Lady Gaga isn’t like the rest of us.
I'm not talking about how the artist born Stefani Germanotta is able to transform herself into a blue octopus while singing "Paparazzi" in her most successfully ridiculous costume during her artRAVE: The ARTPOP Ball tour at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday.
I’m referring to Gaga’s enormous capacity to give. “I’m different from everyone else,” she told her crowd of adoring fans during an introduction to a solo piano version of “Born the Way.” “If I’m left with nothing, but you’re left with anything that I had a whole lot to do with, that’s enough for me.”
On the other hand, Gaga is also a woman of the people, exactly like the rest of us. “I’m an American just like everybody else,” she said, while looking like a psychedelic Pippi Longstocking in multicolored pigtails during “Applause,” one of far too many songs she performed from her disappointingly dull 2013 album, ARTPOP. “I have a job, and I want to do it well.”
The 28 year old Gaga songwriter and provocateur does it well enough. She’s a hero to her fan base, and she nurtured that connection with a human touch in South Philly, reading fans letters to her aloud tossed at her feet, and then inviting the lucky Little Monsters backstage.
But she doesn’t do it as well as she used to. Since her 2008 debut breakthrough The Fame, the quality of the songwriting on Gaga’s albums has steadily diminished. ARTPOP is loaded with perfectly dreadful tunes like “Manicure” that are stunningly hamhanded compared to delightfully catchy early Gaga gems like “Poker Face” and “LoveGame,” the latter of which she isn’t bothering to do on her current tour.
Instead, she seems intent on forcing her commercial dud of a new album on her fans, performing all but one of the unsubtle ARTPOP tracks in an hour and 40 minute show that left room for little else.
Amidst the costume and wig changes and phallic flowers that popped up during “Venus” in an otherwise unimaginatively staged show, she did show off her musical chops, on piano and vocals, particularly on “Born This Way” and a slowed take on “Do What U Want“ that was superior to the R. Kelly duet version. But the show was seriously marred by too many electro powered would-be dance cuts from ARTPOP whose weaknesses were exposed whenever she reached back to her more enticing greatest hits.
Gaga returns to the area to play Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on June 28.
Previously: Listen to the new Roots album Folllow In The Mix on Twitter