalist architecture. Gaga’s outfits were sufficiently outlandish with sharp angles, alien-like silhouettes, eye-popping masks, gold lamé and plastic-like see-through outfits. Her lips were the deepest of red hues, her eye makeup New Wave ‘80s, her hair bleach blonde. This was not a Katy Perry beach party.

Credit: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Gaga also ensured this was the type of show that would play well for those in the nosebleed fourth-tier seats as well as those in the pit. That meant five monstrous five-story high screens, a dozen writhing back-up dancers, two separate stages, two catwalks and occasional missiles of fire shot up into the sky.

Each “act,” which ran two to five songs, featured video breaks that gave her a chance to change outfits. It also meant the show didn’t always flow evenly but showcased different aspects of the artist and her emotional states.

Vocally, she was flawless. Her ability to dance and contort about while maintaining perfect pitch could almost be taken for granted given how often other artists (you know who you are) shamelessly incorporate lip-syncing to smooth over the rough edges.

The show was also structured in a way that limited spontaneity, meaning the setlist has remained largely the same throughout the tour, which began July 17 in Dusseldorf, Germany, and concludes Sept. 17 in Miami.

After an elongated instrumental buildup, she opened with three of her biggest early hits in a row: “Just Dance,” “Bad Romance” and “Poker Face.” They are a testament to how she barreled into the pop music world in 2008 with originality and spunk.

Credit: SUPRIA KUPPUSWAMY/SPECIAL

Credit: SUPRIA KUPPUSWAMY/SPECIAL

Act 1 featured Gaga splayed out on what appeared to be a slab of concrete, prostrate to the world singing “Alice” seeking a harsh “Wonderland” that Lewis Carroll would certainly appreciate. By Act 2, she hit energy peaks with intense takes of “Telephone” and “LoveGame.” Act 3 was transitional, with Gaga moving from the main stage during “Free Woman” to a piano on a stage in the round where shallow centerfield would be during a Braves game.

We then got the more confessional Gaga, who talked about the tough challenges of recent years, alluding to the pandemic, noting how “it felt dangerous to be together.” Now before 40,000-plus fans rubbing shoulders, “when I look back on our life,” she said, “these shared memories, I want to remember us like this.”

She then dedicated the song “Angel Down,” which was inspired by the death of Trayvon Martin, “to the safety of all people in Georgia. People deserve to be protected and loved.” She then acknowledged the battle over abortion rights in the state and nationwide: “For anybody that can bear children, I just want to sing this one. ... I don’t want to see an angel go down. I wrote this song about America.”

Gaga placed a heavy focus on her “Chromatica” record, playing 10 cuts from that album. The tradeoff: She omitted a few of her most notable hits such as “Alejandro,” “Papparazzi” and “Applause.” And she didn’t end the concert with glorious crowd-pleasers like “Born This Way” or “The Edge of Glory.”

Instead, she chose a song that didn’t ultimately become a hit but was part of the soundtrack of the biggest film of 2022 “Top Gun: Maverick.” Dubbed “Hold My Hand” (and not to be confused with the Hootie & the Blowfish song), it’s hopeful and anthemic, a way to leave fans with positive vibes.

“Be yourself and love who you are and everything will be OK!” she told the crowd before leaving the stage with a dramatic bow.

Credit: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

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