Lady Gaga / Tegan and Sara Bell Stage, Quebec QC, July 4

Lady Gaga / Tegan and Sara Bell Stage, Quebec QC, July 4
Photo: Renaud Philippe
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"We feel like we're U2 in the '80s!" shouted Tegan, of Tegan and Sara, from Festival d'été's massive Bell Stage. As the sisters looked out into the massive, endless sea of faces in "the biggest crowd we've ever seen!" they couldn't help but be taken aback. In response, they delivered a set of fan favourites that kept the crowd, especially near the front of the stage, dancing and bouncing with abandon. The duo punctuated the success of last year's Heartthrob with crowd-pleasing renditions of "I'm Not Your Hero," "I Was a Fool" and obvious set-closer "Closer," but a lack of older material and fairly banal stage set-up made it feel just a hint empty.

In the short wait between Tegan and Sara and headliner Lady Gaga, darkness descended on Quebec City and the stage lights came on for dancers sporting giant lit-up orbs to come frolicking onstage to "Art Pop." "Bienvenue mes petit monstres," Gaga screamed as she took the stage, alternating between French and English. "Je suis Lady Gaga! Put your fucking hands in the air!"

Gaga's got a reputation for lacking the dance skills of other performers of her ilk, but it's her voice that should be the focus, and it was on full display in Quebec. "G.U.Y." and "Donatella" were pitch-perfect despite her additional roles as lead dancer and crowd leader. Though the Bell Stage had fairly minimal accoutrements compared to her lavish stage set-up at most tour stops, her costume game was on-point: she donned a shell bikini for "Venus," a black leather bodysuit for "Do What U Want" and boldly went topless, her back to the audience, as handlers taped neon pasties onto her to ensure that the transparent, neon-lined smock she wore for the triumphant "Bad Romance" didn't bare all.

She peppered the set with pep talks (Some a little disingenuous perhaps, given that Gaga's first foothold was in New York, rather than Canada as she suggested) and crowd-baiting exclamations and imperatives (She yelled "Let's go, you fucking crazy kids!" as she grabbed a keytar for "Poker Face"), working the audience into a frenzy for hits like "Telephone," "Just Dance" and "Paparazzi." But for all her big-budget professionalism and overblown sentiment, Gaga's slight flub on a poignant, piano-driven "Born This Way" highlighted her humanity and set in relief her intense drive and the lengths to which she goes to ensure a good performance. The crowd picked up on it, chanting "Gaga, Gaga!" during one of her orations.

She closed with "Applause" and "Swine," and returned for encore "Gypsy," odd set ordering given that "Applause" was easily the most triumphant of the three, and that "Bad Romance" is the show's biggest number. Still, Gaga's magnetic stage presence and the power of her band's performance ensured that the only real complaint you could hear on the way out into the Quebec night was that it was over.