The fact that Lady Gaga is slipping ever so slightly from the mainstream with her new album, “Artpop,” has had the inverse effect on her dedicated Little Monsters: It makes them love her even more! Now she’s theirs …
Returning to a packed Consol Energy Center Thursday for the first time since her Monster Ball stop three years ago, the Lady even did the “they love me … they love me not” petal-plucking routine to wild applause.
“Look at all those beautiful faces,” she screamed. “How many years has it been? Too many!”
She arrived wearing wings and that ridiculous blue chest orb and was greeted with another flamboyant display of affection from her colorful fanbase, some arriving in their own Gaga gear.
She rewarded their love and loyalty by pouring all of her crazy gyrating, semi-naked self onto the stage three gigs into her artRave: The ARTPOP Ball Tour. True to form, she also poured a fortune into the production, starting with the dozen dancers and elaborate marshmallow white cave stage with colorful projections, on which she spent little time. Instead, she ran the Lucite runways, with fans dancing underneath, that branched out across the Consol floor.
Gaga also had a constant supply of confetti and a trunkful of costumes.
There was the girlish neon rave outfit with furry leg warmers, the seashell/thong bikini, the more formal white sequined gown, the black latex, and the polka-dot-tentacled sea creature extension that’s part “Little Mermaid,” part Squidward. The wigs ran the gamut from blond bob to Jane Fonda “Barbarella.”
Even though “Artpop” hasn’t been her most popular effort, Gaga has embraced it like her precious wild child. A little more than half of the two dozen songs came from this booming EDM-heavy third studio. She opened with the techno title track that had her singing the welcoming sentiment “We could/we could belong together.” She proceeded with five more new, rather non-descript bangers including the sexual come-ons “G.U.Y.” and “Sexxx Dreams,” the party disco tune “Fashion!” and the cheerleader pop of “Manicure.”
The rave started for real when she transitioned into her earliest hits “Just Dance” and “Poker Face,” received with ecstatic jumping in a section that also included a shortened “Telephone,” “Artpop” outtake “Partynauseous” and the tentacled “Paparazzi.”
Sitting down to do “Born This Way” alone on piano, she reminded us of her regional ties. “My grandmother is here with me tonight,” she said.
“We have been to Pittsburgh a lot together because she’s from W. Va. She always told me not to give up, she always told me to be myself.” (Message received, obviously.) She thanked her grandmother for giving birth to her mother and also shed a tear that her grandfather couldn’t be there. “He would have been so proud.” (She also warmly consoled a fan who passed on a note about losing her dad.)
She put her brassy cabaret voice to “Born This Way,” but her two other rock-ish hits from that last album, “You and I” and “The Edge of Glory,” were tossed aside in favor of more thumping “Artpop” —“Jewels N’ Drugs” and “Sexxx Dreams,” so as Gaga tours go, this won’t go down as one of the more musical.
As you’ve probably heard from the biggest headlines on the tour, her most provocative costume change came late in the show, transitioning from the black to neon for “Bad Romance.” Her handlers removed her top — and bottom — in a move that is likely to sell out the remaining shows and maybe force some additional dates.
It was more proof of how far Lady Gaga will go for the “Applause,” which, along with “Swine” and the piano-driven “Gypsy,” helped bring her artRave to a dazzling, sweet and heartfelt finish.
Scott Mervis: firstname.lastname@example.org; 412-263-2576. Twitter: @scottmervis-pg.