“This is so exciting! How completely epic for an amazing venue,” Lady Gaga trilled in a Disney princess voice four songs into the first night of her closing residency at New York’s Roseland Ballroom, which also happened to be her 28th birthday. “I mean, what a dream come true. Who has a 10-day funeral?”
There was no vomit to be found during Gaga’s hour-long set, or any attention-seeking stunt melding performance art and pop music, a la her Doritos-sponsored South By Southwest performance just two weeks prior. No, the Roseland residency was about celebrating the many phases of Lady Gaga, the New York club kid-turned-global pop star.
Gaga, solo at the piano, kicked things off with a stripped-down, impassioned take on “Born This Way” and then tore through 10 more hits, fan favorites and deep cuts over the next 60 minutes. She also treated the sold-out audience to four outfit changes — basically a new one for every three songs — that were more function over flash (leotards and capes versus a meat dress), to remind everyone that she’s still the quick-change fashionista who danced on tables at St. Jerome.
For the intimate, for-the-Monsters ballad “Dope,” Gaga took to a sidestage where an elaborate recreation of the Lower East Side had been assembled, complete with an F train subway car and neon letters that spelled “176 Stanton Street,” the address of Gaga’s former apartment. Many of the sets were decked out in fake roses, a not-so-subtle tribute to a place named “Roseland,” after all, but one that allowed Gaga to have a little fun with props like a rose-covered keytar, which she strapped on for a rafters-scraping take on “Bad Romance.” At one point, she climbed up a ladder (festooned with roses, natch) to sing the song’s final chorus (“I don’t wanna be frieeeends!”) to the left balcony – and left them with a long, lingering glimpse of her red leotard-clad ass to boot.
The show was formatted for more of a club setting, and a more low-key, celebratory vibe. It was less of a proper preview of her forthcoming ArtRave: The Artpop Ball Tour, and more of a chance for the most dedicated Monsters (and Citi cardholders, as the residency was prominently sponsored by the bank) to have an impassioned sing-along with Gaga before she starts playing arenas again.
There was an almost judiciously sanctioned sprinkling of songs from all four of Gaga’s albums — the hits from “The Fame” (“Poker Face,” the piano version of course, and “Just Dance”), a deep cut from “The Fame Monster” (“Monster,” the overlooked title track), selections from “Born This Way” (including deluxe-edition track “Black Jesus – Amen Fashion,” chosen more for its New York City narrative than its place in fans’ list of all-time faves) and her latest, “Artpop” (“Applause” closed the set, “G.U.Y.” served as encore).
If SXSW served as a statement about how brands should fund artists’ creative expression, Gaga’s Roseland residency was about giving the people what they wanted. (“Do you remember where you were when you first heard this song?” she said as she began “Just Dance.”) If the night ended rather abruptly after almost exactly 60 minutes, perhaps that was the point. After all, there’s six more shows to go.
Gaga’s final Roseland show is April 7.
Born This Way (piano)
Black Jesus – Amen Fashion
You And I
Poker Face (piano)
|Pop Shop Podcast: Lana Del Rey, ‘G.U.Y.’ Video|
|In this week’s episode, we break down “Frozen’s” latest chart achievement, Lady Gaga’s “G.U.Y.” video and Lana Del Rey’s impending superstardom. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes HERE.|