On the scene at the iHeartRadio Music Festival, day two: Lady Gaga takes over the show


Image Credit: Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Clear Channel

Leave it to Lady Gaga to co-opt a music festival featuring dozens of top-line pop stars and make it her own.

The Lady appeared on stage as the final performer last night at the iHeartRadio Music Festival at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and stayed on stage for well over an hour—much longer than any of the other acts. “They told me I was only allowed to play for 45 minutes,” she told the crowd. “But I think you’re all pretty drunk so you probably don’t know what time it is, do you?”

And it’s true: No one was complaining when she served up hit after hit, including “Judas,” “You and I,” “Just Dance,” and “Bad Romance,” which basically blew the roof off the arena.

One of the most heartfelt moments of the evening came when Gaga performed her single “Hair,” which she dedicated to a special fan of hers, 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer, who committed suicide last weekend. During the dedication, Gaga said: “Jamey, I know you’re up there looking at us, you’re not a victim, you’re a lesson to all of us, I know it’s a bit of a downer, but sometimes the right thing’s more important than the music, let’s do this one for Jamey.”

His picture stayed on a Jumbotron screen throughout much of the tune. The tribute was emotional for many in the crowd—I spotted several concert-goers crying. And, of course, Gaga didn’t let her performance of “Hair” go by without inserting some ad-libs: “Bullying is for losers!” she cried during the song, which ended with a rain of blue and silver balloons from the ceiling. As gimmicky as something like this could come off, Gaga pulled it off gracefully.

Another one of the night’s buzziest moments came via Gaga, when she pulled Sting on stage to perform with her. During her first encore, Gaga sang “Alejandro,” “Telephone,” and “Papparazzi,” which eventually ended in her heaving bosom covered in blood. Gaga had died of fame! So she asked for “the police”—headed by Sting—to bring her back to life.

“Sting is one of the most kind and beautiful people I’ve met,” Gaga said as he came out. The pair sang “Stand By Me” and “King of Pain” before Gaga ended the set and said she was going to follow Sting “off stage because he’s cute.” But, naturally, she returned: Her second encore found the crowd melting down over “Edge of Glory.” Then she left again. And returned yet again for a third encore of “Born This Way,” which she started a capella before moving into the version we all know and love. Oh, and her hair was short by this point, too.

Gaga was pretty much a show within a mega-show, but there were several other performers before her. The evening began with American Idol judge Steven Tyler, who was sporting the most amazing get-up, as usual, that included lady sunglasses, a big, floppy hat, a feather in his hair, bedazzled vest, and bracelets galore. His set was pretty much what you’d expect, launching with Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion,” which got the crowd ramped up. Then he did his recent solo single, “Feels So Good,” which brought both Nicole Scherzinger (singing, sort of) and Randy Jackson (playing guitar) on stage with him. (Scherzinger returned later in the evening to sing bars from “Club Banger Nation” and “Don’t Hold Your Breath.”) I’d never have guessed we’d see such collaboration between the X-Factor and American Idol judges! But the duets didn’t stop there: Tyler also brought out the Family Stone (minus Sly) to sing “Thank You.”

Next up: Nicki Minaj, whose specializes in stage spectacle and didn’t disappoint last night. She was literally wheeled out on a dolly with demented-looking doctor-dancers at her behest. Her show was honestly one of the most lively—she seemed so dedicated to what she was doing on stage, with weird face after weird face of hers projected on the big screen. She opened with “Fly,” and then rapped through “Roman’s Revenge,” which I was surprised to see much of the (relatively older) crowd get really into.

Her quick dip into her rap from the “‘Till the World Ends” remix had me thinking that—maybe?—Britney would make a surprise appearance, but alas, no dice there. But her final three songs represented the range that Minaj has: First came “Moment 4 Life,” followed by summer jam “Super Bass” and perhaps weird choice (mostly because David Guetta and Flo Rida weren’t on stage with her) “Where Them Girls At.”

