Lady Gaga’s Chromatica Ball is a freak show for the ages

Stefani Germanotta remains one of our most thrilling pop stars – as her horror-noir Chromatica Ball proves.

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Lady Gaga is snogging a spiked bondage mask. She’s crying. She’s in a sarcophagus, done up like Ming The Merciless, rotating on a giant Lazy Susan. We are less than five minutes into her astonishing Chromatica Ball: the mother of all parties led by Mother Monster herself. Fans have waited years for this night, made all the more impatient by the release of her fantastically-camp, Europop album, ‘Chromatica’ in May 2020. At a time when lockdowns swept the globe, it was an album begging to be danced to, in a stadium, with pyro and lights, wearing one helluva outfit.

Freaks, tonight’s the night.

Lady Gaga Chromatica Ball London
Photo: Samir Hussein/Getty

The stage is Brutalist, foreboding. Her band could have been rounded up from the Sunset Strip’s rock bars at 2am. Gaga opens with three of the best pop songs of the last twenty years, (‘Bad Romance’, ‘Just Dance’, ‘Poker Face’), breaking free from her iron casing to join her creepy interpretive dance troupe at the front of the stage. Eyes wide, hair slicked back and dropping her three biggest songs in the first 10 minutes: it’s clear she means business.

From here the show is split into three acts, peppered with hits from her 24 years in the spotlight and ‘Chromatica’ songs getting their first outing. Act one sees Gaga laying bloodied on a mortuary slab, legs spread wide. The sex dungeon imagery feels like the perfect time to drop into fan favourite ‘Monster’ about a boy who “ate her heart“. But things don’t stay gruesome for too long, a quick turn and she’s back in oversized eighties shades and a glittery red jacket with sky-high shoulder pads. From American Horror Story to Dynasty in the blink of an eye.

Lady Gaga Chromatica Ball London
Photo: Samir Hussein/Getty

Act II is a ridiculous high: Chromatica’s ‘911’ and ‘Sour Candy’ into “M-m-my” ‘Telephone’, complete with skin-singeing pyro. Gaga is now dripping, head-to-toe in gold lamé, sachaying through the crowd to reach a central platform. Here, she emerges looking like something that crawled out of the shallows, in an alien headdress, to sit at the piano for the Oscar-winning belter. Her voice is flawless.

Lady Gaga Chromatica Ball London
Photo: Samir Hussein/Getty

Dedications to Alexander McQueen, Isabella Blow and Phillip Treacey are a reminder that Gaga is more than a musician. She is an a creative visionary, expressing herself through music, fashion and film. The fact that this woman is also facing a lifelong battle with fibromyalgia – a debilitating, chronic pain disorder that has no known cure – should not go unnoticed. It cut short her ‘Joanne’ tour of 2016. It risked destroying her Super Bowl half-time show. But tonight, Gaga delivers a show for the ages, with impeccable choreography, countless outfit changes and two solid hours of pop bangers.

“I want to look back on these last couple of years and always remember us like this,” she tells a euphoric Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

We couldn’t forget it if we tried.

The Chromatica Ball setlist

Bad Romance

Just Dance


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Poker Face

Chromatica I

Alice


Replay

Monster

Chromatica II

911


Sour Candy

Telephone


LoveGame

Chromatica III


Babylon


Free Woman


Born This Way


Shallow


Always Remember Us This Way

1,000 Doves

Fun Tonight

Enigma


Stupid Love


Rain on Me

Hold My Hand

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Lady Gaga's Chromatica Ball