Lady Gaga - Roseland Ballroom - 4/6/14
Better Than: Anyone else closing out Roseland Ballroom's long and storied chapter in New York City.
Courtesy of 42 West & Getty Images Gaga opening the second to last Roseland Ballroom show
With a stage hidden by a deep red curtain surrounded by oversized, large roses, it's clear Lady Gaga took her role as emcee for Roseland Ballroom's "10-day funeral," as she has called it, seriously. In front of a slightly more subdued crowd than expected in terms of dress (more casual concert-wear than Gaga costumage), Gaga entered from a door also shrouded in roses at house left, burlesque-teasing the audience with only a hand and leg before revealing herself completely. She posed and vamped before sitting at her first piano of the night, a less showy opening than one can be accustomed to experiencing at a pop concert. In a way, she was making it clear the set was less about her and more about the venue she was helping celebrate and close out.
There are many reasons people are proclaiming the demise of Gaga, the end of her career, and the emptiness of ARTPOP. There is validity in some of the more statistical claims, ones that show lagging sales compared to her previous albums and smash EP, The Fame Monster. Yet, she was chosen unopposed as the person to close out a near century of history. From vaudeville to dancehall to pop music, Roseland Ballroom's diverse venue has stood in midtown and lasted through NYC's most formative eras.
While we talk about the end of Gaga, we still talk about Gaga. We feed the fame monster, giving her another classic era to fulfill -- the great fall from grace. Her first two major tours, 'The Fame Ball' and 'The Monster Ball,' were entirely centered around fame -- wanting it, experiencing it, losing it, regaining it. Gaga is a firm student of celebrity, and even as negative feedback rolls in, she uses it to her advantage, having even used a "boo-ing" sound in her VMA performance of "Applause" and headlines about her weight in her AMA performance of "Do What U Want."
See also: The Lady Gaga After-Party at Goldbar
Still, in November, Gaga was chosen to close out Roseland Ballroom's stay in New York with not just a single show, but a 10-day residency. Since her 28th birthday on March 28th, she's performed seven shows at Roseland. Seeing her second-to-last performance at the venue, and second-to-last performance ever hosted at the venue (last one tonight), Gaga encompasses so much of what Roseland has been over the years. Beyond the proud NYC stamp she wears on her sleeve as both Stefani Germanotta and the act of Lady Gaga, she's pure theatre but also disco and a lot of dance. She withholds the eras that made Roseland an institution within her own act.
Courtesy of 42 West & Getty Images
From start to finish, she honed in all of these elements. Her moments behind the piano, like the acoustic opening version of "Born This Way," was pure jazz and wildly sensational. Her voice, massive and underrated, filled the room with its power and energy. She followed with another track off of Born This Way, "Black Jesus + Amen Fashion," the only questionable choice within the set given its bordering on accessorizing during its performance. The first outfit change of the night came between "Black Jesus" and "Monster," off of her aforementioned mega EP The Fame Monster. She came out dressed in red and covered in roses, later donning a keytar with a similarly rose-covered strap for her smash "Bad Romance," the first jolt the audience experienced and created during the show.
In between songs, Gaga offered some playful, theatrical banter in her best whispery-baby Marilyn Monroe impression. She made sure to point out her genuine pleasure in seeing in the balcony collaborator Tony Bennett (with whom she's releasing an album of duets with later this year), and director/photographer Steven Klein, who was behind her "Alejandro" video. She climbed a rose-draped ladder to Tony at one point and later remarked on how moving it was to see her dad and Steven Klein meet and hug backstage. Being the theatrical, bawdy star she is, she ended her very genuine anecdote on Klein and her father by saying "Daddy, he's the nice man who took that pretty picture of my pussy!" in a heightened version of the whispery-baby voice.