Rascal Flatts followed Minaj and ran through “Why Wait,” “What Hurts the Most,” “Fast Cars and Freedom.” But their best moment was easily when Natasha Bedingfield showed up on stage to sing their latest single, “Easy.” Bringing her out was a huge win for the whole set. And finally, they ended with the very crowd-pleasing cover “Life is a Highway.” No one doesn’t know that song.

Next came the diva of the night: Jennifer Lopez. And did she ever put on a diva show. The American Idol judge (actually, all three of them—as well as host Ryan Seacrest—were in the building!) emerged singing “Get Right” while holding a glittery cane and wearing a fiery red flapper-style dress covered in fringe. I mean, hello there, Jenny!

And her opening video was by far the most indulgent amongst any of the other artists: A montage featured Lopez’s eyes, Lopez’s legs, Lopez’s various looks throughout the years. The crowd went nuts, and everyone only got more crazy when she did “Let’s Get Loud” and body dipped like her life depended on it. Next was a medley of “Ain’t That Funny,” “All I Have,” and “I’m Real,” before she pulled out a crowd pleaser that everyone was waiting for: “Jenny from the Block,” which featured a cadre of male backup dancers.

And as if she hadn’t already heated up the place enough, Lopez next served up a ridiculous rousing version of  her latest single “Papi.” Based on her performance—and the crowd’s reaction to it—you wouldn’t really have known that this song has yet to take off for Lopez. The diva saved the best for last, of course, with a blowout performance of her big hit of the year, “On the Floor,” which saw her sit in a throne atop a staircase in a luxurious red robe. The whole thing was deadly in all the right ways. Lopez has been back for a while, but this performance just sealed that for her.

When Sublime with Rome got on stage next, the younger set in the arena seemed to exit for drinks or cigarettes. Not shocking. But the crowd that stayed seemed fully invested in songs like “Panic,” “Wrong Way,” and “Take It or Leave It.”It was during the band’s performance of “What I Got” that new lead singer Rome Ramirez spoke some words about the band’s late singer Bradley Nowell: “Rest in Peace Bradley!” he screamed.

David Guetta came out next, for what was arguably one of the weirdest and best sets of the evening. Because he’s a DJ, Guetta literally stood in a booth high above the stage and just played his hits, which are mostly collaborations with other artists. “Where Them Girls At” got another spin, and he played “Sweat,” which featured a couple of cool, lit-up, Tron-like dancer-monsters.

The problem, really, was that his interlude felt just exactly like what it actually was: a DJ set. There’s really nothing wrong with that, but it was a little bit of a downer to just hear recorded versions of songs that you love after seeing live performances of songs that you love. But that’s when he turned it around: Guetta spun through “Gettin’ Over You,” “Little Bad Girl,” “When Love Takes Over,” and “Titanium,” but then the notes for his latest single “Without You” began and who appeared on stage? Special guest star Usher! His appearance and sweaty, super-dedicated performance was one of the highlights of the evening.

The last act before Gaga took over the show was country superstar Kenny Chesney. I’m not a huge fan of Chesney’s, but I have to say this guy knows how to put on a show. Granted, he’s fun to just look at with that tipped-too-low cowboy hat and too-tight jeans, but his set—which included “Beer in Mexico,” “Summertime,” “I Go Back,” “Out Last Night,” “Young,” and “Somewhere With You”—was truly a twangy good time. I have major respect for Chesney—he’s got real showmanship.

Readers: Were any of you there? Or listening or watching online or via your X-Box? What’d you think of the show? Tell me in the comments section below, please!

Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky

The Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix

Read more:
On the scene at the iHeartRadio Music Festival, day one: Black Eyed Peas, Kelly Clarkson, Alicia Keys, and Jay-Z
Ryan Seacrest to host iHeartRadio Music Festival

Comments (100 total) Add your comment
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  • Adam

    I heard a little of Minaj’s set on the radio, it was more than half bleeped out. It’s sad that her trademark is a dirty mouth and weird faces…. She does have a nice ass, hopefully good producers can give her a few more hits….

    • Kelcie

      Her butt isn’t real….just so you know. And by that I mean they’re implants…

      • Nick

        At least she wasn’t dressed up as a man this time. Thumbs up.

      • kalo

        I think with her performance Jennifer Lopez wants younger men to know that she is back on the market, how sexy she is and how she has strong sexual needs.BTW,I wanna share a good news to you.My best friend ,she just has announced her wedding with a millionaire man who is a celebrity !they met via Millionaireloving.C óM ..it is the largest and best club for celebrity and their admirers to chat online.You do not have to be rich or famous. ,but you can meet one , It’s worthy a try,Maybe you wanna check it out or tell your friends!

  • ES

    i was watching online. The festival was really great. Both nights just had great performances. Lady gaga was def the best tho. she blew the roof off the place. Jlo surprised me. she still got it. jane addiction was really cool too. nicki minaj also surprised me too. she was actually good! sux that they had censors though. and jayz was great. wish i couldve been there.

  • Bruce Graywood

    Stefani (Lady Gaga) is really stunning and very talented. She’s amazing. That woman is incredible. She can be so hot sometimes and she’s got the most incredible body. It was an equisite performance, just wonderful.

  • DeMarco

    I think with her performance Jennifer Lopez wants younger men to know that she is back on the market, how sexy she is and how she has strong sexual needs.

    • Tom

      They are going for that MILF appeal

  • Lindsey Strauss

    I hope they include Lady Gaga in the next Star Trek movie as a singer with dark connections to the villains. With her futuristic music and style, she would fit right in.
    I’d like to see Kirk, Spock and McCoy go undercover to a techno concert of hers on a distant planet which is raided by many henchmen who have a thunderous phaser fight with them.

    • Katie

      Psycho. Get a life. You write this on every article that mentions her.

      • Sidney

        No, that was pretty original. I’ve never laughed so hard reading what is normally tripey horsesh_t. LOL!!!

    • Dhecy

      Wow I am surprised at Erin’s comemnt above comparing multiple marriages (state sanctioned or not) the commitment of children, and individual(s) supporting the entire group, emotionally, financially, health-wise, the sharing of resources, mutual care-taking of children:yours. mine, ours- etc., with swinging’ which from what I have heard does not encompass or even approach the same kind of scenario at all, let alone assume any kind of family, l;et alone marriage. I mean, there may be other scenarios that while they still are not reflective of the Darger family could be historical , various cultures or biblical that would even be closer than this strange comparison. Even the logic is wrong in comparing whatever swinging’ is with infidelity, which at the very least suggest sneakiness , while with with swinging’ , I have heard that is something any kind of couple(s) enter into together, as one-dimensional as it may be, and certainly does not necessarily imply or contain all the commitments listed above, let alone love, whereas simple infidelity could be anything from a one night stand’ to what is called an affair’ or even something longer-term and more complex- but none of these are comparable to the Darger’s or what could be termed modern-day polygamy’, whatever the configuration happens to be, the assumption is family and committed relationships, the physical side of it probably not being the foci , whereas in swinging, it appears from every TV, article, etc., that appears be the foci, and any kind of family or emotional stuff is kept separate or reserved for the individual couple outside the swinger’ activities.So while the poster Erin certainly has the right to her opinions, I believe I have effectively destroyed the argument/comparison she made. She also makes the assumption that the man is constantly shopping around’ while that may not be the case at all. Just because it is possible doesn’t mean the man is looking to marry, or otherwise, every woman he finds attractive. Intellectually, the argument can also be made as to what is considered infidelity. Some believe it is simply physical, but there are unfortunately many forms of betrayal that can far outstrip something simply physical. Even in the law what is considered fiduciary duty’ , if one explores that, it is far more all-encompassing than that. Without trying to sound like either Andrea Dworkin or Ayn Rand (the latter of who had very complex relationships), the essence of the law of fiduciary duty is that one is not supposed to act or leverage power/advantage against the other, whether it be regarding things financial or children or threats, etc.

  • Tequilaboy

    I could only go to the first night but this was one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen my share of concerts. First, the production itself was off the hook. I wondered, how are they going to meld all those acts together into a continuous flow? They pulled it off flawlessly. A revolving stage that had the next act lock and loaded with a enough time in between to keep the energy gong. KUDOS to the production company. Did I forget to mention the sound on every band was just about perfect. Oh yeah, not often you are going to hear a cross section of music in one night. Everyone was on the “A” game.

  • Jdean

    I know the Gaga-hating trolls will be taking over this message board any minute now, but before they get here, I wanna say that I think Gaga’s “Hair” is the best song she has ever written lyrically. I know most critics decried the simple metaphor of hair as identity but when she does that piano ballad version, like she did on Howard Stern, it’s so moving. It should silence the haters knowing that artists like Elton John, Sting, and the guitarist from Queen and saxophonist of The E Street Band consider her the real deal and wanted to perform with her.

    • SaraS

      Agree with you. Great artists and the music community in general (Rolling Stone magazine, etc) does respect her. I also like Hair, but to be honest sometimes prefer the catchy dance tracks she wrote on album 1.

    • Tom

      The Piano Ballad was strong and meaningful right before Stern invited another guest to ride the Symbian vibrating saddle. That was moving too, I bet.

    • Blonde South

      I’m a Gaga fan but I’m gonna have to disagree. Hair is far from the best song she’s written and comes off as kind of corny. It’s nice that it has a good message, but lyrically it’s… not very good. In fact I would say it’s one of the weakest songs she’s ever written lyrically, aside from it’s good message.

      • Ginny

        An exceedingly good post. This short arlctie sums up for me personally exactly what this topic is determined by and some from the important benefits that may be caused by being aware of it as should you. A friend once pointed out that you have a totally different way of thinking whenever you do something for several instead of when you are just toying by using it. In the case of this kind of topic, I believe you are taking, or start to think about, a far more expert in addition to thorough method of both exactly what and just how you write, which helps you to keep on and get much better and guide others who have no idea anything by what you’ve shared here. Thank you.

  • Steffi

    Gaga was the best of the night. J-LO was amazing as well.

  • DRG

    Lady Ga Ga sneezes — read about it at EW.
    Lady Ga Ga takes an afternoon nap — read about it at EW.
    Lady Ga Ga gets a new pair of socks — read about it at EW
    Lady Ga Ga has pizza for lunch – read about it at EW.
    It is time for EW to admit that is is nothing but Lady Ga Ga’s publicist. Enough already

    • vighorois

      Lady Ga Ga sneezes — YOU come here and read about it at EW.
      Lady Ga Ga takes an afternoon nap — YOU come here and read about it at EW.
      Lady Ga Ga gets a new pair of socks — YOU come here and read about it at EW
      Lady Ga Ga has pizza for lunch – YOU come here and read about it at EW.

      For someone who thinks, “Enough already!”, your coming here and reading about it and commenting on it is EXACTLY why EW keeps reporting everything about Lady GaGa. You exercised your free will to click on a story with GaGa in the headline, and commented on that. EW is doing a good job reporting on something or someone to keep people talking.

      The opposite of love is indifference.

      • YES!!!!!!

        DRG just got “owned” by vighorois!!!! Love it!!!!

      • Nhyelachayank

        You’re so right. I never looked at it that way. Whitney is a Genius and was cniennlahg previous mega stars’ performances, to create a meta-performance. I applaud her (though not as much as I applaud Beyonce, just for being who she is).

  • A

    Note: this was a multi-artist festival, yet it isn’t until paragraph six that someone other than Lady Ga ga is even mentioned and even then it is about that artist performing with her, so yeah, EW is all about her.

    • J9

      Let us be clear – Gaga is mentioned in the title of the article. Of course she would be mentioned first and foremost.

    • Miguel

      Lady GaGa is the world’s biggest pop star. She’s everywhere. EW writes about it because that’s what people WANT. Don’t like it? Move to Mars. By continuing to comment on it, you just perpetuate these kind of results. When articles have heavy traffic in the comment section, there’s just gonna be more articles like it.

      • 2lc

        Beyonce is the world’s biggest pop star.

