Lady Gaga has made waves in the past for her stripped-down performances and impromptu a cappella moments, where she’s let her bare voice move a crowd. But rarely does she ditch the microphone altogether.
One of those vulnerable moments came Thursday evening during her return to Las Vegas for her Jazz & Piano residency. While belting the final notes of the late Tony Bennett’s version of “Fly Me to the Moon,” Gaga lowered her microphone as her voice filled the 5,200-seat Dolby Live theater at Park MGM and the audience erupted in cheers. Her voice projected as far as the upper balcony, where one fan recorded the moment as Gaga dramatically stretched each word in the closing lyrics, “Please be true / In other words, I love you.”
This isn’t the first time the “Born This Way” singer has gone sans mic during a live performance. While touring with Bennett in 2015, Gaga went without a microphone for several notes while singing “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” in Concord, Calif.
Also at Thursday’s Vegas performance, Gaga, who is bisexual, dedicated her LGBTQ+ anthem “Born This Way” to the trans community.
“I’ve got something to say about trans rights in this country,” she said before launching into the song. “You got something to say, you gotta speak up right?”
She ended her song by inviting people who might be unsure about “what to say” in advocating for trans lives to “just listen, don’t say nothin’ — listen to stories of real people’s lives.”
Thursday’s show marked the Grammy- and Oscar-winning artist’s first concert during the most recent leg of her ongoing Vegas residency, which started in December 2018. The shows, featuring her renditions of jazz standards, stretch until a final concert on Oct. 5. Gaga even managed to get Playbill to offer programs for her concerts, a commodity typically reserved for Broadway shows.
Gaga shared inside the Playbill that the shows were inspired by Bennett, her former collaborator, who died in July from Alzheimer’s disease. The unlikely musical pair, in different stages of their careers, toured together and recorded “Cheek to Cheek,” an album of jazz standards, in 2014.
“With Tony, I got to live my life in a time warp,” Gaga wrote in a statement shared after his death. “Tony & I had this magical power. We transported ourselves to another era, modernized the music together, & gave it all new life as a singing duo.”
“But it wasn’t an act. Our relationship was very real,” she continued. “Sure he taught me about music, about showbiz life, but he also showed me how to keep my spirits high and my head screwed on straight. ‘Straight ahead,’ he’d say. He was an optimist, he believed in quality work AND quality life. Plus, there was the gratitude. … Tony was always grateful.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.