“You Taste Just Like Glitter Mixed with Rock & Roll”: Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball Tour Review

15 Jul

by Ben Reiser

Little Monsters. The term by which pop sensation Lady Gaga refers to her fans.

After seeing her perform in her Monster Ball Tour at Madison Square Garden, it’s official.

I am a Little Monster.

My addiction to Gaga actually began quite recently. One afternoon last November, I returned home from school to see that Lady Gaga had released a new single and music video, called “Bad Romance,” and it was tearing up the charts. The only other Gaga track I had heard was “Just Dance,” which sounded pretty good, so I said what the heck? I watched the video.

Ever the dedicated performer, Lady Gaga shows off all of her talent at the Monster Ball Tour. | Photo by Ben Reiser

Let’s just say that within an hour, I had all of her songs in my iTunes library. I had become infatuated with Gaga. Not necessarily because of her fashion statements or social etiquette, but because her music was mindblowing. It was brilliant.

Fast-forward to July 7. I snagged a ticket to Gaga’s Monster Ball Tour at Madison Square Garden, and could barely contain my excitement. At the arena, though, I worried that my overexcitement was setting me up for colossal disappointment.

Gaga’s opening act was a glam-rock band called Semi-Precious Weapons — for whom Gaga had actually opened when they were just starting out performing for small crowds. Though loud, flashy and controversial (lead singer Justin Tranter shoved a microphone in his mouth and got buck-naked on stage), I found them to be quite boring. But c’mon, when you’re waiting for Lady Gaga to take the stage, a freaking elephant doing backflips probably wouldn’t excite you.

Then we saw a hand in the shape of a gun (thumb, index and middle fingers up) appear on the screen. Paws up—the anthem for Gaga and her fans.

Paws Up. The anthem for Gaga and her fans rang true at her Monster Ball Tour Concert. | Photo by Ben Reiser

The crowd went crazy.

I saw people laughing hysterically, others sobbing tears of joy, and still others stuck to their seats in total awe and astonishment. Lady Gaga was right there, in the same room as us. I know it sounds like I’m treating her like some holy savior, but seriously, everyone was so pumped.

Gaga opened with “Dance in the Dark,” one of her lesser-known songs, but the thumping beat in the background and simply hearing Gaga’s voice was an exciting way to start the night.

Then the single that sparked Gaga’s popularity began—“Just Dance.” I think everyone in the world knows this song by now, and everyone in the crowd was up and boogying at their seats. It’s such a great dance song, and even better when Gaga’s singing it live.

After “Beautiful, Dirty, Rich,” “Vanity,” “The Fame,” “LoveGame,” “Boys, Boys, Boys,” and “Money Honey” (all of which were performed flawlessly), Gaga went up to the front of the stage. Before the show started, members of Gaga’s crew

The set list for the Monster Ball Tour featured many of Gaga's hits. | Graphic created by Ben Reiser

collected cell phone numbers from fans who complied, saying that a lucky winner would receive a call from Gaga during the show. And she did. A submitted number was randomly chosen, and Gaga spoke to a startled, blushing middle-aged woman in front of the entire crowd, and they spoke for a few minutes about life in general. It was pretty amusing.

Then when Gaga hung up, her cell phone rang. The crowd went wild when they heard it was Beyoncé (but not actually), and Gaga launched into “Telephone.” I was a little confused at first, because that song is a duet between Gaga and Beyoncé, and obviously, Honey B wasn’t there. I don’t know if Gaga took on Honey B’s parts, or if they used a recording or everyone in the crowd substituted for those parts, but I actually didn’t hear too much of a difference.

Then Gaga’s piano came out. The show had been mostly high energy at this point, and people looked a little let down at first for the change in pace. But this was breathtaking. She sang “Speechless,” a song dedicated to her father, as well as “You and I,” her new, unreleased song. I gotta say, this was surreal for me. The emotion, the dedication, the love, the pain, the talent that is Gaga all came out there. I was emotional—she was awesome and inspirational.

