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First take: Lady Gaga at Verizon Center

lady gagaLady Gaga wants you to love yourself. (Tracy Woodward/TWP)

By Chris Richards

The biggest jolt in Lady Gaga's retina-dazzling Tuesday night concert at Verizon Center had nothing to do with the array of larger-than-life-frocks that adorned the superstar's teeny-tiny frame.

It came during the crescendo of her chart-topping hit "Telephone" when she commanded her fans -- she calls them "little monsters" -- to tuck their camera phones back into their pockets and get in the moment.

Because despite the spectacle unfolding onstage -- a two-hour affair that included buckets of fake blood, flaming pianos, head-banging harpists, spark-spewing brassieres and plenty of esteem-building speechifying -- Lady Gaga didn't bring her "Monster Ball" tour to Washington to be reduced to a snapshot. She wanted to leave as that encouraging little voice in your head, and peppered her catalog of adeptly-sung megahits with banter about empowerment and acceptance.

"Don't leave loving me more," she urged the capacity crowd, which included hundreds who came dressed as their idol. "Leave loving yourself more."

Having already altered the definition of pop stardom, she's apparently taking a crack at the definition of feel-good music, too.

Were you at the concert? Share your thoughts in the comments below and check Click Track at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday for the full review.

Also, tweet your photos to @washingtonpost or send them to our summer concert gallery. Feel free to send in pictures from past concerts or fan events, too; and see our own Gaga video.

By Chris Richards  |  September 7, 2010; 11:44 PM ET
Categories:  First take  | Tags: Lady Gaga  
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Next: Clicky shuffle: Random songs for Wednesday morning


Great concert - very energetic!

Posted by: StrikeZone | September 8, 2010 1:24 AM | Report abuse

It was an awesome concert! My first Lady Gaga concert and it was a blast.

Posted by: WxDude | September 8, 2010 1:43 AM | Report abuse

I have been to many concerts, but this was over the top. Loved her outfits, and the stage props. Tickets were worth every penny I paid. Also, she performed for 2 hrs, and is so talented, her voice is awesome, and piano/keyboard was unbelievable.

Posted by: normajean333 | September 8, 2010 2:42 AM | Report abuse

I have been to many concerts, but this was over the top. Loved her outfits, and the stage props. Tickets were worth every penny I paid. Also, she performed for 2 hours, and is so talented, her voice is awesome, and piano/keyboard was unbelievable.

Posted by: normajean333 | September 8, 2010 2:44 AM | Report abuse

"Gag" is just another cheaper imitation of Madonna. Gag: Put your clothes back on! The days of the shocking underwear concerts as so trashy and overrated. Nothing to see here, folks...just move on.

Posted by: georgana | September 8, 2010 3:21 AM | Report abuse

"Gag" is just another cheaper imitation of Madonna. Gag: Put your clothes back on! The days of the shocking underwear concerts as so trashy and overrated. Nothing to see here, folks...just move on.
Posted by: georgana | September 8, 2010 3:21 AM
You've obviously never been to one of her shows. She's nothing like Madonna tho' she pays tribute to her and other pop legends. She also wears 15 separate wardrobes, not just 'underwear', in every performance.

As a number of major broadway and theatre critics have ceded, she has a great deal of talent, puts on one of the best shows in the world and is performing a musical which, as one critic put it, Broadway hasn't produced in more than a decade and should be following her example.

Posted by: windrider2 | September 8, 2010 4:12 AM | Report abuse

Most concerts are copyrighted performances and photography is not permitted, although
tolerated. Is the Washington Post not encouraging copyright infringement by asking
people to send in photos and then publishing them? The concert hall is a private venue, not a public street.

Posted by: glenmayne | September 8, 2010 4:30 AM | Report abuse

I remember when music was music and taking off your clothes was taking off your clothes. Sometimes Morrison disrobed to the delight of the police but times have changed.

Is this the age of hedonism? If GaGa passed for high culture then I ask where is culture.

Posted by: davidmweiss1 | September 8, 2010 4:37 AM | Report abuse

She is no Boz Scaggs..James Taylor...that was music...

Posted by: SA-Town | September 8, 2010 5:22 AM | Report abuse

if dems want to raise taxes, gaga's concerts should be the place to start...
over 100 for a seat means they can afford it...

Posted by: DwightCollins | September 8, 2010 5:38 AM | Report abuse

I've already seen Madonna, why would I pay to see her imitator?

Posted by: closg | September 8, 2010 5:44 AM | Report abuse

Keep supporting corporate rock!

Posted by: tristesse27 | September 8, 2010 6:08 AM | Report abuse

Unlike most of the posters above, I was actually at the show. She didn't play any songs back to back, and the constant breaks sapped momentum from the show. She's so talented, but the breaks and rants about "don't ask-don't tell" took away from the show for me.

