Updated: Jul 30
The musical phenomenon known as Lady Gaga performed to a sold out crowd at Hershey Park Stadium in Hershey, PA on August 28, 2022. Lady Gaga has a storybook career that is shrouded by personal tragedy and triumph. She’s the young woman that was told she wasn’t good enough, that show would never make it. She’s the one who was bullied by other NYU students who made a Facebook page entitled “Stefani Germanotta, you will never be famous.” She suffers from PTSD from being raped at the age of 19 and suffers from fibromyalgia which nearly derailed her career later in life. With all of this, Lady Gaga was the first woman in history to win an Oscar, a Grammy, BAFTA, and a Golden Globe all in the same year. And now in 2022 her postponed Chromatica Ball Tour is selling out stadiums around the world. Her show in Hershey was the stadiums highest grossing show since the Rolling Stones played there in 2005.
Lady Gaga performed a 22-song set that lasted just over 2 hours. The set list ranged over her entire catalogue from her first single Just Dance to her latest Hold My Hand from the Top Gun: Maverick soundtrack. She sang, danced, played the piano, told stories, and cried. She took the crowd on an emotional roller coaster that they will never forget. The crowd was a mix of families bringing their little girls to their first concert (lots of girl dads covered in glitter), woman for their girl’s night out, young adults that wanted a free space to express themselves without judgement and every LGBTQIA+ individual that was able to get there. This made for the most amazing night.
Lady Gaga show was broken down into acts. Each act started with a video that led into the performance. This gave time for wardrobe and stage changes. Her Prelude, or show opener, included Bad Romance, Just Dance and Poker Face. She started the set out on a second level of the main stage, she was encased in a rigid costume that reminded me of something that is worn in futuristic sci-fi movies. It rotated around while she sang. Her dancers and band performed on the stage below. Lady Gaga’s stage was massive, it contained 5 huge video screens and two walkways out in the crowd.
Lady Gaga Act I included Alice, Replay and Monster. The stage lights turned red and Lady Gaga appeared on the left of the stage and performed Alice while tilted on a concrete slab. Replay and Monster both featured her dancing with her crew on the main stage. It was during this act that I notice the entire floor of fans had bracelets that lit up during certain parts of songs in particular colors to match the stage lighting. It was crazy to see thousands of hands in the air that were in unison with the stage production. Act II included 911, shortened versions of Sour Candy and Telephone and closed out with an extended version of Love Game. Act III included Babylon, Free Woman and Born This Way. She performed part of Free Woman while walking through the crowd to the second stage. She grabbed the hands of a little girl and danced with her for a few seconds along the way. Lady Gaga had the shiniest gold suit on that shimmered in the lights as she danced upon the stage prior the start of Born This Way. She took her seat at her giant piano that was covered in tree branch structures. She commented on how much love she felt and saw as she came through the crowd, she said she saw so many people knew exactly who they were. She also said that even if you didn’t know who you were yet that you’d find out and if someone asked details that you can’t give, she said she always answers, “I was born this way.” She then dedicated the song to all the LGBT+ audience members. There is no place more than the piano that Lady Gaga shines. When she isn’t dancing her personality and voice just shine. This is the woman who started her career with broken confidence, hid behind masks and costumes to make her light shine. She stopped mid verse after she sang. he made you perfect baby. She said did you hear what I said, you were made perfect. She went on and said, “I may not feel perfect or be perfect in any way, I may be wrong, I may be insecure but if someone comes pressing onto me, I always say (singing) but I am perfect in my own way.” This moment was insanely powerful to watch, I have followed her career since the beginning and to see how far she has come in her confidence was truly breathtaking. She went on to mention the LGBTQ+ community again, she said she always asked why she loves the community so much and she said because I’ve always watched you lead the world with love. The cameras panned out the audience members around the stage, vastly of this community, everyone hugging, kissing, and crying. I loved being in a safe space for a few hours. She finished the rest of the song singing and dancing with her crew from the second stage.
