Lady Gaga at Minute Maid Park
Lady Gaga takes adoring Houston Little Monsters to the edge of glory in dazzling Minute Maid Park concert
Global pop sensation, Academy and Grammy Award-winner, fashionista, modern day provocateur, and downright talented artist, Lady Gaga brought her acclaimed Chromatica Ball tour to Minute Maid Park on Tuesday, September 13 and took fans on a thrill ride of lights and sound.
It’s been a long five years since Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta played for her devoted fanbase of misfits and outcasts — aka Little Monsters — in Houston. But she more than made up for the absence with a stunning two-and-a-half-hour performance that included four acts, a finale, an encore with costume changes, insane visuals, and enough pyro to level a city.
Not to mention, she played a varied setlist of mega-hits from her five No. 1 albums sure to please all those in attendance.
Around the ballpark, Gaga’s icon status to the LGBTQIA+ community was apparent. Gaga’s local contingent of diehards showed up en masse dressed in neon colors, fishnets, glitter, and funky wigs for a night of anything goes, including several Gaga impersonators from each of her vibrant musical eras.
After a short prelude on the massive stage screens, Gaga’s five-piece band and crew of a dozen dancers kicked into the No. 2 hit, “Bad Romance” from 2009’s The Fame Monster. With a black and white set design that recalled German impressionist films, Gaga performed the entire song encased in a statue-like, iron maiden tomb with her body slowly breaking out.
Her once-in-a-generation voice took center stage early and often with little banter between songs during the first half of the show. The catchy-as-all-get-out No. 1 songs that launched her career, “Just Dance” and “Poker Face” wrapped up a killer start to a show many had been waiting for due to pandemic cancellations. Dressed in grey baggy pants and grey ruffled sleeves, Gaga looked otherworldly.
After another interlude, she kicked into the Alice in Wonderland themed “Alice” from 2020’s Chromatica, suspended from a ledge like a Gotham gargoyle in red leather, once again letting her pipes do most of the work. But then the show amped up and turned into a dance party with the beat-driven “Replay” and The Fame Monster’s “Monster,” which had clawed hands in the air, a signature of her Little Monster fanbase.
Act III showed that Gaga’s recent Vegas residency paid off with her choreographed moves never getting in the way of her vocals. After the industrial goth sounding “911,” sexy Chromatica track “Sour Candy” had Gaga taking center stage for a solo dance number, leaving her visibly catching her breath between songs. The synth-heavy “Telephone” was a highlight with an impressive pyro display that quite literally brought the heat and raised the temperature of Minute Maid.
Another highlight included “LoveGame” from her debut album that cut into Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s “Ain’t Nuthin’ But a G Thang,” as she introduced her band. After going into the crowd during the Hi-NRG house inspired “Free Woman,” Gaga slowed things down on a smaller stage that sat on what looked like second base near centerfield.
After acknowledging the deafening applause, she finally addressed the crowd:
“It’s such a privilege to be on stage to perform for you, it’s a great honor of my life…to feel all the love tonight. I look out there and see lot of people who know exactly who they are. Some of you may not know who you but you’re going to find out and if someone asks you about who you are, you could say what I always say, ‘I was born this way.’”
A fantastic, slower version of No. 1 hit “Born This Way” once again showed off her voice as she encouraged the LGBTQIA+ members in the audience to celebrate and own their pride before song evolved into an unhinged dance freak out with her full band kicking in.
Act IV featured mostly solo numbers with Gaga at the piano, including a stirring version of A Star Is Born’s “Shallow.” That said, she added her own flair, doing “Shallow” as a science fiction creature with what looked like tentacle horns, an interesting choice. Of course, she nailed the high octave drama that earned her an Oscar for Best Song.
She dedicated the other Academy Award-nominated song from that film, “Always Remember Us This Way” to her longtime friend Sonja Durham, a Houston native, who had passed away in 2017 from breast cancer. Overcome with emotion, Gaga could barely finish the track but soldiered through to move onto a slowed down version of the No. 3 smash, “The Edge of Glory.”
The energy in the ballpark picked up for the last part of the show with Gaga dressed in a black, bedazzled, black leather jacket and fishnets recalling her album cover from Born This Way. She closed the set with more house-inspired dance tracks, including the disco torch song, “Fun Tonight,” the Pet Shop Boys-esque ‘Enigma,” and the bass drop-heavy No. 1, “Rain on Me.”
A requisite encore gave the star one last chance to shine on what might be her next Oscar, the Top Gun: Maverick ballad, “Hold My Hand.” Dancing in front of a line of fire with monster claws on her right hand, she belted out the tune, a fittingly majestic ending to a truly epic show.
Overall, the standout of the night was the diverse mix of fans. All ages, teens to senior citizens, were represented. Parents brought their kids. Couples and friends dressed up together. It was rare kind of event with the power to bring people together with a one-of-a-kind ringleader to lead the way.
The Operation (Video Interlude; contains elements of “Babylon”, “Enigma”, & “Chromatica I”)
Flowers (Video Interlude; contains elements of “Enigma”, “Babylon”, & “Chromatica II”)
“LoveGame” containing snippets of “John Wayne” & “Ain’t Nuthin But a “G” Thang” by Dr. Dre
The Birth of Freedom (Video Interlude; contains elements of “Alice”, “Chromatica III”, & “Sine from Above”)
“Born This Way”
Tamara (Video Interlude with elements of “Venus”)
“Always Remember Us This Way”
“The Edge of Glory”
Sonnet elements of “Flaming June” by BT
“Rain on Me”
“Hold My Hand”