A quick confession – I’m a Lady Gaga fan. There I’ve said it.
So when I heard she was coming to Dubai, for her first ever concert in the Middle East, I told DH we were going.
We don’t always have a lot of luck with this – the last concert we were meant to attend together (Eric Clapton – my taste is eclectic!) was looking good, until DH suddenly got called out to New Zealand at the last minute.
This time, it was all systems go, and we made our way to the venue, the impressive Meydan racecourse – timing our entrance so as to minimise standing around melting in the energy-sapping, hair-curling humidity, but not wanting to miss the fanfare of her arrival on stage.
Well, let’s just say we could have gone out for a four-course meal, thrown a few shapes on the dancefloor, and still made it on time.
9pm came and went. 9.30pm. 10pm (Yawn). 10.15pm. And on a school night, too. By 10.25pm, with beads of sweat making a trickly descent down my forehead, I was getting a bit fed up.
“It wasn’t like this at Jesus Jones,” said DH (he doesn’t get out to many concerts!) I had to laugh, because Jesus Jones must have been performing in the late 80s.
“Well, it is Lady Gaga,” I reminded him. “She can get away with being a diva.”
(And requesting black satin drapes in her hotel room, silver satin sheets, an oxygen tank and peanut butter containing flax seed and no more than 4g of sugar, if the Daily Mirror is to be believed.)
But you know what, when she did finally come on (at 10.30pm), wearing suitably eccentric golden wings, she was adorable and instantly forgivable. “Marhaba Dubai. My name is Lady Gaga,” she called out, kicking off an hour and a half of high-energy, crowd-pleasing hits, bizarre wig and costume changes, and plenty of emotionally charged audience interaction.
“They used to tell me I was crazy, I would never come to the Middle East … I have waited so long…begged,” she shakily told her legions of fans, one of whom held a sign picturing Gaga in a burqa with the words, “My mum made you a burqa – will you wear it?”
She seemed ridiculously pleased to have made it to the Arab world – repeating messages of gratitude, acceptance and tolerance – and stuck to her word to tone down her performance to respect the UAE’s conservative sensibilities. “I want to speak Arabic so badly but I’m terrible at it,” the 28-year-old pop star giggled, before stammering her way through the Arabic for: “Hello, how are you my little monsters?”
There was no nudity, no on-stage costume changes or pole dancing; instead she dazzled with her artistry, panache, glitz, great voice – yes, she can sing – and all-round randomness (her most “way out” costume being a cross between a dalmatian and an octopus).
Shooting laser beams, a colourful and equally eccentric dance troupe, and an extravagant stage added to the mélange. Then all too soon, it was over. Her last song – Swine, complete with pig masks – was perhaps not the best-advised. But she followed this with an enchanting encore – my favourite song, Gypsy, belted out under the stars and bringing an unforgettable show to a climactic end. Lady Gaga beamed and took a final bow, leaving us with one more Arabic word: “Shukran… I love you.”
Come again soon Lady Gaga! It was our pleasure.