With Act IV comes an extreme of emotion. Lady Gaga brought her alter ego Stefani along for this journey. She performed Shallow, Always Remember Us This Way, The Edge of Glory, Angel Down, Fun Tonight and Enigma. This part of the set was somber and emotional. It started out with the whole audience singing along to Shallow including a boy in front of me that was maybe 5-6 years old. I was so happy to hear this song live. Before she went into Always Remember Us This Way, she said how crazy, hard, painful, and scary the last few years have been. She went on to speak about how she saw a lot of bravery, courage, and kindness. She also spoke about all the alone time when people wanted and needed to be together, and that people want to forget that time, so she wanted to remember us just like this. She then started Always Remember Us This Way and stopped a few bars in and said I want to dedicate this song to my family. This was the start of all the emotions flooding both Stefani and the audience. Her performance was raw and beautiful. She got to the end of the song and stopped to say she loved her family very much. She sang the last few words and continued to play the piano. She said wasn’t it nice, the first time after COVID, and you got to sit down and eat dinner with your family. She started to tear up and you could hear the fragile breaks in her voice. Lady Gaga went into The Edge of Glory and the audience started to sing it right back to her, during the second verse she said, “man I love being on the East Coast, … I may live on the West Coast, but you all know where I’m from.” She laughed and said, “I only moved out west because I get in trouble when I am out here.” She mixed between singing and speaking through the whole song, you could see and hear how much the pandemic really affected her, she said I don’t know why I am so emotional but I’m sure most of us were teared up by this point.
She gave another short speech and the performed Angel Down. After that performance she asked if everyone was having fun tonight (a lead into her next song) she then said, “I guarantee you that’s there’s gonna be someone in the audience tonight that is not having a good time, there’s always somebody.” She said if you know my record “Chromatica” then you might know this next song. She said I wrote it in California and the audience groaned, she said I wrote the whole record there, I sat on my front porch and say long smoking cigarettes, one after another, 3 packs a day and drink coffee. I turned to my wife and said she’s a true New Yorker. Lady Gaga went on, explaining her friends would come up and say let’s go downstairs and write some music, she would tell them, but you don’t understand, I’m mad, I was so fucking mad. She was in pain and sad and didn’t think she’d ever be able to tour again, that she didn’t know if she could show up. So, she wrote Fun Tonight about all those nights that her friends were having fun and she wasn’t. I honestly couldn’t imagine being in her position, you could just see the sad, mad and all the other emotions just pouring out of her at this show. Between her health issues and the pandemic, you could see the toll that it all took on her, but you could also feel the release and relief of all things being on stage. She performed half alone then the band came in at this point you could see her soul make her body alive again, Stefani left and Lady Gaga came back. She ended Act IV with Enigma. The audience went from a funeral and burial to a rave and revival.
The Finale made its way back to the main stage with extended versions of Stupid Love and Rain on Me. During this set Lady Gaga sang and danced her way across the stage clad in lack leather shorts and a black leather jacket, bringing a little rock and roll into the pop church. The whole audience danced with their hands in the air. It was obvious that even after nearly two hours that no one wanted this party to end. I failed to mention earlier but it showed back up in this set, was the amount of fire that was used during this show. Huge fireballs going off from both stages as well as the middle section of the arena, I wasn’t super close but could feel the intense heat each time that went off. The fire was heavily used for the last 3 songs of the night.
Lady Gaga ended this roller coaster of a show with her latest single, Hold My Hand. Armed with her monster claw hand she belted the hell out of this song. I cannot say enough about her voice, her emotion, and her performance. As soon as she hit the chorus the fire balls when flying and a guitar of fire showed up behind her on the stage. As she hit the end she jumped over the fire and dramatically ended the show as only she can.
What a night! An incredible evening of music, dance, stories, and community. A show where everyone was welcome, and everyone could truly be free. Thank you Lady Gaga for your rawness, your vulnerability and honesty. Thank you for providing a safe place for all to come together and forget the bullshit for a few hours. To all the fans that showed up, you all rock. The Little Monsters know how to fucking party.