Posted by: strohminator | September 8, 2010 6:33 AM | Report abuse

don't get why anyone goes gaga over this gaga woman. without all of her makeup and glitz, she is not attractive. she can't sing without all the glitz. will she be remembered 20 years from now, doubt it. but if it floats your boat, go gaga over gaga.

Posted by: joey3 | September 8, 2010 6:43 AM | Report abuse

Put away your camera phones and get in the moment. Great advice from Lady Gaga. In an effort to preserve the moment people, destroy the experience. Such a strange sign of the times to see young people standing in front of this visual extravaganza and staring at their mobile phone.

Posted by: paul6554 | September 8, 2010 7:36 AM | Report abuse

Paul6554 wrote:

Such a strange sign of the times to see young people standing in front of this visual extravaganza and staring at their mobile phone.


That was such a great observation, I wanted to post it again. Thank you Paul.

I remember a time when taking photos or recordings during a concert was something that could get you arrested. You were in fact "stealing" from the artist when you did it. I had my purse checked for cameras and such whenever I attended concerts in the 80s.

At the last concert I attended (2008), I was stunned to see so many people so busy recording the performance onto their phones that they were actually missing the point of going to a live performance. The man was before them, but they were staring at tiny LCD screens like, well, idiots.

Posted by: catweasel3 | September 8, 2010 7:46 AM | Report abuse

Don't you understand. It's obviously not about the music. It's entertainment.

Posted by: cautious | September 8, 2010 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Anyone that wastes their money on this garbage needs to have their head examined (and money taken away from them).

Posted by: password11 | September 8, 2010 8:04 AM | Report abuse

"don't get why anyone goes gaga over this gaga woman. without all of her makeup and glitz, she is not attractive. she can't sing without all the glitz. will she be remembered 20 years from now, doubt it. but if it floats your boat, go gaga over gaga."

joey3, actually if you remove all of the glitz and makeup, the woman has astounding raw talent. She was classically trained. Her outfits and outlandish performances are all commentary on the current state of pop culture. Read any interview with her and you would know that. She is one of the greatest singer song writers of the last decade, and she certainly will be remembered 20 years from now--at least by those of us who are taking the time to understand what she is all about rather than blindly following the crowd or ignorantly putting her down.

Posted by: cheddar2 | September 8, 2010 8:10 AM | Report abuse

I wasn't at Lady Gaga's concert, but I've watched video recordings of her concerts, and I guess I just don't see what makes her performances anything more than the most literal meaning of the word "spectacular." I understand that the idea is to get lost in the moment, which is why so many of these glitz-and-glamour shows are performed at night -- the onstage lighting enhances the experience by riveting your attention to what's directly in front of you.

But when you get down to the basics, it's just a collection of clunky machinery (muted by the music), colored lights, and a system of pipes and nozzles spewing fog. To me, these sorts of performances are the real-world examples of Socrates' famous cave of illusion.

And even then, I might not bother making a comment, like I'm doing now, except that the whole thing is an elaborate facade to make money (which is fine; no crime against that) and to give someone like Lady Gaga a temporary soapbox from which to make the most superficial political statements. Yet so many people here have been completely bedazzled by, well, lights, fog, and really loud noise. And there's just so much more to "real" life than that.

Posted by: Ivan_F | September 8, 2010 8:11 AM | Report abuse

I don't even want to read the comments before this 53 year little monster fan raves about what was one of the best shows I have ever seen (and I have seen them all) If this is what she can do at 24, "Fasten your seatbelt, It's gonna be a bumpy (and fascinating) ride!" She is a great talent.

Posted by: matshep | September 8, 2010 8:18 AM | Report abuse

Madonna this, Madonna that, get over it, this article is about Lady Gaga, it's no longer the 80's, it's 2010, there is no point in bringing up Madonna.

Posted by: Theone9 | September 8, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

You haters clearly know nothing, your ignorance is astounding, those that say no talent, can't sing are fools

Posted by: Jersey_Boy | September 8, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

I was there last night, and was a little surprised that it took her until the end to get the crowd really going. Maybe it was because the warm-up band was so jaw-droppingly terrible, or maybe DC is just really conservative, but it was a very passive audience and she didn't click until the last 15 minutes or so. The energy during Bad Romance at the very end was really fun -- the rest, an impressive spectacle, but just didn't draw people in. And why was the floor half empty???

Posted by: chevychase2 | September 8, 2010 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Those who compare her to Madonna have most likely never heard Gaga perform. She is a totally different talent. Please stop comparing.

