REVIEW: Lady Gaga Denver Pepsi Center show - Reverb

REVIEW: Lady Gaga Denver Pepsi Center show

Lady Gaga performs at the Pepsi Center on Aug. 6, 2014.

Lady Gaga performs at the Pepsi Center on Aug. 6, 2014.

NOTE: Lady Gaga isn’t allowing photographers into her “ArtRave” tour. The above picture was taken on a cell phone. We also made GIFs of her fans.

Lady Gaga uses the term “art” twice in the official title of her tour, “ArtRave: The Artpop Ball.” She yelled the word repeatedly at her Pepsi Center crowd on Wednesday in Denver. It’s in the title of her latest album, smashed together with another word: “pop.” She flashed #artrave on enormous HD screens above the stage. But it wasn’t until nearly halfway through her set that Lady Gaga showed any hint of the idea. And even then it was only a brief flash.

This moment of brilliance at Lady Gaga’s show on Wednesday didn’t come in the form of elaborate costuming or confetti or glow sticks or guys in trench coats with flashing pacifiers, it was when she sat at the piano and actually sang.

During “Do What U Want” a pillar lifted Gaga into the air and back to the ground on an inflatable throne. Gaga stood up from the throne and suddenly the heavy backing tracks and the thick abrasive riffs from her band cut out and she moved into an R&B refrain of the track. Alone on the neon, EDM bridge that extended over the crowd, Gaga finally sang. She bounced up to the high notes, dug deep into her girthy register, and you could finally hear that singer who gained early admission into NYU’s musical theater program. Then Gaga made her way to a piano to play a beautiful and honest “Dope.” Here, including when she ran out of breath halfway through, Lady Gaga seemed almost real. With nothing to hide behind, Gaga belted the first half of “Born This Way.” She had emotion, she had a purpose. Her voice filled the venue and lifted the crowd of wigged and painted partiers. That is, until her leather backing dancers came back on stage to shoot neon rods and confetti at the audience.

The all too brief piano interlude was sandwiched by an expectedly outrageous spectacle from Lady Gaga. The stage looked like a tacky, rave version of the ice castle in “Adventure Time.” A cold, white bridge extended over the crowd into the middle of the arena where Gaga spent most of her time on Wednesday.

And yes, she had some crazy costumes.

Here’s a quick rundown of what she wore: The Tantric Sex Butterfly Costume, The “Blade Runner” Plastic Neon Top/Skirt, The Blue Tentacle Creature With a Seahorse Keytar (kind of looks like the singer at the end of “The Fifth Element”), The Green Haired Leather Stripper Number, The Ice Bride, The Grunge One (plaid, without pants), Blonde Amy Winehouse Wig/Makeup.

As her backing tracks played and the band hammered away, Gaga awkwardly moved around in these costumes, trying to pump up the crowd like a desperate spin class instructor. Only about five songs into the night, she haphazardly threw out “Paparazzi,” “Poker Face” and “Just Dance.” Who would have thought some of Lady Gaga’s biggest hits from her groundbreaking years as the Queen of Pop would be tucked into a parenthesis early into the set?

In 2010, when Lady Gaga played the Pepsi Center these songs marked the peak of her success. Back then, she was getting early comparisons to Madonna and Britney Spears. We even ended our review of that show with a challenge: Gaga could hold the title of biggest pop star in the world if she “plays her cards right.”

Well, that didn’t mean play the same hand over and over again.

Returning four years later, Gaga seemed tired (edit: Turns out she had altitude sickness), dragging around a confused mess of a show that was hardly art, shakily pop and mostly rave. As that passionate and lonely midsection on Wednesday proved, she’s a talented musician and powerful performer. But, looking around at the fuzzy hats, glow sticks, booty shorts and pasties, you have to wonder if anyone would have bought a ticket to see Gaga alone at a piano.

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  • jaberwoky

    shit review from someone who just doesn’t get it: fair enough, tells us more about him than Lady Gaga.

    • Retrodude

      Of course, any negative review of Gaga means we just don’t “get it”. *rolls eyes*

      • Zach

        Actually you probably don’t get it.

        • AlanLouis

          Either you “get” it or you don’t. She’s very polarizing.

          • o

            She isn’t really. People either like her work or don’t like her work, it’s certainly nothing new, so not unfamilar for a large majority of people.

        • David

          Or maybe you just have bad taste in music and mediocre performers.

          • C

            And what is good taste, since you seem to be the arbiter of it?

        • o

          Old music and bad dancing; don’t get what ?

    • o

      What is there to get ?

      • jaberwoky

        …more BANG for your buck than anyone else could even dream of giving. That’s what you get my friend.

        • o

          Not if one doesn’t like her old kind of music and amateur dancing. But that’s okay, not everyone has to like her work.

