Sunday, January 10, 2010

Lady Gaga @ Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, 13 December 2009

The Bill Graham Civic Auditorium is owned by the city of San Francisco. In its time it has hosted an NBA team, the Democratic National Convention, and now Lady Gaga. last time I went to the Bill Graham it was a seated venue. Now that it is configured for standing on the floor area, plus seated bleachers, it has a capacity of about 7,000 which makes it San Francisco's biggest venue.

I took my teenage protege to this concert and she is still several inches smaller than me. She didn't want to venture into the seething mass of adults on the floor, so we initially sat up in the bleachers. We had an OK view, supplemented by video screens, but the sound was terrible. I think when you get up near the roof of these old buildings you get lots of sound reflections which mean you hear a fuzz. Later we descended to the floor where we could see and hear what was going on.

2009 was Lady Gaga's year. She seems like one of those talented sports figures who appear every so often and appear to be complete players even as teenagers. Even Madonna took years to achieve a similar mastery of all the elements of Pop: music, fashion, interviews, videos.

The concert was fun. It was definitely a large scale production with many dancers. There were occasional glimpses of musicians but I believe most of the music was pre-recorded. As with most of these type of shows, some of the vocals were also pre-recorded, with some parts of the vocals (especially the choruses) being also sung live. This doesn't offend me, Gaga clearly did sing some of the show, and it is surely physically impossible to dance, hang upside down and sing at the same time.

The only thing that Lady Gaga has not completely mastered is the talking to the audience bit. She has obviously read my unpublished article on how you have to suck up to SF audiences, but her stories do tend to ramble on a bit. Still, I did believe that she was enjoying herself as much as anyone can in such a situation. I felt much the same.

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