Posted by: queenb3 | September 8, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

@Jersey_Boy (September 8, 2010 8:23 AM)

You haters clearly know nothing, your ignorance is astounding, those that say no talent, can't sing are fools

Well, I'm not arguing that Lady Gaga doesn't have talent, but I think it's totally acceptable to criticize how that talent is employed, or whether it's employed at all in some instances (like her sensation-driven concerts). Mozart was an extraordinary musician and composer; yet if he had been equally popular for debasing himself, or acting like a fool, in public, we would be right to criticize him in those instances.

Of course, I understand that I'm living in an age when it's considered blasphemous to criticize *any* art, because we now believe that all art is equally good by virtue of it being called art; and all art *is* art by virtue of the creator's saying so. Nifty.

Posted by: Ivan_F | September 8, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Freak show.

No, wait. That was Monday night's WWE crowd, recycled to see this pap.

Where have you gone, Norah Jones?

Posted by: bs2004 | September 8, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Seriously, enough with the Madonna stuff. Since the first caveman uttered a tonal "ugh," people build upon, are inspired by, or rip off their predecessors. Bob Dylan copied Arlo Guthrie. Elvis Costello copied Buddy Holly. Even Robert Johnson didn't invent the blues -- he built on the work songs and as-yet unrecorded blues that came before him. Every musician, writer, painter, whatever takes from what came before and uses it to make their own sound, image, art, etc. Give Gaga a break and let the people enjoy the show.

Posted by: dagrubb824 | September 8, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Lady Gaga, is the REAL DEAL folks...yes, I was there in the early days of Madonna, Prince, and Michael and saw them all on tour in their prime (yes, Banneker High, class of '84). I left this concert even more impressed with her talent than when I arrived. To sing LIVE, as she noted, dance that intricate choreography, and sit down at a piano and play like a femme fatale Elton John was just phenomenal. In a time where pop music on the radio is mostly auto-tuned, overproduced, mediocre vocals, she is quite extraordinary. The show itself was quite expensively produced with multiple sets, costume changes, dancers who were as the kids would say, "on point". She is quite The Artist visually and vocally. It was just so much fun. I would gladly go see her again. So stop the comparisons to Madonna. They are both Italian Americans and that is pretty much where the similarities end.

Posted by: dlndc | September 8, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

I get a kick out of those that whine, Mozart didn't do this, or so and so did it like this or why does she have to do it like that.....

Please, she got where she is by doing what she does HER WAY and IT WORKED, period. Lets see you do it ANYWAY you choose.

Posted by: Jersey_Boy | September 8, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Listening primarily to indie rock, I'm not sure I've ever heard a Lady Gaga song. But going by the review, she sounds awesome, and her show sounds like it would be a lot of fun to see.
Like other commenters, and Lady Gaga herself, I don't get the point of taking pictures with your phones at a concert. The quality is exceptionally poor, I would bet. Which is exactly why the artists and venues don't ban picture taking with them, to answer some of the other commenters' questions. Most still ban professional cameras.

Posted by: awsnyde | September 8, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

@awsnyde Check These out, maybe not your cup of tea but an amazing talent

Posted by: Jersey_Boy | September 8, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Regarding the camera comment by glenmayne's post at 4:30 AM, it is impossible to stop photography in today's world with practically everybody on the planet having a camera attached to a cell phone that fits in the palm of your hand/in your pocket. The promotors at least finally recognize this and limit the use to NONPROFESSIONAL point and shoot cameras (SLR's with removable lense lens/tipods, etc.). It is not illegal to take photos, obviously. Thanks to the folks who now allow everyone to snap their own photos for their own personal use and retain the show for themselves for posterity!

Posted by: jayberg | September 8, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Re: the posting by awsnyde at 9:21 AM, you're in luck! She's returning on February 24th. After the show, I asked one of the technicians if it will be the same show and he said essentially yes. It was a freakin' Broadway show! DON'T MISS IT THE 2ND TIME AROUND-AND SO SOON, NO LESS!!

Posted by: jayberg | September 8, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

@jayberg I don't doubt you but with a new album due out before that show IMO, it has to be different. I saw GaGa at Radio City in Jan (Monster Ball Version 1), a few months later when I saw her at MSG she had completely revamped it (MB v2), by next year it will be completely different.

Posted by: Jersey_Boy | September 8, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Jersey_Boy: That really makes sense. Why do the same gig only 5 months later? However, that show last night was so over the top, it's hard to think of an entirely different show being produced. I figured it would be essentially the same with some tweaks (new songs, etc.), but that would be cool if it was completely different!

