This doesn’t mean to be a sensationalist post, wading into the Madonna versus Lady Gaga feud for the sake of it. In fact, whilst on my way to Twickenham Stadium on Saturday, I did ask a friend if it was all for real. He thinks so. I’m not entirely sure. But one thing I did notice whilst watching Gaga on stage was that there were a few things I couldn’t ignore in the light of Madonna’s concert in Hyde Park this year.
To put this post into perspective, I’m a huge Madonna fan. I grew up on her music and loved how she pushed the boundaries. She has always been different whether it feels contrived or not. Lady Gaga on the other hand has a different appeal. She’s got a great voice and I just love her as an artist. So what caught my attention? OK, I’ll list them …
Voice: It goes without saying that Gaga’s voice is getting stronger with time. She belted out her tunes at such an impressive level that poor Madonna’s troubles with Hyde Park’s sound system seemed like a blessing in disguise.
Black Jesus: Gaga sang the song and had a Black Jesus on stage. Madonna didn’t but she did sing Like A Prayer, which had a Black Jesus in the video.
Machine Guns: Both Gaga and Madonna had machine guns on stage. They both aimed and shot their victim down.
Musical Instruments: Madonna strummed her guitar whilst Gaga played a number of keyboard instruments. Gaga’s musical background shone through in her versatility.
Songs: Gaga was quite late coming on stage, so she couldn’t sing all the songs she wanted to. She played until the plug was ready to be pulled and I’m not sure if she would have sung Alejandro as well as other faves but in short, a few tracks were missed out.
Madonna also didn’t play all her classic songs but for different reasons. Her catalogue is huge and of course, she had to focus on more recent hits. Thank goodness for the party which my friend and I ended up at – in a penthouse flat across from Hyde Park. We danced the rest of the night away to Madonna’s classic tracks.
Theatricality: Gaga arrived on a horse. She also rode a motorbike, leaning forward with her arms forming the front forks, which she drove around the stage. Think Born This Way but for real. And as you would expect, the staging and costumes were both sophisticated and slightly out of this world. With projections and stage sets, this multimedia show was pure theatricality.
Madonna’s gig on the other hand had a more filmic quality about it. If the stage wasn’t her performance space, it was a film set with Gang Bang being the most cinematic performance. Not quite Tarantino but almost.
Fans: Whatever similarities there were in theatricality and music production, the way Madonna and Lady Gaga interacted with their fans created the biggest distinction. Love Madonna as I do, the Queen of pop did not really engage with her audience. She spoke to us sometimes but after seeing Blur at Hyde Park, I realised that it was possible for a performer on that stage to really connect with the crowd. Damon Albarn had everyone captivated (well, up front anyway) whilst with Madonna, there seemed to be this invisible wall between the stage and audience.
With Lady Gaga on the other hand, this fourth wall was broken down. There was a show-and-tell with her biggest fans in the Monster pit whilst during the last song, Gaga picked a number of fans out of the crowd – as she did one lucky fan whilst singing Princess Die. Her fans danced with her and at the end, they went below stage with her as the show came to a close. There is no question that Gaga is the most humble performer I have ever witnessed on stage. If there is someone who appreciates her fans, it is this woman.
Conclusion: I don’t really have one. I’m not going to say that one is better than the other. Goodness knows, if I could achieve a fraction of what they have then maybe I would have some right to judge. I just wanted to put it out there that these two performers are as different as they are similar to each other.
And now for some photos …
I took this on the train from Victoria:
A bit of Twickenham Stadium.
Once the concert had ended, it was a bit challenging getting to the train station.
So needless to say, it was good to be back home.
ps. A snapshot from Madonna’s gig.