March 16, 2009 / 3:29 AM / 10 years ago

Lady GaGa wows with big beats, bluesy surprises

American pop singer and songwriter Lady GaGa performs at the Isle of MTV music concert in Floriana, outside Valletta in this June 25, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Even before “queen of all media” Perez Hilton took the stage and proclaimed her “the new princess of pop,” Lady GaGa showed she’s a serious contender to Madonna’s crown Friday at the Wiltern.

She might be a relative newcomer, but the artist born Stefani Joanne Germanotta commanded the stage with a royal air during her hour-long set, at times even sporting a glowing scepter.

With two chart-topping singles to her credit and her debut album, “The Fame,” climbing the upper reaches of the Billboard 200, GaGa’s first theater tour is a hot ticket — and the Lady did not disappoint. Borrowing from Madonna, Grace Jones, David Bowie and Daryl Hannah’s “Blade Runner” replicant, GaGa put on a compelling show revolving around her mysterious persona, a trio of leather-jacketed dancers, multiple costume changes and props and a lone DJ providing musical accompaniment.

Old-schoolers might bemoan the lack of a live band, but GaGa’s eye candy and an onslaught of beats delivered by DJ Space Cowboy filled the void effectively. Opening with the dance-pop basher “Paparazzi,” trapped on a platform that complemented her angular modern ensemble, GaGa focused on the beat-heavy pop that comprises most of “Fame.”

But midset she pulled out a surprise: a translucent purple piano she claimed was designed specifically to match her dress, made of giant plastic bubbles. At the keyboard she proceeded to perform a drastically rearranged bluesy lounge version of her current hit “Poker Face,” proving her talent extends beyond the dance floor.

It’s the sort of stunt a veteran artist pulls after performing one of their biggest hits for decades, but GaGa had the chutzpah to circumvent the wait and go directly for the kill. She followed with the not-yet-released doo-wop-flavored space oddity “Future Love,” again performed on piano while she serenaded a glowing mannequin.

In an age of too much information, one of the most refreshing things about GaGa is her mystery. She often hid behind shades, and her mostly incomprehensible, coy and semi-robotic stage patter did little to tell us who’s that Lady.

“Some people say Lady GaGa is a lie, and they’re right,” she said at one point. “But every day I kill to make it true.”

Whatever the case, by the time GaGa pulled out her big hits, “Just Dance” and the more familiar version of “Poker Face,” she had transformed the Wiltern into a joyous dance party that might have made even that other Stefani a little jealous.

Editing by Sheri Linden at Reuters

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