Posted by: jayberg | September 8, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I attended the show with my 19 year old son, I'm 50 and I like Lady Gaga. She is a bit over the top but she is CERTAINLY talented and Madonna can't hold a candle to her. I appreciate her stand and views on her passion but it was a little heavy handed in the show. I know 9 of the songs she sang and I was very entertained by the show. Tickets were VERY pricey (but got a good bargain on Ebay). And yes, I went to concerts in the 70's and 80's where taking a mere picture, much less video, got you ejected from the event and arrested. I was p**sed last night because I didn't take my camera (didn't want it confiscated), told my son he couldn't take his, and yet we were surrounded by cameras taking video, (the light from everyones cameras and phones was blinding when the house lights went down as the show started). A very entertaining evening.

Posted by: rldl | September 8, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I am not one of her "Little Monsters" as I am more like an approaching Middle-age Monster. Like some who have posted here, I didn't get what the excitement was about, but after checking out some clips: wow!

In another age perhaps she was Bette Midler, Cher, or Madonna, but right now she is Gaga. Deal with it. And - if you can stand to put down the iPhone - experience it. Enjoy the show.

Posted by: stivnik | September 8, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I am nearly 50 and have been to a lot of concerts, including the original Pink Floyd, Eagles, Cars, Dire Straits, Elton, ZZ Top and a whole bunch more. Looking at the arc of careers in the music business, the key for Lady Gaga's longterm success will be the number of hit songs she comes up with, and she's off to a faster start than anyone before her. The outfits and antics will be forgotten, and no one will pony up big bucks for a concert if they don't like the songs. Madonna can still draw a crowd because her longtime fans still like to hear her tunes. Same with Elton and the others.

Posted by: allknowingguy | September 8, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I did not think Gaga was amazing, at first. The more I learn about her,the more I love her. She is an accomplished pianist and a smart pop song writer. She is an entertainer who brings a lot to the show. I love how she makes people talk about ideas, concepts and issues. With her rebellious Catholic school girl background, and her kick-ass-granny from WV, Lady Gaga is more than just another contender for the Queen of Pop Music's crown. Lady Gaga is the Champ that cold stole it when no one was looking!

Posted by: kmk9197 | September 8, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Move over Madonna, vocally at least. Certainly the older Diva can put on as spectacle equal or better than the Monster Queen. However, when GaGa sings and the spectator knows/feels the real power of her voice (no backup singers, just the mike and piano), wow! Goose bumps. For those of you that didn't make it, find the next city and GO! Thanks cousin Chelsea for sharing the tix.

Posted by: josephkammerer | September 8, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I remember a time when the phrase "I remember a time" was only uttered by old people in retirement homes on TV, accompanied by groans from the young'uns and a laugh track.


She's talented, and that's that. People complaining that she isn't just don't like her for whatever reason, and that's fine, but that's irrelevant to whether she can play instruments (she can), whether she can write her own music (she can), and whether she can sing (guess what? she can).

And to Joey3, whether she's "attractive" is irrelevant, but way to go using that as some sort of measuring stick for her talent.

Further, she inspires millions of people to love themselves and others, which is more than one can say for many contemporary artists. Whether you like her or not, she moves people to feel happy with themselves, and that's great - the vibe at the show was what life should be like all the time.

Posted by: nagatuki | September 8, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I LOVE Lady Gaga! She's such an inspiration because she doesn't care what anyone thinks of her, and she's just herself. Maybe you don't like her, with her theatricality and her flair for the dramatic, but personally, I love it. If you don't like it, then don't look; don't listen, and stop whining about her taking her clothes off; she's never 100% naked, and it's just how she expresses herself. The music industry needs someone as unique and beautiful as Lady Gaga. Going to this concert was amazing; I feel lucky to have gone and experienced it. :)

Posted by: dilemma13 | September 8, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Could someone please explain to me why we had to sit and wait for 45 min. between the pathetic worm-up band and the start of Lady Gaga's concert? I've seen many concerts, with tickets costing less $$$, and I hever had to sit and wait for 45 min doing nothing...This may be why she had a heard time getting people into the mood...

Posted by: apascal2003 | September 8, 2010 11:53 PM | Report abuse

Stop comparing Lady GaGa to Madonna. Madonna is a failing touring act--do Google searches for the following

- Madonna Can't Fill Seats in New York (Mary Hun, NY Post, June 8 2004)
- Is Madonna's Sticky and Sweet Tour a Flop? (New York Post, June 27, 2008)
- Madonna is Playing Empty Houses (Roger Friedman, Fox News, May 26, 2004)

Posted by: SuperAmanda | September 9, 2010 2:42 AM | Report abuse

I think her performances, singing, and stage setting was awesome! However, I did not like her bad language and her continuous reference to the gay community. I know you are a supporter of them and that is your choice, but I did not want to countinuely hear about that throughout the whole performance. Some of us just wanted to hear you sing. It would have been a much more enjoyable perfromance for me if she had not talked at all and just sang.

Posted by: Diva4 | September 9, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

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