Just like Madonna and Britney Spears before her, Lady Gaga knows that there is no such thing as bad publicity when you are in the business of selling music and concert tickets.
And so with careful measure the pop sensation has created a live show that has just the right amount of shock factor. Yes she curses like a sailor, simulates sex and smears herself in blood. But the most controversial moments, when a girl vomits all over the singer and when Gaga munches on a heart while crying tears of blood, are toned down by appearing on a video reel. Like any savvy pop star, Gaga can see the dollar line in the sand.
Despite reports that the Monster Ball tour was not suitable for young children, there were still a fair few kiddies in the 16,000 strong crowd at Burswood Dome. Two girls around five were sitting right behind me. The pair happily sang along to early numbers Just Dance, LoveGame and Boys Boys Boys, but halfway through they ran out of steam and looked more bored than shocked or scared. Meanwhile several teens and younger women were stretchered out of the venue appearing to be suffering from heat or exhaustion.
While there is no doubting this was not kiddie fare, truth be told there really was nothing Gaga did that hasn't been done before. The biggest influence was, of course the queen of controversy, Madonna, but there was also elements of Alice Cooper's shock theatrics and a fair dose of cheesy musical theatre.
Following a narrative borrowed from The Wizard of Oz in which Gaga and her friends get lost on their way to the Monster Ball and must follow the "Glitterway" to arrive at their destination, the show was expertly created, produced and choreographed. Visually spectacular it borrowed the inner city scaffolding style setting of Rent while the costumes and whacky dance routines wouldn't be out of place in Michael Jackson's Thriller video clip or The Rocky Horror Picture Show. There is no denying this was one pop concert that delivered plenty of entertainment bang for the buck.
Likewise Gaga's performance could not be faulted. Here was a singer and dancer who, shock horror, actually sang and can really dance - take note Britney this is what people expect when they buy concert tickets.
Most surprisingly during Speechless, which saw Gaga take a seat behind the piano, the singer proved she doesn't just have a decent pop voice, but that her range and depth lends itself beautifully to more bluesy numbers. And while bellowing during Teeth, Gaga seemed to have a vocal strength her pop hits don't even come close to hinting at.
Sure her acting was a little contrived and even when addressing the audience she relied on a script that has been used across the country with catchphrases such as: "the Monster Ball will set you free", "my name is Lady Gaga and if it weren't for you I would not exist" and "there's no pop star in the world who loves their fans more than I do".
Dubbing her fans her little monsters she got her Marcia Hines on when she told them: "Just remember you are one of my little monsters and you are perfect just the way you are. Love yourselves." Her words were met with cheers from the thousands of Gaga lookalikes who clung on her every word as they stood with coke cans tangled in their hair.
Of course Gaga wouldn't be Gaga without some weird and wonderful wardrobe choices. While some of the singer's 16 costumes were high end couture designed by the likes of Giorgio Armani and Prada, some were beyond ridiculous. There was a bizarre fringed outfit that looked like a full body lampshade and an odd red number that looked as if Gaga had, in her hurry to change, left the hanger in.
The highlight of the show came at the end with back to back hits Poker Face, Paparazzi and Bad Romance. During Paparazzi a giant purple monster appeared on stage with glowing eyes, octopus style limbs and piranha-like teeth. The audience were asked to help conquer the beast by taking photographs of it. Gaga meanwhile turned into a human pyrotechnics display with fire and sparks flying from her bustier and crotch. How could we not be impressed by that.
By closing number Bad Romance, Gaga and her crew made it to the Monster Ball "the best party in the world" and Burswood Dome was bouncing like the Loch Ness Monster on a pogo stick.
Let's face it -- a monstrously good time was had by all.
Credits for the photos go to Michael_Spencer.