  • jaberwoky

    I mean fucksake it’s ArtRave The Artpop Ball in support of her latest album ARTPOP. Why would you expect all the old hits? Answer: cos you’re stupid? Yup, that must be it.

    • Retrodude

      You would think a fan wouldn’t want to hear any of the dreadful ARTPOP album, that has certainly under-performed and failed to produce any solid, memorable hit.

      • jaberwoky

        I’m looking forward to seeing her in Glasgow, and to hearing ALL the great songs from ARTPOP. I’ve been to the previous tours and heard the big chart hits several times. You can only cram so much into 2hrs and I’m sure that her fans want ARTPOP, same as me. So, some non-fan hack writer gets told to go along and review the gig. He wants Pokerface and doesn’t get it. He then goes into a shop with Fish n Chips written on the sign, and he writes a shit review cos he couldn’t get a burger. Fuckin idiot!

        • Riverwide

          2 hours? Her show is 90 minutes. 90 utterly tragic minutes.

        • Joe


          • jaberwoky

            …cheers Joe :)

        • I Think You’re Freaky

          you must be a liitle kid that doesnt like to hear no or hates it when shit doesnt get his way… get over it, many peole dont like her.. shes not the shit…all the stuff shes doing is from the 80s and 90s…so of course its new to you…nothing is groundbreaking..and honestly people could care less for her and her little monsters, but you guys make it so fun…look at you guys all butt hurt and shit

          • jaberwoky

            Haha Freaky, how wrong can you be: I’m 61 and seen it all mate, Bowie, Ferry, Queen etc. I’m same vintage as Elton, Macca, and Sting. They all love her (same as me), and older vintages like Tony Bennett. Looks like you’re the little kid fulla shit!

          • ø

            Are you sure McCartney and Sting “love” her ? I think the only one on that list is Elton (won’t comment on Bennett).

          • SPEECHFREEDOM1976

            61 – maybe you were 61 10 years ago – the glasses don’t make you younger by the way!


      once again trying to sound young – yup!

  • Vesuvia

    Lady Gaga is the best performer because she always puts her heart into her performance, and it’s not fair for anyone to expect her to sit alone at the piano for the entire show, no matter how amazing and beautiful she is to watch and listen to while she’s doing it. And to call her tired in any way is also an unfair assessment, she danced her ass off, and she did it with altitude sickness, which really makes all that she did and how she sounded quite incredible. The reviewer seems to think having blood made of hater-aide makes them interesting, but it doesn’t. It just robs their credibility and that of the venue with which they spread their negativity

    • o

      Just because people have a different taste to you doesn’t make them a “hater”. You fans are really over the top. No one is allowed to not find her work great without you having a hissyfit. Knock it off, it’s idi*tic.

  • JR

    Why doesn’t Lady Gaga not update her tour attendance numbers on Wikipedia for this concert? I saw this concert in Minneapolis. I think she went to cheap on stage props. The plastic trees look like an in store display for a beer company. I do understand that she maybe cutting expenses to make the tour profitable. The money’s not in CD’s anymore; it’s in digital downloads, and touring.

    • Blade2

      They will update once the tour is over in North America. Billboard releases attendance and gross numbers every wednesday so let’s hope for numbers this Wednesday since by then, the tour in North America will have concluded.

  • Chríss

    TL;DR: ‘I really like her voice, but I wish she wasn’t a pop singer’. That’s a bit tiresome now. She is a pop singer. Review the pop. You can’t get away with saying ‘I liked it when it wasn’t pop’.

    • crissy

      She has a jazz album coming out with Tony Bennett. The pop and jazz music she sings is amazing. Nobody forces you to listen to her pop music. Speechless is one of my favorite ballads.

      • o

        Uh, no it is not amazing, it’s quite pedestrian.

  • Elladonna De Pont

    i attended and it was the best concert i have ever been to, her vocals especially on “Dope” “Born This Way” & “Gypsy” are the reason Gaga is ahead of her game in terms of vocals, she beats Madonna, Rihanna, Katy & Miley, ive watched Katy’s show and i can tell you i am not wasting my money on a lipsyncing idiot without talent like katy…. i love you gaga thanks for such a life changing show!!!!!!!!!!!

    • nerdychick

      Obviously you have not been to many concerts have you? Lol

      • Elladonna De Pont

        hun now lets back up, take a step back and lets not assume, ive been to many concerts such as AC/DC, Def Leppard, Iron Maiden, Tesla, Madonna, Motley Crue, Cher, Britney Spears, Judas Priest and i can tell you Lady Gaga’s is TOP 5, the best would be Madonna MDNA Tour because of the immaculate show it was, but in terms of vocals Gaga destroys Madonna

        • o

          She doesn’t destroy her because her voice is somewhat monotone, imo.

