As I waited in my seat at Rogers Place watching the hot pink numbers on the giant digital clock tick down – letting the anticipation of what’s to come build up – I knew in that moment it was going to be a stunning show, both vocally and visually. Lady Gaga’s Joanne World Tour was nothing short of impressive. It consisted of seven acts plus an encore; each act had a theme, which was reflected in the set and Gaga’s outfit changes.
The Joanne World Tour consumed the arena – there were four stages: the main stage, which had a moving floor and a large screen, two smaller round stages in the middle of the floor that elevated and another stage at the back where her piano sat. The back stage was multi-tiered and lined with LED lights. As I was waiting for the show to start I couldn’t help but wonder how she would get from stage to stage. I was beyond stunned when what I thought what were overhead screens started descending and acted as bridges – she hopped around from stage to stage for the majority of her two-hour, 22-song show.
“I’m so glad they built all around the arena so I can see each and every one of you!” Gaga said during act four.
With hits like “Born This Way” and “Million Reasons” Gaga’s Little Monsters, a term she uses to lovingly describe her fans, know she has a deep and powerful soul – something I quickly learned. She chatted with the crowd frequently throughout her show – talking about the meaning of life, how she found happiness within herself and why everyone should love themselves for who they are.
“None of us are supposed to be this fabulous, we were born this way!”
She exclaimed before she performed that smash hit. “I just heard somebody yell at me ‘you’re so talented’, I want to tell you something, I appreciate that so much. You might not know this about me, but there are so many nights since I was a little girl that I was so insecure. I love singing and dancing so much but I would sit up in my room and cry because I wasn’t good enough; even when the whole world would cheer for me and I had number one songs I would stay up and cry. So don’t reach for idol things like fame and money – what makes you happy is what’s in your heart.”
Fashion: Gaga hit the stage in a leather bodysuit with long fringe down the arms, a pale-pink cowboy hat and a pink guitar with “JOANNE” written on the shoulder strap in pink sequin letters.
Lady Gaga took to the stage at 9:00 PM with vocals as smooth as butter. Even when she sang her hits, she would go off course showing off her wide vocal range.
The first act had a very retro 80s vibe to it. It was amazing to see how the crowd responded to her when she would interact with them; it was almost as if Gaga and her Monsters had an unspoken language – they understood each other, and that was palpable. Act one was a “classic” performance (as classic as you can get if you’re Lady Gaga, that is). She stayed on the main stage the whole time dancing in unison with her 12 back-up dancers as the stage continued to move and change.
Immediately after song two, she took a moment to praise the crowd.
“I just want to say thank you for paying your hard earned money for this show. That does not go unnoticed and we’re here to sing and dance all night! Because of you I feel like I really have the opportunity to grow as a person, but there is really one thing I’m really s*** at… I have a terrible poker face.”
Fashion: Gaga rocked more tassels and another cowboy hat, this time the leather was replaced with a black sheer bodysuit.
Act two was similar to act one in terms of a “classic” performance – she stuck to the main stage as she sang and danced the whole time. What may be a cardio workout for some, did not faze the six-time Grammy award winner – she managed to keep her vocals flawless.
Fashion: Lady Gaga ditched the tassels on her clothing, but brought them out on her bedazzled keytar. Gaga was in a powder-blue bodysuit accented with pearls throughout and stiff shoulder pads.
Act three was all about the hits! She came out playing her bedazzled keytar, playing the signature sound that is the intro of “Just Dance”. During “LoveGame” Gaga replaced her keytar with a sword with spikes where the handle would be – this acted as her ‘disco stick’.
Fashion: We said goodbye to the bodysuits (for now) and hello to a full velvet black onesie, with one floral sleeve. Her dancers were in juxtaposing bright floral onesies with matching oversized coats – they brought a fun 60s vibe to the stage.
Act four is when she really started to shake things up. The bridges started descending from the ceiling during “Applause”. As she made her way to the back stage via the middle stages, she engaged with her Monsters along the way, “Oh my Joanne, don’t you look fabulous tonight!”
Gaga took to her glass piano, filled with LED lights on the back stage to begin “Come to Mama”. She spoke her lyrics to the crowd before she began singing – reinforcing her message to love yourself and others.
