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Lady Gaga Brought An Emotional, Historic Party To Wrigley Field

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 26, 2017 2:40PM

Lady Gaga takes in the crowd, photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

I've been to many memorable shows at Wrigley Field over the 12 years the ballpark has allowed musical acts to use its off nights to turn the stadium in to a concert venue, but none has been quite like the spectacle and intimacy Lady Gaga brought to town last night. Gaga might have made history by being the first female to headline the venue, but she also made history by being the first to turn it into a club, a cabaret, a piano bar, a coffeehouse, and a Broadway style spectacle—all over the course of two hours.

At once point Gaga noted that she thought it was a shame it had taken over 100 years for a woman to headline the joint, and while she felt it was a great honor to be the first she winked, “Welcome to the motherf***ing womb!”

The show was broken into six thematic acts, which allowed for various costume changes and stage configurations, letting Gaga drastically alter moods without breaking the flow of the overall show. Because of that, her setlist didn’t deviate from previous shows on the current Joanne tour. But there was a once-in-a-life feeling that ran throughout the proceedings, driven by Gaga’s many asides and personal remembrances.

Gaga has spent a lot of time in Chicago over the years, and for a while actually had a place she rented in town, so she’s no stranger to town. So when she gave the city a shoutout, the crowd knew it was coming from a personal place, and not just checking off another box on yet another tour stop. And it didn't seem goofy when, in the midst of a particularly emotional rendering of “Million Reasons,” Gaga paused to say, “You know who’s my favorite persona that’s from Chicago. My little dog Asia.”

Lady Gaga performs "Born This Way," photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

Throughout the evening Gaga recognized many family members and friends that had brought her to where she is today. She wished her dad a happy birthday, and we spotted him in the crowd beaming and adorably adorned in a Cubs jersey that read “Germanotta” across the back.

Gaga also paid tribute to her close friend Sonja Durham, who had recently passed away and some of whose ashes had been scattered in the park earlier that day. Gaga said with a mixture of tears and fond remembrance, “So, I am not the first woman to headline Wrigley Field, because my girl Sonja ht the stage just before me.”

Gaga kept the comments throughout the evening mostly personal, but a few political moments snuck in. She touched upon the importance of ending gun violence, saying, “I don’t know why they don’t talk about the South Side of Chicago every day in the news, but I pray they do.” And she made a few comments about the importance of supporting the LGBTQA community, a portion of her fanbase with whom she has long been a vocal ally. But aside from those few moments, she left current events outside.

Lady Gaga takes a solo turn at the piano in a custom "Lady Gaga" Cubs jersey, photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
Which makes sense. Gaga’s thing has never been about resistance; it’s alway been about inclusion. And she thanked her fans for being with her over the last 10 years and helping “spur the message of love across the world.”

And the love was unstoppable once it started rolling. The fourth acts might have been the best example of how quickly Gaga can shift gears and keep the crowd with her. She took a bawdy cabaret take on “Come To Mama” that segued immediately into a solo piano version of “The Edge Of Glory,” which had everyone reaching for tissues. But by the time she hit “Born This Way” right afterward she had everybody dancing, including the security guards.

Through all this I realized that while Gaga was once considered one of the weirdest and artsiest megastars in the music world, the times are such that she now seems pretty normal. What seemed shocking 10 years ago is now pretty mainstream, and I think Gaga deserves a lot of credit for that, in the best of possibly way. At the end of her rendition of “Joanne,” Gaga said, “I love every single thing that made me who I am.” It was a simple but powerful statement; a nod to life's triumphs, hardships and failures. And I left thinking she was not only right on, but hoped everyone else leaving the stadium felt the same way about themselves.

Full setlist for Lady Gaga at Wrigley Field, August 25, 2017

Diamond Heart
Poker Face
Perfect Illusion
John Wayne
Just Dance
Come to Mama
The Edge of Glory
Born This Way
Angel Down
Bad Romance
The Cure

Million Reasons