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Lady Gaga plunged into the deep end of her new album, Joanne, and called on support from Mark Ronson as her Dive Bar Tour visited New York on Thursday night (Oct. 20).
Gaga and her band performed six new songs, including the sombre title track, penned for her late aunt, and “Grigio Girls,” written for her friend Sonja Dunham who has stage-four cancer and was in the crowd for the show.
The pop superstar wore a see-through shirt emblazoned with the tour sponsor Bud Light logo as her band filled it up at the Bitter End, a venue she has frequented since her teens. “I’ve been playing here since I was 15 years old. We all miss Kenny (Gorka, the former owner who died March 2015 aged 68),” Gaga said. “This is where I started.”
Gaga was in a particularly chatty mood for the Facebook Live Webcast as she opened with “Diamond Heart”, then introduced to the stage someone she “really, really wanted to work with”, the uber-producer Ronson.
Ronson, who co-wrote and produced a handful of works on the new album, joined the band on guitar for renditions of “A-Yo” and “Joanne,” which Gaga introduced with an emotional account of her aunt’s struggles and death, and the profound impact the loss had on her family.
It was Ronson who helped Gaga share the personal story in song, she explained. “He really lifted me high and showed me dignity.” Gaga dedicated the song to her father, Joe, and gave a mid-song shout-out, “I love you dad.”
Gaga was just getting started with her Little Monsters’ emotions. She shared the story of Dunham’s cancer battle and told how she and Nashville native Hillary Lindsey wrote the song “Grigio Girls” to help her friends “cry it out”. Gaga gave her pal a cuddle as she dedicated the number to folks around the world to “not be afraid of deep things” or suffer in silence.
Up next: “Million Reasons,” a song Gaga and Co. performed on the first stop of the intimate Dive Bar series earlier this month. Then Ronson returned to the stage as Gaga finished the set on an upbeat, brassy note with “Just Another Day.”
Gaga’s mini-set should build the buzz for Joanne, which is out Friday (Oct. 21) and features a duet with Florence + the Machine’s Florence Welch and production work from the likes of Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, Beck, Kevin Parker of Tame Impala and Ronson.
The three-date Dive Bar Tour wraps Oct. 27 at an unspecified location.
Lady Gaga’s “Dive Bar” setlist at Bitter End, New York, Oct. 20
Just Another Day