        • nerdychick

          Anybody can sing that is not the debate, it’s really about putting on a good show and being an entertainer, having stage presence and sadly gaga is low on that list.I think she does sing well, but she cannot carry a two hour show on singing alone, she has to have the dancing, the acting and the spark that every good pop star has. That’s why madonna has survived for so long. Madonna puts on one hell of a show and knows how to connect with the audience and knows what they want. I feel the author was right in their critique, even if it is harsh, this show is not strong and if you are asking people to spend good money to see you, you better give them all you can, and gaga shows are a little boring.

          • Elladonna De Pont

            you have your opinions and i have mine, my opinion is the the artRAVE is an amazing show and you cant just watch it from youtube videos, you have to experience it in person. Look i respect your opinion, but i prefer Gaga over anyone anyday!

          • º

            A little boring ? They are like some amateur entertainer groups at state fairs. How someone like that attaches “art” to herself is beyond my comprehension.

    • Xacto

      Better than Madonna? Hah. SHows how much you “don’t” know.

    • o

      How can someone be “ahead of (her) game” when most of her work sounds like everything from the past ? That doesn’t make sense.
      Lady Gaga uses heavy backingtracks when you watch videos of this show, so it’s interesting you would say “and i can tell you i am not wasting my money on a lipsyncing idiot”. Personally I find Lady Gaga to have a boring voice, there are much better singers.

      • lemon lemon lemon

        lady gaga lip syncs…and her dancing isnt that great….and her vocals arent great either… Alicia Keys, she can sing

        • Elladonna De Pont


      • Elladonna De Pont


        • Designer (uni studied)

          I mean, it’s a really sh*tty show.

          but if that’s your taste.

  • Kenji

    But did you dance, smile, and rejoice during the performance? Did you feel the connectivity, energy, love in the stadium? That’s what is missing in all of these cookie cutter reviews of Gaga’s ArtRave, I mean give the woman some props; she can throw a damn good party.

    • Xacto

      Go to a Phish concert and you’ll say “Lady who?”

      • *

        Phish ? Are you having a laugh ?

    • ???

      Maybe you’ve never been to a proper damn good party ?

  • Troy Leming

    Greatest show I have seen in a long time, first GaGa show ever. True artist, heart felt, and true to her fans. I hope she feels better soon and thank you for such a great experience, our whole family bonded at this show too I am out of the closet, I AM A LITTLE MONSTER!
    Peace and Love Lady GaGa, and thank you for a FANTASTIC performance!

    • Hands UP !

      Thought it said Lemming as your username

    • Petetarus

      Is it true that Gaga encourages her Monsters to bully people who don’t like her?

  • Alex

    You know what you don’t get her your just talking shit artpop and artrave are good I don’t like that she is sick but your just talking shit all I hear is you hatin so fuck off

    • Hands UP !

      Eloquent, sir

    • Adios Felicia

      she is sick, in the head… and her teen and tween fan-base are brainwashed…mostly the ones that arent mentally healthy, those are the main targets… all she really cares about is fame and making money. she only pretends to care to gain more popularity…. any sane person can see that

  • Riverwide

    This tour looks like a huge embarrassment for all involved.

    • Hands UP !

      It’s ART, baby ! (or so I’m told)

  • pinguisini

    i have never heard of a tour having so many bad reviews. is not even in the top 20 tours of the summer for a reason.

    • jaberwoky

      The only bad reviews are from hacks and haters with an agenda, and spend their hours trolling and hating. My advice to you: seek medical help for your obsession.

      • ?

        People are hacks now because they have different tastes to you ?
        That’s way over the top

        • jaberwoky

          In my country mate, bottom of the pile journalists are known as hacks (nuthin way over-the-top at all)!

          • Grow the fuck up

            so peoples’ opinions don’t count?is that what you are saying? Cuz they’re haters?Cuz the bottom of the pile journalist had praised her years before

          • pinguisini

            everyone who sees that she is not all that, is a hater to them. don’t waste time dealing with this troll. is not worth it.

          • W4

            I’ve never been here so I don’t know if it’s bottom of the pile but I do know top of the pile had similar reviews.

          • SPEECHFREEDOM1976

            you are mutton dressed as lamb – time to grow up!

          • jaberwoky

            Ageist comment from a dick-head: nuf said.

          • SPEECHFREEDOM1976

            now you are trying to talk like someone young – how sad!
            act your age you stupid monster!

          • jaberwoky

            …and how exactly would someone old say it Speechfreedom1976? Go on, make me laugh!

          • SPEECHFREEDOM1976

            i wouldn’t say “nuf said.”
            Time for you to move to Florida hun!

          • jaberwoky

            ….been using nuf said since the 1960s, just my little put-down expression. Anyway, hope you’re still rocking out when you’re in your 60s. Good luck with that!

          • SPEECHFREEDOM1976

            ok nuf said

      • pinguisini

        bla bla bla everyone who sees her for what she really is is a hater. you are the one who needs to seek help. you are here defending a coke head, middle of the road pop star who has less hits than Paula Abdul.