Lady Gaga, The Prodigy and one hell of a weekend: Gallery
The stages have been cleared, the grass growing back to its normal state the remnants of a great weekend are now gone.
But the words on Johannesburg’s lips are still ‘Gaga’ and ‘The Prodigy’.
And for good reason, too. Both gave Johannesburg two of the best live shows the city has ever seen.
Gaga with her Born This Way Ball at Soccer City and The Prodigy at Synergy Live at Riversands Farm.
Gaga for gaga
Now, I have said before, I am not a fan of Lady Gaga’s music and I’m still not a fan – I just don’t like pop in general. But there is no denying that woman has got talent.
From arriving on stage on a horse, birthing herself, dancing dripping with sex and magnificence, Black Jesus and legs splayed open on an armchair made of meat, this performance was nothing short of spectacular. Every minute of it.
Everyone I know who was there was blown away. You just had to be there to see how impressive it was. Excellent and very, very slick production aside, Lady Gaga and her troupe were just phenomenal – something that every South African artist should have been there to see.
She sang for most part of her famous dance tracks with a backing track only being used for her very layered choruses, and the dancing formed the entire performance into a moving artwork. And she gripped the audience from the word ‘go’.
Precision, detail and style, not a single performer dropped the ball. Not once. And with the Lady at the helm with less-than-five-minute costume changes for every song, it was held together with style and sheer stage mastery.
However I may have felt that all the pretty lights was the draw card, I was proven wrong by the fact that – showmanship aside – Lady Gaga is one excellent musician.
The point of her music is that it’s accessible, (more often than not) radio-friendly and risqué enough for people to pay attention.
I also could see why people love to hate her, and shake my head at it too – she’s irreverent but without being disrespectful. She’s dangerous without posing any danger. She oozes sex and pushes the boundaries of sexuality without being (entirely) slutty.
Watch fans getting crazy with Heat Magazine in the Monster Pit:
Lady Gaga is just one larger-than-life art form. She is no longer little Stefanie Germanotta who started performing at 11 years old. She has made herself into an icon – an image that people love, look up to and hate.
Her politics are also something to take note of. Her foundation was never mentioned throughout the concert but her message was. She spread her message to her Little Monsters is a big way – some said to the extent of being preachy – that everyone was Born This Way and not give a damn about what others think.
“Not even Black Jesus has any fucks to give,” she said to a cheering and tearing crowd.
Her work outside of her music career is exceptional. Her anti-bullying foundation seems to come from a place of understanding. She says she was bullied as a kid and wants everyone to feel at home with her and with her music.
“You always have a place at my table,” she said.
I don’t know if it is genuine or not and I don’t really care, because the work she does is amazing – something I wish I could do.
(I just wish she’d stop wearing fur, though. It’s not glamorous or fashionable. It just cheapens an otherwise beautiful, all-encompassing representation of our time.)
One hell of a voice
Gimmicks and stage performance aside, what I was really taken by was her natural talent. All stripped down to nothing but piano, her solo rendition of Born This Way was what captivated me.
I never realised just what a stunning voice she has. Accompanied by a very underrated band who deserve far more credit than they get, she could sing Happy Birthday and still bring a lump to my throat with that voice.
This phenomenon of a young woman in all her stage glory, all her insecurities about herself laid bare and all her politics on the table, she isn’t the Gaga of 2008. She is an evolving work of art, changing with every album and every tour. She has come a long way from Where are my keys? I lost my phone to In the religion of the insecure, I must be myself, respect my youth, she may not be a poet, but she has become a symbol of this generation.
Message from the Mother Monster
I feel a lot of her message may have been lost on the pop-loving audience who were just there for the music, but I think she did speak to some people in that crowd, and I like to believe that somewhere in there there’s that kid who was beaten up in school who is thanking her for standing up and speaking for him.
As for the religiously-fuelled disdain, she’s offensive. Yes. Black Jesus ain’t taken to very kindly. Neither is Judas. But these idiots should get over themselves.
I was left gobsmacked. I even forgot that one of the coolest bands, The Darkness, opened for her. They were excellent, energetic and fun with one mad lead singe and crazy antics.
The prodigal geniuses
On the other end of the spectrum this weekend was Synergy Live.
I got to the festival just in time some of the local bands – Desmond and the Tutus, The Narrow and Zebra & Giraffe with their best performance this year – but I was there for UK madmen The Prodigy.
I first saw them 13 years ago with fellow electronic act Faithless. They were icons of my teenage years, who I still love.
With nothing but themselves on stage, The Prodigy did what Gaga didn’t – bring the music and the music alone. From old favourites to new hits, Riversands Farm was filled with the sound of excellent music and energy that came from the band’s core.
The oomph from trio Liam Howlett, Keith Flint and Maxim Reality burst through the audience from the stage and smacked you in the face. The Prodigy needed no gimmicks. All they needed was themselves and their instruments.
They proved yet again why they’re still around, still relevant and still rocking the hell out. They still have it and probably will until one of them keels over on stage.
The band was made for a live stage and their albums don’t do their music enough justice as Maxim and Flint command the crowd like puppet masters.
They say jump, you bloody well jump.
Two performances, two incredible performances and two crazy days later, I am struggling to keep my eyes open. I think I’m still a bit hungover and my body feels a bit broken from dancing so much. But I reckon it was worth it.