Lady Gaga at the iHeartRadio Music Festival 2018

They opened their sets with renditions of their hit “I Will Always Love You,” and had a dedicated fan on hand, Bebe Rexha, who joined them onstage to sing “9 to 5” and “I’m…

Lady Gaga at the iHeartRadio Music Festival 2018

They opened their sets with renditions of their hit “I Will Always Love You,” and had a dedicated fan on hand, Bebe Rexha, who joined them onstage to sing “9 to 5” and “I’m Like a Bird.” So when it came time for the group to perform “All the Things That I Used to Do,” the warmest and most familiar song the band had, it seemed appropriate to invite Rexha along. And indeed, there she was, seducing the crowd with her swooning vocals.

Rexha’s descent to the chorus was led by trumpeter Julian Lambert, leading a reconfiguration of the opening verses that was as breathtaking and memorable as the original. By the time she wrapped up the song, beaming a big, homemade smile, the crowd was completely absorbed. It seems no single line or moment in any show can fully prepare a crowd for seeing an artist with so little of themselves left onstage, yet there it was, a clear break from the worn-out clichés (“Shut up and dance!”), the clichés of classics that transcend decades, eras and even nationality, made poignant and relatable because they aren’t forced to embrace their nostalgia. Because they weren’t still playing the games of yesteryear, their show was only a mix of the memories they had created by singing about the things that they used to do: learn, break hearts, live the adventurous life and take a risk or two.

Two other moments brought tears to my eyes on Sunday. One, I’ll call “The Pope Song.” The other was “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” The former was of course, a cover of the Freddie Jackson classic — with the pope — of the same name. And the latter was the ones who got the crowd involved. All of the members kicked off the set with full voices, entering the crowd, climbing on top of their chairs, and moving around, lip-syncing the words to “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” with a knee-length white cape thrown over their head. The show was full of such moments. We are here to appreciate and appreciate nostalgia, and the crowd was just as much a part of the magic as the band, and so it was.

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