Aside from the attendant cavalcade of high-cost, high-impact, high-celeb-count advertising that likely you won’t have seen on these shores unless you were watching a dodgy US stream or have caught up via an array of ‘watch the ads’ reviews, Superbowl LI (51 for the less Roman among us) brought with it Lady Gaga.
If you only have a mere eleven seconds to spare, you can catch the denouement and the finest, most memorable mic-drop-vanishing-act you might ever care to witness here: http://bit.ly/2kpF6tf
If you happen to have a full 13 minutes 26 seconds to spare (in these hectic times, that’s less than quarter of an hour, people!) then I thoroughly recommend you watch the whole thing here: http://bit.ly/2kwJW8N
Love or loathe her, you cannot ever question Gaga’s exacting standards of both sound and image nor her sheer professionalism, and rather than rely on a host of other (“ooh look, it’s Bruno Mars!”) surprise extras to power her performance (Beyoncé had been rumoured to be joining her for the power-packed “Telephone”) she made it all about her, and America, and inclusiveness, and her.
Camp, overblown, impressive, extraordinary, fearless, she literally flew through two American standards and six Gaga hits, and while not riding atop a giant mechanical lion Katy Perry style, she managed to deliver:
- * Some 300 or so (supposedly Intel co-ordinated) light-bearing drones rising high into the sky behind her opening song from the stadium rooftop
- * The light-politico juxtaposition of “God Bless America” with Woodie Guthrie’s Americana protest song “This Land Is Your Land”
- * One of the most impressive entrances into a show ever, flinging herself comically off the roof of the stadium
- * Her touching “Hey day, Hi mom!” shout-out from the piano
- * Her being rather uncomfortably manhandled round the stage like a mannequin, and the general intensely pumped look on her face throughout
- * Some fantastically inventive and on-point choreography (it’s hard to dance quite so energetically and still manage to perform so impressively live – apparently she practises singing live while working out)
- * Stars, Spangles, but less “Ban Her!”s outrage courtesy of wardrobe malfunctions or offensive outbursts
- * A black and silver keytar and a kryptonite-style phone
- * One of the best set of pipes in the business bar none
- * One of the best exits to a set ever courtesy of her majestic, firework-popping vanishing act (see above)
- * Some of the finest pop tunes ever released impeccably performed by one of the best set of pipes in the business
To pull off such a spectacle requires a hell of a lot of craft, creativity, co-ordination and practice, and it’s no surprise that Lady Gaga achieved this with such supreme precision and panache. Previous half-time performances have often faced technical and synchronisation challenges facing stadium acoustics normally designed for lo-fi P.A. announcements, but Gaga’s production team delivered superbly aligned and mixed live vox, smart live arrangements and backing tracks in perfect harmony. This is no doubt primarily down to Gaga’s own militantly forensic and ruthless attention to detail (she apparently stipulated that all the stadium lights were turned off during the performance, including those in the press booths and toilets) and boy did it show.
A truly flawless, epic, energetic and inspiring performance.
Ben Harrison – Chief Planning Officer