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HBOWatch Got Us Some GAGA CHROMATICA BALL!

by Jef Dinsmore
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HBOConcert_GaGaChromatica-1024x565

Well, honestly, I’m not the one to really write this but here it is nonetheless. I know a total of two songs from Lady Gaga, “Born This Way” and “Bad Romance”. What can I say, I’m a Baby Boomer. But the GAGA CHROMATICA BALL just dropped on HBO/Max Saturday night May 25 at 8:00 pm ET. Why did this writer watch it then? A few hours after its debut I was too keyed up to go to bed and decided a late-night binge of the 1-hour 53-minute HBO Concert Special wasn’t going to hurt me. Besides, it is always cool to see the production design and aesthetics of a high-end performance concert regardless if you know the artist and their work or not. 

This site isn’t new to the world of Lady Gaga; we tipped readers off to her Little Monsters Tour back in 2011. It just wasn’t this writer writing that up. Well, cameras gave the Chromatica Ball concert their scrutiny back in 2022 at Dodgers Stadium LA to a sold-out crowd and HBO/Max is just getting around to presenting it as we head into Memorial Day weekend 2024. 

This latest concert is set up with five Acts with each prefaced with an instrumental moment to get set elements and costume changes dealt with. All that is accompanied by a visual light show and video to set the tone. It hits you as unsettling and hypnotic and must truly entrance the 52,000 in attendance. A dazzling array of lights is neverending, the bursts of pyrotechnics pack a punch and shoot high in the air, and the intensity of the choreography and the sweaty energy the dancers give off is incredible. My eyes actually spent more time in those bigger numbers focused on the ensemble as opposed to the singer alone. My ears were focused on her. Lady Gaga is a powerful singer, and the precision and force she places in every note is quite something. All eyes were on her, of course, to see which odd costume she would appear next in and when she took to the uniquely crafted piano for the softer songs. 

Each Act broke down this way – GagaChromatica_pic02-177x300

Opening – 

  • “Bad Romance”
  • “Just Dance”
  • “Poker Face”

Act I

  • “The Operation” (Interlude)
  • “Alice”
  • “Replay”
  • “Monster”

Act II

  • “Flowers” (Interlude)
  • “911”
  • “Sour Candy”
  • “Telephone”
  • “LoveGame”

Act III

  • “The Birth of Freedom” (Interlude)
  • “Babylon”
  • “Free Woman”
  • “Born This Way”

Act IVGagaChromatica_pic3-249x300

  • “Tamara” (Interlude)
  • “Shallow”
  • “Always Remember Us This Way”
  • “The Edge of Glory”
  • “Angel Down”
  • “Fun Tonight”
  • “Enigma”

Finale

  • “Sonnet” (Interlude)
  • “Stupid Love”
  • “Rain on Me”
  • “Hold My Hand”   

“Bad Romance” had high energy pulsing all around for a great opening number; the intimate piano numbers were sincere moments that almost seemed a one-on-one moment among thousands. Two numbers from “A Star Is Born” (no, I did not even see that iteration of the movie) were nice moments and her anthem piece, “Born This Way” started off at the keys before busting loose to close Act III. 

As a funny side note, you could turn this HBO Special into a drinking game. If you take a sip every time she asks the crowd to ‘put your hands up’ you’d be blitzed in no time. But I came to rationalize that she doesn’t spout that phrase as energetic filler but as a call to action to her ‘little monsters’ to get up, make some noise, be a part of this and live it up, live it up with pride! 

In the end, it was a fun experience, even though I didn’t know the majority of the setlist. I may have found a new song I like in “Angel Down,” though it’s an older Gaga tune. This intimate prayer for America was far more moving than any of the highly pumped-up tunes she strutted through….and after it was all said and done at 1:50 am, I was still wide awake.   

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