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Lady Gaga brings live grit to pop music

By Ryan Broderick

Lady Gaga played to a packed house at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday night. The crowd ran the gamut, a mixed bag of pre-teen girls and transvestites. The lobby looked like a neon-painted, ecstasy-fueled production of The Rocky Horror Picture show.

Warming up the crowd for Gaga were her cross-dressing openers Semi-Precious Weapons. They played a strange mix of industrial and glam with a front(wo)man that leapt through the air in pantyhose and stilettos. Their set finished at a fever pitch with their singer pulling off an incredible split while the stadium chanted "Lady Gaga."

Forty-five minutes of prep time later, Lady Gaga's pop circus booted up, with huge projectors and thumping techno pouring over the thick perfumed air.

What followed was a stage show equal parts night club, Rock ‘n roll showcase, stage play, church procession and gay pride rally.

Gaga's performance consisted almost entirely of her singles, but reimagined to fit the size of Nassau Coliseum. The show had weird twists and turns though, turning her 90s dance track "Born This Way" into an Elton John-style piano ballad or turning "Poker Face" into a frenzied rock song.

Her message of homosexual and transgendered rights was always there. "I want to see you Long Island gay boys dance;" she demanded during Poker Face, "show me your cocks."

During songs she'd belt out heavy growls and scream curse words, ordering the crowd around like a military march.

The concert was a spectacle and it was meticulously built that way. And while it was clear that Lady Gaga is incredibly practiced and her band and dancers are incredibly tight, the shocking facets to the show were the imperfections.

There was a level of grit that made the whole thing seem so much more real then the autotuned sleekness you'd get from other mainstream artists. This wasn't a "watch Britney Spears wear cute clothes and lip sync" set-up.

There are very few pop acts that are also artists. Lady Gaga might not be an artist, but through her stage show, you get a glimpse at a depth that doesn't exist in her recordings. With the aid of her shockingly live band and the genuine talent she has, a whole new dimension comes to light that is almost uncomfortable. I suppose it's a sad statement on the music world when sincerity is shocking, but that's where we're at with radio pop.

There were adult themes which seemed to clash with her tween-appeal, and in a certain sense they did make for some certainly uncomfortable moments for parents. But at the same time, in a world full of Ke$ha's and Katy Perry's slinging sex and booze, Lady Gaga might be the most intelligent alternative. She railed against sexual discrimination and bullying, she played her own instruments, she preached a message of tolerance and believing in yourself.

Compared to the competition, that's not too bad at all.

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