Lady Gaga’s Las Vegas residency promises only two things: Jazz & Piano. But judging from the photos she posted of Thursday’s opening night performance and video that’s surfaced online, it contains so much more.
On Instagram, she posted a photo of herself holding a Broadway-style Playbill with anticipation in her eyes and a photo of Miles Davis (who plays jazz but not piano) blowing his trumpet over her shoulder. When the show was done, she shared another in which she was wearing a shiny tux (bowtie included) and her hairstylist, Frederic Aspiras, and makeup artist, Sarah Tanno, looking over her shoulder, smiling with pride. “That’s all folks,” she captioned the picture.
In between those two photos, Gaga performed a five-act selection of jazz standards and jazzified versions of some of her biggest hits. The evening opened, naturally, with “Luck Be a Lady” (supported not by a piano but a big band) and renditions of songs made famous by her old pal, the late Tony Bennett (“Steppin’ Out With My Baby”), and the Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra (“The Best Is Yet to Come”). She delivered on that promise repeatedly, as seen in videos posted to YouTube.
She even took a moment before playing a jazzed-up version of “Born This Way” to use the song as a platform for recognizing trans rights. “I’ve got something to say about trans rights in this country,” she said as the audience cheered and told her she loved her, and he played wide, luscious chords on her piano. “You got something to say, you gotta speak up right?” Then she started the lyrics, her keys supporting the song’s buoyant melodies. She even got a little funky with the piano toward the middle before taking a second to talk to the audience again.
“And you know, sometimes you hear people say things like, ‘I don’t always know what to say,’” she said. “Just listen. Don’t say nothin’. Listen to the stories of real people’s lives.”
The set list also included jazz standards like “I Don’t Mean a Thing (If Ain’t Got That Swing),” “Sway (Quien Sera),” “Rags to Riches,” and the “Theme From New York, New York.” Video of the third set shows her singing “Sway” and “Rags to Riches” (punctuated with someone talking all over it).
Gaga’s Jazz & Piano residency runs through Oct. 5.