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Updated Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 12:46 PM

Lady Gaga delivers bold, spooky show at Tacoma Dome

By Gene Stout
Special to The Seattle Times

Concert review

With characteristic flamboyance, Lady Gaga has dubbed her current touring show “an electro-metal pop opera.”

But that phrase hardly describes the level of excitement she created Monday night at the Tacoma Dome. Concertgoers will surely remember her bold performance as one of the top concerts of the year.

For her opening song Monday at the Tacoma Dome, the 26-year-old pop star rode around the stage atop a magnificent mechanical horse while performing “Highway Unicorn (Road to Love).”

Behind her loomed a spooky-looking medieval castle, an enormous prop that served as a towering backdrop for a colorful, often outrageous production, including dozens of costume changes and special effects and an army of dancers and musicians.

The concert was the first U.S. stop on Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Ball, a world tour that follows the release of her 2011 “Born This Way” album, which celebrates and supports a generation of music fans, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. The tour and the album deal with discrimination, intolerance, bullying and issues of self-worth.

Located in the center of the stage was a “Monster Pit,” a VIP area for the fans she calls her “little monsters” (and for whom she serves as the queenly “Mother Monster”).

Concertgoers used the concert as an opportunity to act and dress as they wished, flying their freak flags without fear of bullying or disapproval. Despite chilly temperatures, costumes with bare shoulders, midriffs and legs were plentiful.

The set list was generously stocked with Lady Gaga’s most popular songs, among them the powerful and rhythmic “Born This Way,” “Bad Romance,” “Just Dance,” “Heavy Metal Lover” and “Americano.”

The mechanical horse and medieval castle were among a mind-boggling array of props, including the giant egg she used at the Grammy Awards and a version of the controversial “meat” dress she wore at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards. Another amazing prop was an animated, disembodied replica of her face that delivered mini sermons to the crowd while floating in a jewel-like box above the stage.

For the song “Heavy Metal Lover,” Lady Gaga again rode around the stage, this time on a three-wheeled motorcycle that looked like an outgrowth of her own body — half machine, half human.

Lady Gaga’s fertile imagination was on full display. One of her themes focused on G.O.A.T., an acronym for “government owned alien territory,” an imaginary place where a new race of humans free of prejudice and intolerance has been spawned.

Before the show, Lady Gaga made an appearance at the colorful Born Brave Bus, a collection of tents offering entertainment, snacks, services and support for her fans in the LGBT community. The cheerful pop star was nearly mobbed by concertgoers while three burly bodyguards nervously scanned the crowd.

Gene Stout: gene@genestout.com


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