“Everybody’s got to love each other. Stop throwin’ stones at your sisters and your brothers. Man, it wasn’t that long ago we were all living in the jungle. So why do we gotta put each other down, when there’s more than enough love to go around?”
She prefaced that by saying, “For those of you who aren’t part of the equality movement here tonight – and I can’t imagine you wouldn’t be – but if you’re not, I say come to mama!”
“The Edge of Glory” was magnificent. It was just Gaga, her piano and her voice. She would often pause in between verses to collect her emotions. She picked up the energy again with “Born this Way” as she danced back to the main stage. Gaga added a beautiful white tulle skirt to her black onesie, and rainbow lights scanned the crowed – it was a fairy-tale like moment.
Fashion: Gaga came out in a thick red ‘winter jacket’ type coat with a long train, red boots and a red eye mask. Her dancers were also in all red with a red hat that resembled a Papal tiara. As Gaga does, she stripped down out of her jacket throughout the act to a red bodysuit.
Lady Gaga began act five on the main stage, but quickly found her way to one of the middle circle stages for “Dancin’ in Circles”. She continued to banter with the audience, and began to let the audience in on who “Joanne” was and why she named her album after her.
“My friend Gladys gave me a pink hat one day and I started calling myself Joanne,” she explained.
We didn’t actually find out more about Joanne until act six. This act ended with Gaga being lifted to the ceiling by one of the bridges – I was anticipating her to jump back down like she did during the Super bowl LI Halftime show, instead she came down in a gorgeous dress for the next act.
Fashion: A white dress, red boots and wide brimmed hat. The top of the dress resembled like a blazer with steep shoulder pads and a deep v from the lapels, while the bottom was a shredded skirt. The dress and hat included hand-painted song names and phrases such as “Joanne”, “Born this Way” and “don’t need eyes to see me”.
She began act six saying, “Many of you know I’ve travelled the world talking about equality and talking about love, but when I made this record I had one intention that was different than before… I promised myself I would take a moment to pause.” She did just that before and during “Joanne”.
“Some of you are wondering who is Joanne. Joanne is both my middle name and the name I was given after my father’s sister who died in 1974 from lupus. I ask you to try to remember that thing that blasted you so hard – that unfathomable disaster that occurred even if you weren’t born yet.” She went on to explain, “There was always something missing at the dinner table, and that was Joanne.
“That was the one thing that blasted me so hard and it was passed down to me from my parents.”
Lady Gaga began singing “Joanne” acoustically accompanied by her guitar on stage two, but paused before the chorus to say, “I wrote these lyrics, if you listen close these are the words I thought my father would have said if he had the chance to say goodbye… I love you dad.”
Lady Gaga finished the act on the main stage in between two guitarists. She continued to acknowledge what it meant to feel that pain and told her Monsters, “I hope you feel healed at some point in this show and know that I honour your pain.”
Fashion: Gaga brought the bodysuits back for her final act. She wore a structured white bodysuit, with a white feather eye mask and ruffled sleeves. She took off the sleeves and corset to reveal a silver bodysuit for her second song. Her dancers were also in white – white pants, white sneakers and white jackets.
The energy picked up again as her hit “Bad Romance” came up over the sound system at Rogers Place. Gaga was back to her “classic” performance and she danced on the main stage with her backup dancers. It seemed as though the whole audience was captivated – they wanted more Gaga.
Fashion: Her dress in act six was outdone by her dress in her encore. She wore a long dress covered in Swarovski crystals and accessorized it with a wide brim hat.
Song: Million Reasons
As Gaga made her way back over the bridges to her piano she said, “Before I sing this last song, I want to get one last close look at you! I do know if you just embrace all those things that are hard along the way, it will lead you back home, and my home is on the stage with all of you.”
During the chorus, the crowd finished the line “But baby, I just need one good one to stay”, which queued Gaga to respond, “All I can do when I write an album is pray that you can remember at least one line – so I did good,” she joked.
Gaga spent the evening captivating the crowd with her soulful lyrics and smooth vocals. She left the stage after her final song with her hat on the piano bench and a crowd proud to be who they are.