A Las Vegas star is born!

The air was electric inside the Park Theater at Park MGM where Lady Gaga kicked off her wild Las Vegas residency show, Enigma. The name? Don’t ask Gaga to explain, because it’s just that. An undefinable, otherworldly concept that requires the spectator to put down the smart phone and reignite their imagination through song and dance. And sequins. Lots of sequins. But if I had to help you conceptualize what exactly Enigma is, it’s a reminder that Lady Gaga has come a very, very long way.

To help the 5,000+ people in attendance at the opening show on Friday (Dec. 28), with hundreds of thousands more expected to see it over the course of the next two, maybe three years (Gaga’s words), the pop star interacts with an alien avatar named, yup… Enigma. The lanky, captivating creature is an extension of Gaga – a visual symbol to recall that along the way to sky-high superstardom, she became lost and then found… and then lost again. Enigma is a journey that explores Gaga’s roots as a performer when she played drab nightclubs and shopped in bargain bins, “the part of the brain that you don’t understand” and “the parts of you that feel misunderstood.”

That is a recurring theme throughout the show, and it smacks you in the face during the opening number with the single that started it all, “Just Dance.” Gaga traversed from the Park Theater ceiling down to the stage in similar fashion to her 2017 Super Bowl Halftime Show performance, singing the record-breaking hit before catapulting into “Poker Face.” Wearing a mirrored bodysuit and crown, Gaga fingered a keytar on the way to her new alien palace. The trip down memory lane was quite a spectacle, and even awed Katy Perry, who looked up at a flying Gaga overhead in sheer joy like the rest of us.

Gaga’s early beginnings rushed over the crowd like a wave of intergalactic space dust. When the iconic pop star performed a handful of unexpected fan-favorites (“Dance in the Dark,” “Beautiful, Dirty, Rich,” “The Fame” and even “Government ******,” complete with a couple of ferocious growls and beautifully bizarre, sometimes barely there costumes), it felt like a snuggle with nostalgia.

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During “Aura,” which mentions Enigma by name in the lyrics, Gaga simulates giving birth, or being tortured (or both?) and nearly exposes her private parts – the camera, projecting the show on both walls adjacent to the stage, zoomed in on Gaga’s ****** as she laid down, spread her legs and howled. It was a jarring moment, but a reminder that Gaga on stage was unapologetic and unafraid. She once simulated a bloody death during a performance, purposefully vomited on stage and wore a rotting meat dress, and don’t you forget it. I love Cheek To Cheek Gaga. I love how she graciously, incessantly praised Bradley Cooper during A Star Is Born promo. I love that older generations see her as a multi-faceted, timeless talent. But before global **********, there was a vulnerable singer yearning to be taken seriously. Despite the antics throughout her 10 year+ career, one thing has always remained: “SURPRISE! A POP SHOW! AND THE ***** CAN SING.”

As Gaga floated over the audience in an egg-shaped chair singing “Paparazzi,” antagonized the general admission section with her metallic, fire-breathing Transformer robot machine during “Scheiße” or rocked out to a cover of David Bowie’s “I’m Afraid of Americans,” one thing was refreshingly evident: Gaga is singing live. It’s a sensitive subject on BreatheHeavy to judge whether an artist should sing sans track if they’re pumping out choreographed routines for several hours a night, but regardless of what her fellow Park residents have in store, Gaga proved it can be done, and done right.

Gaga engaged with the Enigma avatar throughout the evening, prompting heart-felt, albeit semi-scripted responses that inspires Gaga to reaffirm what we all know, but don’t practice enough: be your own biggest fan.

“You go home and you listen to that inner voice inside of you, and you believe in yourself,” she said during her performances of “Million Reasons” and “Yoü And I.” “I swear I’ve been to the grave and back, and that is what heals you. You heal you.” Gaga’s experience and talent shined through the theater as she played piano gymnastics – sitting on the bench with one leg up, squatting, standing then slouching again. She couldn’t sit still, and it made for a visual feast even during the melancholy moments.

Gaga was even reduced to tears during the show’s encore, A Star Is Born standout and Oscar/Grammy-nominated song, “Shallow,” when recalling the extreme scrutiny she faced on her way to the top.

“For a really long time, I felt so misunderstood — [people] thought the way I dress, the way I talk, my attire, was shallow,” she sobbed. “But this s–t is deep as f–k.”

Enigma will revolutionize how we see Sin City residencies. Britney Spears, Bruno Mars, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Elton John and Jennifer Lopez changed peoples’ perceptions that Las Vegas isn’t a destination where your career collects dust before vanishing into oblivion, but none impacted the city like Lady Gaga will. When you think her stardom can’t reach new heights, Gaga pulls off another mystifying move that changes course for all artists to come. If there’s anything you should take away from Enigma, it’s not the dazzling display, powerhouse vocals, gargantuan chrome robots, neon-green unitards, the unimaginable amount of revenue it’s generating or her insatiable appetite for success… it’s that Lady Gaga has skyrocketed miles higher than most people could in several lifetimes because she nurtures her inner spirit.

During the show, Gaga reminded us that despite how famous she is, how many billions of people recognize her face or name… there’s still so  much we won’t ever know about her. Our generation’s Enigma.


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