      • Rod

        @2lc – I’m glad you have someone you champion and think highly of. I think everyone should have someone that is a source of inspiration for themselves. To some that’s Lady Gaga (myself included), others… Adele, U2, Beyonce, Madonna, NIN, Alanis, Brit, Green Day, Katy, Tori, Pat Benatar, JLo, Janet, Aretha, Carrie, The Eagles, G’ful Dead, Stevie, Rhianna, Goldfrapp, Aerosmith, and the list will always go on and on. It’s good when people can praise who they like without taking cheap shots and creating “opponents” for the sake of drama towards the likes of others.

  • LOL

    America loves crap.

    • Mujan

      as soon as we find technology to search and destroy morons online..i’m calling your boss, setting him on fire and then raping your troll ass with a chandelier…you Effin spammer of nothing! delete his EVERY post EW, make my day

      • LOL

        I do not spam. Spam is unsolicited messages selling a product or service neither of which I promote. I simply use these boards for the purpose they serve — that is to express my thoughts on a given topic. I’m sorry that my thoughts on these topics upset you but I call it like I see it.

      • @Mujan

        Please don’t tell me that you think there is only one LOL who posts at EW.

      • Sidney

        I love how LOL gets these fanboys panties in a bunch.

      • Blonde South

        Dude, calm down. He’s just trollin. It’s what he does. Don’t let it bother you so much.

    • a knight in shining armour of cyndonia

      I would say lol, but its inapropreiate.


    • tom

      honestly bud or chick…..your tired and old…..your comments are boring and the same everytime…..HONESTLY LOL….if you were to say something other than “america loves crap” I would read your posts as maybe you do have some good thoughts…..but I am sure I am not the only one that sees “LOL” as the poster and just breezes by it! Or also the others that try to make fun of you with your same name……honestly…..WE JUST PASS OVER YOU…..and the 3 that re-comment are the ones that have issues!

      • LOL

        And yet you just wrote me a paragraph.

  • Me

    Entertainment Weekly should be ashamed of itself. Queen of Pop?!?!?!? Madonna and Britney could bury this snatch alive in all of their respective achievements. LG remains a jester in their court and has YEARS to go to even think otherwise. Is Justin Beiber the King of Pop? Give me a break.

    • HIED

      Madonna I may agree… but Britney? Really? I mean Gaga smokes Brit in singing (Brit lip-syncs), vocal talent, songwriting, Grammys, VMAs..etc. and in only three years so you don’t have to throw the “Britney sold 100m records” excuse”. Britney is the perfect example of manufactured pop star. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up listening to her, but everyone knows that while Brit is a pop star Gaga is a pop artist. The only thing Madonna has is that she pioneered all this stuff female artists incorporate in their music these days, that’s why she rightfully owns the Queen of Pop title.

      • Kelcie

        Well said! I stopped being a Gaga fan and I am hardly a Britney fan but that is simply the truth!

      • @HIED

        I completely agree with everything you said!! Until further notice, Brit’s given up and just doesn’t seem to have the interest she once had in “bringing it” to her stage or video performances. Perhaps it was becoming a mother and that period of the seemingly mental break down that changed something in her. Madonna will always be Queen even though she too (lately anyway) seems to have become a bit lazy with her last album effort (HC). But nobody can say she hasn’t been a pioneer for female pop as we know it. Gaga has a long way to go to truly be recognized as an icon, but her first three year track record is an amazing feat in and of itself. She’s got me hooked. Although there are some similarities, I’m glad I can see the nuance she’s bringing to the world of show business that is truly her own and not copied from another source. She’s the most refreshing artist to come on the scene since Madonna, but no, she is not the queen of Pop. However, she’s light years above Britney in true, personally artistic effort. I’d say if anyone is a jester, it’s the person who can’t/refuses to sing live and has always had a room full of execs planning which string to pull next on their “puppet”… “should she go on another lip-sync tour, another album that’s 98% auto-tune, or should she have another mental breakdown so we can try to plan another “comeback” for her once again?

    • fancypants

      Janet Jackson is the Queen of Pop.

