Neither the prayer vigil held against her just outside the SM Mall of Asia Arena nor the show being put under threat of cancellation if it proved to be “offensive to morals and good customs” stopped American singer-songwriter Lady Gaga from staging a performance where she sometimes simulated sex acts, “gunned” down people onstage, and mouthed expletives.
The hour and a half “The Born This Way Ball” held in Manila on May 21 and 22 certainly made jaws drop not only for its elaborate costumes, stage design and music arrangements, but for pushing the envelope in direct defiance of her critics’ call against her image and music. Lady Gaga sang with extra aplomb the songs “Judas” and “Just Dance” that have been alleged to be “blasphemous” and “promoting homosexuality and pornography,” respectively, by several groups here and in Indonesia and South Korea a few days ago.
“Oh, you like this song…stay with me! Hands up --- higher!” Lady Gaga screamed back at the audience as soon as the opening strains of “Judas” played just 20 minutes into the show.
Later, Lady Gaga would seemingly address the issues being raised against her, saying that some would be standing by her “forever” after the show, while there will be those who will try to “betray” her. She broke down in tears when she touched on her pro-gay stance.
“People need to be free of who they are and to be proud, feel valued,” she said before segueing to a piano version of her song, “Hair,” which has become an anthem to many of her gay fans.
There were moments when the audience appeared to have been stunned by the strangeness that unfolded before them. The Gothic castle set from which Lady Gaga emerged astride a black unicorn and flanked by her gun-totting army of dancers and backup singers kept swallowing and disgorging the singer between numbers.
At one point, Lady Gaga emerged with meat carcasses hung behind her then she threw herself head down into a grinder. In another spot number, she was a headless bride who seemed to levitate across the stage. Still in another, the singer wore a bra with gun barrel for cones.
Of special note was when she emerged scantily clad and lying prone on a customized motor bike with what seemed to be the Philippine flag hanging behind it.
“I am not an alien, I am not woman, not a man, I am not human…I am all your dreams and your potentials,” she declared.
The first show ever to be held at the venue, “The Born This Way Ball” attracted a substantial number of fans, many of whom are teenagers and yuppies who paid as much as 15,000 pesos per ticket.
Several fans came dressed ala-Lady Gaga which did not escape the singer’s attention.
“I can see you, my little monsters---put your paws up!” she said encouragingly to those standing near the stage.
The show ended with the encore numbers “Marry The Night” and “Edge Of Glory,” two of her most recent hits.
“I knew this was my destiny but I had no idea what was on the other side of that door…and it was you…you taught me to never give up on myself,” she told fans before leaving the stage.
By JOJO P. PANALIGAN