The last time global superstar Lady Gaga was in Houston, she was jumping from the roof of NRG Stadium for the Super Bowl LI halftime show. On Tuesday night, Mother Monster returned to the Bayou City in Minute Maid Park for another bewitching performance filled with towering balls of fire, pop bangers, and moving speeches promoting self-acceptance.
Starting the show on her brutalist gray stage, the tireless 36-year-old initially took fans on a nostalgic ride featuring classic hits such as “Bad Romance,” “Just Dance,” and “Poker Face.” While spinning around on stage in a Robocop-looking outfit, the pop-culture icon delivered dramatic, booming vocals as she repeatedly told her “little monsters” to get on their feet and dance.
After the explosive first act, she turned to her latest studio album, Chromatica. Strapped to a medieval-looking operating table, she sang its haunting first song, “Alice.” Talking about the desire to escape into a fantasy world to avoid the pain of reality, the ’90s-influenced track summarized the theme of Gaga’s new tour: forget about the pain in your life with music.
With futuristic, cyberpunk aesthetics and Technicolor lights flashing on giant LED screens, the entire 2020 Chromatica album sounded fierce and mammoth in the packed stadium—finally getting its moment to shine after the global pandemic postponed promo and tour plans.
As spectacular as her explosive, avant-garde pop songs were, it was Gaga’s piano section of the show that truly united the audience of boomers, millennials, and Gen Zers as she banged on the keyboards of her tree-looking piano and sang tracks off her A Star Is Born album.
Dressed in an insect-like outfit with purple tentacles shimmering with glitter, she shared emotional tales about Sonja, her best friend from Texas who passed away from breast cancer. Singing “The Edge of Glory,” Gaga took a moment to thank the packed stadium for their bravery over the last few years, discussing how lonely many people were during the pandemic.
Gaga also performed “Angel Down,” a track off her 2016 album Joanne. Previously performed at her Dallas show this summer, the country-tinged track is Gaga’s answer to the current national political divide. In a time when politics has never been more vile, the New Yorker asked audiences to pray with her for a kinder, braver world.
Speaking of fostering a better world, the Oscar-winning singer selected two local organizations earlier this year to receive funding from her Born This Way Foundation. The Montrose Center, an LGBTQ nonprofit, and Young Audiences of Houston, Inc., which supports children through the arts, were among 22 national organizations selected by the Foundation to receive a combined $1 million from the Kindness in Community Fund, in coordination with Gaga’s Chromatica Ball Tour.
The Grammy-winning worldwide hit “Rain on Me” was perhaps the highlight moment of the night, however. Once she stepped away from the piano and returned to the main stage, she gave audiences one final taste of her latest album. The song, which talks about wiping your tears away and dancing through the hardships in your life, created a palpable energy among the crowd bathed in blue and purple lights as Gaga screamed the now-infamous phrase: “Rain. On. Me.” Although Ariana Grande was nowhere to be found, the track was still a moment of euphoria for those in Minute Maid Park.
Whether she was going through her pop discography or slowing things down with her piano tunes, Lady Gaga proved she’s still a dynamic force in the music industry, and one of the last remaining pop female icons. No matter if she’s jumping off roofs or just swinging a microphone stand around on stage, the woman certainly knows how to work an audience.