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Gaga at Last

And that's why the lady is a vamp

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After months of rescheduling, venue switcheroos and anticipation, the sold-out crowd at Monday night's Lady Gaga show was forced to stick it out just a little longer. Sans an opener,  the pop star didn't grace the stage until just before 9 p.m. which led to the bedazzled masses entertaining themselves with aisle dancing and chants of “We want Gaga!”  When the curtain dropped, they all flipped their Technicolor wigs.

Perched upon a glitter-encrusted pedestal flanked by dancing boys who looked as if they just rolled out of the Thunderdome, a masked Gaga launched into “Paparazzi” and spared us the blood-and-guts version that most recently gained notoriety at the “Video Music Awards” a few weeks ago. Even the offset of the show proved one thing: Lady Gaga is an evil genius with pipes to be reckoned with despite the naysayers who regard her as just another pop confection a la Britney. Somewhere amidst Madonna, Queen and Ziggy Stardust, Lady Gaga is settling in quite comfortably.

Before ripping into a barrage of radio-friendly hits that included “Just Dance” and “The Fame”, the former Catholic schoolgirl proved that her mama raised her right offering up apologies to her fans for the delay in getting to Richmond. Whether part of a schtick or not, her promise that she'd put together a special show that no one else in the world had yet seen elicited  feverish screams and applause. Her response was a gracious “I love you Richmond,” and a sentiment that she expressed many times thereafter.

Like any good diva, she strutted about with much pomp and pizzazz. At times, she paused to soak up the limelight and indulged in multiple, barely-there costume changes. At least half of her accessories ended up being thrown to the crowd, which assuredly prompted near riots upon touchdown. Despite the pageantry, the music was never a second priority. Backed by a solid band, Gaga's voice was far superior to her recorded self that leverages the vocoder too often and occasionally gets lost in beats.

The hour long set was pulled to a close with a casual, unplugged version of “Poker Face” in which Gaga unleashed her piano prowess and a few acrobatics of sorts. At one point, she struck a very precarious performing pose in her stilettos. It suggested serious flexibility and an earnest desire to always remain the weirdest kid in the room.  She definitely succeeds and has a good time while doing it.

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