Lady Gaga's Saturday-night concert proved to be a shot at redemption for the pop-up music venue Meridian Island Gardens on Watson Island. Friday night, after sets by Mark Ronson and Lizzo, Harry Styles was forced to cancel his headlining performance due to severe weather. The venue kicked attendees out at the request of Miami Fire Rescue, forcing thousands of concertgoers to wade through ankle-deep water and floating barricades under a torrential downpour. Pepsi, the concert's corporate sponsor, announced early Saturday morning it would issue full refunds for the event as well as reimburse ticketholders for rideshare costs.
The rain continued well into Saturday evening, casting a cloud of uncertainty over one of the most anticipated pre-Super Bowl events of the weekend. Fortunately for Little Monsters, the rain cleared up by the time doors opened at 8:30 p.m. Over the next three hours, fans bided their time in long lines for drinks, took photos at Gaga-themed pop-up installations, and schmoozed with RuPaul's Drag Race alum Shangela, who walked around the venue to greet fans and pose for photos.
Gaga began her set shortly before 11:30. As she did for her Super Bowl halftime performance in 2017, the pop star entered the venue from above, flying over fans' heads on wires that lowered her and pulled her back up as she made her way to the stage to the tune of her breakthrough single "Just Dance."
Over the span of about 90 minutes, Gaga performed a roadshow version of her Las Vegas residency, Enigma, for eager South Florida fans. In order to take the show out of Sin City's Park Theater, she was forced to cut some of the production's more intriguing elements, such as a massive Iron Maiden-worthy mechanical spider and her cover of David Bowie's "I'm Afraid of Americans."
Despite the edits, this portable, truncated version of Enigma maintained Gaga's emo-theater-kid flourishes, many of which were met with screams of devotion among fans in the pit and abject confusion in the VIP areas on the second and third floors of the venue.
At one point in the show, during a monologued riff on therapy and psychological projection, Gaga repeatedly asked the crowd to tell her to go fuck herself. Fans on the floor ate it up, screaming it louder every time she begged for more. She followed that by licking and simulating oral sex on a dancer's middle finger. On the second floor, where VIPs enjoyed the show on couches with bottle service, audience members could be seen searching other concertgoers' faces for an explanation for Gaga's banter and antics.
It's the sort of thing you see at shows where the audience is split between die-hards and casual fans who happen to be wealthy enough to drop big money to see an artist they passively enjoy. This schism is always entertaining to observe, but it was particularly pronounced and hilarious to witness with an artist such as Lady Gaga, who — love her or hate her — rarely changes her performances to accommodate her audience. Case in point: During her performance with Tony Bennett at Radio City Music Hall in 2015 in front of a mostly boomer and septuagenarian audience, she sang songs from the Great American Songbook through sips of Jameson while wearing a see-through gown with nipple pasties that elicited a gasp from the crowd. She does not give a fuck.
Still, it's understandable that fair-weather fans were puzzled by the performance at times. Even the most devoted of Little Monsters would admit the show's story line is hazy at best and sloppy at worst. A hologram of Gaga named Enigma transports the singer into the future and guides her through the show to help her avoid nameless dangers along the way. There's some anime thrown in there too for whatever reason. It suffices to say, the show's narrative arc was barely affected when she cut an entire section from the show.
Despite the technological trickery, the show was most successful when its star sat at the piano and played straight-up bar rock during "Yoü and I." As she has done since her early days, she played with her legs up on the piano and strummed the guitar with her studded heels.
Though sequins and elaborate stage shows are elemental parts of Gaga's artistry, she also knows she's at her best when she's at the piano. After bringing her dancers back out for disco-pop dance numbers "Bad Romance" and "Born This Way," she closed the show in a vintage Lady Gaga T-shirt while belting out "Shallow" from A Star Is Born. Even the most casual fans sang the high notes on that one.
- "Just Dance"
- "Dance in the Dark"
- "Edge of Glory"
- "Million Reasons"
- "Yoü and I"
- "Bad Romance"
- "Born This Way"
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