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MUSIC REVIEW

Lady Gaga delivers attitude, powerhouse moments

By James Reed
Globe Staff / December 3, 2009

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Lady Gaga issued an ultimatum to her fans - “my little monsters’’ she calls them - in advance of her ambitious new tour. “ ‘The Fame Monster’ (her new album) will come out four days before the first live show,’’ she wrote on her website. “You have exactly 96 hours to learn all of the lyrics so you can sing along. Dress accordingly.’’

Someone did their homework. At the Citi Wang Theatre Tuesday night, the first of her two soldout shows, Gaga’s fans came out in force, often looking like her doppelganger (hair bows, tiny top hats, and serious attitude).

It was a crucial moment for the pop icon in waiting, her first major headlining tour (and only the fourth performance on it) and a chance to prove she has the talent to justify the hype. She definitely does, but “The Monster Ball Tour’’ is not without the road bumps you would expect early on.

There were flashes of brilliance (including a mesmerizing interlude with just Gaga on piano), but they were tempered by bouts of such extreme posturing and pandering, the message was clear: If you don’t love me yet, just you wait.

That’s Lady Gaga for you - she is so fun and fabulous because she is absolutely sure of it. She is also a talented and compelling public persona with four number one hits on the radio this year.

But you cannot confuse buzz with a knack for live performance, and it was fascinating to see Gaga find her footing in a show that roared out of the gate (“Just Dance,’’ “Teeth’’) but then, oddly, hit some dead energy and long stretches of silence toward the end.

By no means a strident dancer (though jumping in high heels is its own feat), Gaga was regal in other ways. When she got behind her piano for a stark rendition of “Speechless,’’ it was a reminder that she is a powerhouse singer, something you forget from her album’s rather mechanical vocals.

She sometimes lost her way as the night wrapped up, letting backing tracks handle the heavy lifting on “The Fame’’ and “Paper Gangsta.’’ But with two more anthems in her arsenal, “Paparazzi’’ and the closing “Bad Romance,’’ she went out on an impressive high.

Leaving, you couldn’t help but realize that, like the artist, “The Monster Ball Tour’’ is not legendary yet, but you can bet it will be.

James Reed can be reached at jreed@globe.com.

LADY GAGA With Kid Cudi and Semi Precious Weapons

At: Citi Wang Theatre, Tuesday night

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