  • PN

    I don’t like your “rather aging” crowd comment about the Las Vegas audience! This crowd came to see those artists, even if half of the artists are young and they’re performing with names as big as Steven Tyler and Sting on the stage. And they definitely came to see Lady Gaga who stole the show from the others!

  • Joe T.

    Glad there’s finally some GaGa love. I’m more than a little tired of people dissing her. I don’t care if you like her or not…but if you’ve not seen her live then you’re missing a helluva show and don’t really understand the pure talent she possesses. The Lady can belt it. AND she performs ‘live’…no lipsyncing, Britney, et al.

    • +

      Talent? ROTFLMAO. If she had such “talent” she would not need to rely on gimmicks and constant PR stuts to sell her “music.”

      • HIED

        I take it that you didn’t watch any of her past performances when there’s just Gaga and the piano… no gimmicks. You can dislike her all you want, but just saying that she is talentless is taking it too far.

      • Lurt

        She has talent it is just that it is a talent for self promotion.

      • YES TALENT!!

        She’s definitely got the talent! Oh, and about the “rely on gimmicks and constant PR stuNts to sell her “music”… she doesn’t need to rely on it. She uses it as a bonus to her fans that appreciate the outrageousness that she brings to her spectacle. She’s always said that she intended to bring the “show” back to show business and anybody trying to deny that she’s done so is either blind or just a hater who can stand to see someone succeed. I truly love how polarizing she is. It reassures me of why I find her so worthwhile… because she can piss off so many self-professed critics who just want to see her fall.

      • YES TALENT!!

        “… who can’t stand…”

      • Blonde South

        Say what you will about her and her increasingly annoying gimmicks, but the girl CAN sing. And play the piano. And she used to write some pretty decent hits as well.

    • Ann

      Amen Joe. Gaga can sing and all others can do is hate. If you don’t like her don’t listen to her. Britney hasn’t sang live for years and Madonna hasn’t sounded good live for years. “ME” quit being a hater! Why read the article if you hate Gaga so much- just to spread more hate!

      • ML

        You’re doing the EXACT same thing by dissing Madonna. I’ve seen her live in her last 4 tours and she sounds better than ever. Don’t bring up how others critize GAGA when you’re doing the same yourself.

      • Blonde South

        Why couldn’t you have just stopped with complimenting Gaga? Why did you have to go on to diss Madonna?

    • NonEntity

      Goo Gah can do little more than squat and hire a bunch of dancers to cover up the fact that her music is akin to what a three year old would create on a Casio. Her piano and voice schtick is a gimmick for her fans to refer to like a prewritten script. Talent doesn’t make money; sexual dance routines do.

  • Ann

    Lady Gaga rocked the house! & “ME” Madonna hasn’t sounded good live for years and I love Britney but she lip synchs everything, so I don’t know how you can compare Gaga to either of them based on their sound. It’s amazing how many people love to go on websites and bash Gaga. If you don’t like it, don’t listen to it. Maybe if this world had a little less hate we wouldn’t have teens killing themselves because they feel useless. Madonna talks crap about other artists all the time. She can’t even accept a hydrangea from a fan without being a snot. Britney and Gaga are class acts who don’t talk bad about anyone. Gaga’s tribute to Jamey was a tear jerker for sure!! RIP little monster!

    • tom

      i love gaga…..2 bad her album is flopping

      • Derek

        Last time I checked, it’s one of the bigger selling albums of the year. As of June it has sold 5 million copies worldwide…..and that was only a month after it was released. Pretty sure that’s not a flop.

    • Blonde South

      Do you know that you just came on here and bashed Madonna right now? That you just wrote an entire paragraph hating on her when she wasn’t even mentioned once in the article? You are doing exactly what you just said you didn’t want people doing to Lady Gaga.

    • Mina

      SpinneyBigBird1095 on February 4, 2011 The handoff of Rod from John to Jennifer is like crlokwcok. It happens in a matter of seconds and it’s perfect! Little puppetry tips and tricks is one of the reasons why I LOVE this show!

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