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Little Monsters go gaga for Gaga

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Thursday night's spectacle at the MTS Centre might have been light on zany outfits, but you have to hand it to her: Lady Gaga is a consummate showwoman who gives her Little Monsters exactly what they want.

Unless, that is, they wanted to hear something off of a record that isn't Artpop. Then maybe not.

No matter. If the crowd was at all disappointed, it didn't show it. Taking her place onstage at 9:20 p.m. in front of a legion of adoring imitators in sky-high shoes and a rainbow of wigs, Mother Monster stomped the stage clad in a glittery bodysuit and flanked by an army of backup dancers, marching out four club-throbbers from her much-maligned third album and inspiration for her current ArtRave tour.

Lady Gaga clearly doesn't care what haters have to say about her latest effort; she plays Artpop almost in its entirety on this tour, save for the ballad Dope (regrettably; it's beautiful)and Jewels N' Drugs (mercifully; it'sterrible).

She kicked things of with a breathless four-song suite that included the title track, G.U.Y., Donatella and Fashion!

"It's much better to look good on the inside than the outside," she said, the first of many motivational platitudes of the night.

Indeed, the pace of the show was relentless; no one could say they were bored.

She ditched the bodysuit to embody Botticelli's Venus -- complete with mermaid hair and a seashell bikini -- for the Bowie-meets-Abba opus Venus, one of Artpop's better songs.

The stage itself was massive with multiple catwalks and the staging was a bit disorienting; it was very easy to lose track of the diminutive pop star.

Still, the show's theatrics never eclipsed her massive voice, which sounded rich and full. It reached the rafters, despite being anchored by a feel-it-in-your-sternum bass and drum section.

She gave a nod to her back catalogue, playing a mid-set quasi medley of Just Dance, Poker Face and Telephone, before donning a pink-and-blue, squid-like monstrosity --you'll have to conjure a mental image. Mother Monster doesn't allow professional photography at her shows -- for a beautiful rendition of early hit Paparazzi and an athletic version of Do What U Want.

Gaga then sat down to the piano for a stripped-down piano version of Born This Way. Maria Aragon didn't join her onstage this time, but another fan did, tearful at the opportunity.

She reclined on a hot pink bed for Sexxx Dreams, clad in black leather pants and sports bra combo with a green wig (pretty tame for Gaga). Mary Jane Holland and Alejandro -- B-side material at best -- followed, bringing with them the night's first dip in energy.

All eyes were on her, though, when she did a choreographed costume change onstage -- complete with a glimpse of bare Gaga bum. Her stagehands helped her into a florescent J-pop-inspired costume for a fists-in-the-air performance of Bad Romance.

Artpop single Applause proved to be a crowd pleaser, even getting the nosebleed section on its feet. She put the rave in Artrave with the raunchy Swine, which came with the night's most frenetic light show and choreography. Props to the tireless dancers.

Looking like Judy Jetson on her wedding day, she took to the piano for the show's big closer, Gypsy.

Born This Way was the only track she played from her best album, 2011's release of the same name. There was no Edge of Glory, You and I or Marry The Night -- estimable, arena-worthy anthems whose absences were felt. Still, Lady Gaga got the applause she lives for. And the applause she earned.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 23, 2014 A14

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