Review: Lady Gaga at Vector
What can you say about Lady Gaga? She's eccentric, she's iconic, she's controversial, she's a little bit terrifying. And after seeing her in all her glory in the first of three New Zealand shows last night, she's really quite spellbinding.
One thing you can't say is that she is boring. Or understated. Or in any way subtle. But that's what her "Little Monsters" love about her, she doesn't need to hide who she is or what she loves, and she doesn't want any one else to have to either - that, she made perfectly clear.
From the moment the classical hold music dimmed and Gaga emerged from her "Electric Chapel" - a three-storey medieval castle - perched on top of a unicorn, (okay, it may have been an old-fashioned two-person outfit), singing Highway Unicorn (Road to Love) it was clear this was to be a night of excess.
Welcome to the Born This Way Ball, Auckland.
The show clocks in at a meaty to two and a half hours, with 23 songs split into five acts, each with a different feel, and obviously many, many different outfits - this is Gaga we're talking about, after all.
There were all the things that have made her a household name, and headline fodder recently - the only-slightly-clothed, more-than-slightly-raunchy routines and somewhat sacrilegious lyrics (if you are that way inclined) were all present and accounted for.
She swore, she simulated sex acts, she did odd things with a motorcycle and at one point she sang Born This Way after being born again through a giant pair of legs. There was a live band and a dance troop. It's all shocking and it's all bizarre and, inexplicably, it's all compelling viewing.
But when she sang the line "I'm not that typical baby, I'm a bad kid baby" from Bad Kids, you got the sense she really will never change for anyone. And why should she?
Bad Romance was performed while wearing white plastic, and punctuated with her screaming "I'm singing Bad Romance, why would you be sitting down?" at fans.
Judas was a big ball of energy, but not as much as the brilliantly fun Telephone, even if Beyonce couldn't make it.
But it was old favourites Just Dance, Poker Face and Paparazzi that got the hair bows jumping. Even though she must have performed them thousands of times, Gaga still looked like she was enjoying herself.
And it wouldn't be Gaga without a visit to the butchers. Americano was performed in a meat-esque dress which magically transformed into a meat leotard. But the question has to be asked: how on earth did that make it through customs?
It wasn't just Mother Monster who was dressed to kill and ready to shock though. People who didn't know better could have been excused for thinking Vector was hosting one of the most elaborate costume parties of all time, with skeletons rubbing shoulders with faceless monsters and girls wearing almost as little as Gaga herself.
And while the costumes and the sets and visual imagery were astounding - and they really were - there were moments when you couldn't help but be absorbed by the packaging rather than what it was wrapping.
And that's a shame, because what was being overwhelmed (and only at times, mind you) was a remarkable performance. There is no doubt this girl can sing, and when you were able to focus in on that, especially on songs like the stripped back Hair and Edge of Glory, it was pretty special.
Of course, in saying all of that, there was no doubt the hordes of Kiwi Monsters packed into the arena couldn't have cared less. They were there to see the new Queen of Pop and that was that, even though, in her own words she "doesn't want to be anybody's f*****queen, I just want to be your friend". Long live Lady Gaga.