Oh, and she definitely gets props for lying on her back on the piano, singing, playing the piano and strumming a guitar simultaneously. Mad props. She has an obscene amount of talent.

Lady Gaga spreads her wings and ascends on a platform while singing "So Happy I Could Die." | Photo by Ben Reiser

Then the curtain closed to do a set change, but Gaga stayed out, in only a plain white gown. I was confused at first, as it was a dramatic change from her otherwise extreme fashions. But my confusion immediately went away when wings and feathers grew out of her gown and moved as she sang “So Happy I Could Die” and ascended on a moving platform.

The curtain reopened to a stunning stage of creepy green lighting and jagged trees, so as to symbolize a scary Central Park. Gaga sang “Monster” and “Teeth,” and both songs in the concert seemed to be about fear of crime and danger in New York, as multiple dancers attempted to harm and eat Gaga. Also, Gaga spurted lots of blood. Fun stuff!

The mood quickly turned religious, even though the only change was the addition of a statue of an apostle with his hands out and a crucifix engraved on his chest. For those who have seen Gaga’s most recent music video, “Alejandro,” this is pretty much its icon. The song is amazing, and her live vocals sounded even better than the recording. The performance ended with the statue shooting up red lights and the crowd in utter exhilaration.

This set furthered Gaga's motif of fear in her show, making Central Park appear as a scary, fearsome place. | Photo by Ben Reiser

Another set change happened, but the performance during this one was kind of disappointing—“Poker Face.” Don’t get me wrong, I love the song, and her performance was amazing, but its placement in the set list seemed almost like an afterthought. There was nothing majorly significant about it in the concert, and, c’mon, the song was one of the top songs of 2009, if not, the decade!

Then we saw the Fame Monster. Literally. One of Gaga’s ironically notable fears is fame (what her sophomore album, “The Fame Monster,” is all about), so in this scene, her dancers brought an innocent and scared-looking Gaga out in a spunky green dress, and persuaded her to face her fans and the paparazzi (bonus points if you guess which song she sang!). The flashes from the pictures being taken in the crowd represented the paparazzi as she turned around to face the Fame Monster, a Loch Ness Monster-y creature, with flailing tentacles and sharp

Lady Gaga belts out her hit song "Paparazzi" while facing the intimidating Fame Monster. | Photo courtesy of Last.fm.

teeth, representing fame. She sang “Paparazzi,” and battled the monster, which sadly resulted in Gaga getting eaten. Sad face.

The curtain closed, and I overheard people worrying that she had finished. But oh, no.

We still had “Bad Romance.”

All of a sudden, everyone heard her sing the song’s beginning verse (“oh, oh, oh oh, ohhhh, oh-oh…”), and I got goosebumps. The curtain reopened, red lights flashed everywhere, and Gaga stood in center stage in a moving gyroscope. The crowd was so excited that they launched into “ra, ra, ah, ah, ah, roma, ro ma-ma, ga, ga, ooh, la, la” before Gaga even started. The performance was epically beautiful, and one of the most thrilling and memorable moments of my life.

Gaga and her dancers bowed, and tears streamed down her face. You could truly feel how important this was to her. At her show the day before (her opening at the arena), she spoke about how significant this specific venue was for her. She said,

“My name is Lady Gaga. I used to sit right over there, way far in the back and way up top. I used to stare at this side of the room, and I used to think, ‘I’m gonna be up there.’…We did it, Little Monsters. We made it to the Monster Ball. We made it to Madison Square Garden. Thank you for making my dream come true. I love you so much.”

Fame monsters and crotches on fire, it’s all there at the Monster Ball tour. But really, if you truly appreciate Gaga, you must see this show. The sets are beautiful, her outfits are jaw-dropping, and she is the most dedicated performer the world has ever seen. It was one of the most momentous nights of my life, and if you go, I promise it will be for you too.

To see where Lady Gaga is touring, check out her official webpage!

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