As the clock lurched past 2 a.m. Sunday, Lady Gaga homed in on a figure across the room at NoMad Restaurant. She made her way past the stage, where her friend Brian Newman was blasting the trumpet notes, with someone and something in mind.
Gaga reached across a table of a group at stage right, leaned over and pulled the arm one of her contemporaries, Ashanti. The R&B star arrived after headlining “Nightmare on Q Street” at Orleans Arena. Soon, the two were grooving at the front of the stage.
And soon after that, they were in full duet, with a jazzy take on Ashanti’s “Foolish.”
“This is so impromptu!” Ashanti called to the packed house, which included superstar illusionist and MGM Grand headliner David Copperfield. “I’m sorry I’m in my sweats!”
“Hey, those sweats are Louis Vuitton, all day long!” Newman told the audience, accurately.
It was Gaga’s fourth trip to Newman’s spirited late-night hang, rolling in at about 12:30 after her 2 1/2-hour performance in “Jazz + Piano” at Park Theater, for which Newman is bandleader. The two have been friends and collaborators for a decade, dating to their days in New York City.
— John Katsilometes (@johnnykats) October 27, 2019
Gaga sang several standards, including “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Call Me Irresponsible” and “Just a Gigolo.” She routinely turned to “Jazz + Piano” conductor Michael Bearden, as if seeking permission to keep singing.
“I said I’d do three songs, but I’m going to do four,” she said while standing on the thin walkway in the middle of the room. She sang a fourth, then a fifth — leaping into Newman’s rendition of “Gigolo.”
Routinely, Bearden stood as if to attempt to pull Gaga from the action so she could get some rest, but then ceded to the good time and occasionally conducted Newman’s five-piece band from the wings.
The scene reached Newman’s family, as his wife, burlesque star Angie Pontani, performed two acts, including a sultry number with Gaga — who is the godmother of the Newmans’ 4-year-old daughter, Sistilia (who made her stage debut in the show Friday night, so watch for her). The three also took to the walkway for “Fly Me to The Moon,” and it was clear they share a long history of friendship and performance.
Jaclyn McSpadden sang her jazzy cover of Radiohead’s “Creep,” which is becoming her signature song. And as she and Newman dialed up “That Old Black Magic,” summoning Louis Prima and Keely Smith, they were interrupted by an unbilled performer: Gaga, showing up in time to join the song before even taking her seat.
McSpadden was suddenly swapping lines with a global superstar. Later, McSpadden posted a shot of her with Gaga and Ashanti, with the message, “I think it’s safe to say I love what I do.”
No one cared that the scene, including the requisite post-show hang, tumbled into the 3 a.m. hour. We’ll sleep later.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram