Someone must've slipped into Lady Gaga's dressing room minutes before her July 4th show in Atlantic City, New Jersey at Boardwalk Hall and said, "Miss Gaga, at the end of tonight's concert the world will end. This is your last night on Earth -- give it all you got!" Lady Gaga delivered every millisecond of her sold-out show of over 17,000 fans like it was the last minute of her 24-year-old life. You would've thought it was closing night of the successful Monster Ball tour -- but she is just getting started on the North American leg - which hits New York City this week - and fortunately BET.com was in the building to witness the most talked-about star in the world.
On Independence Day, the New York native once again proved why she is rightfully one of the biggest stars in the universe. She can dance, play an instrument (even when it's on fire!) and sing live, not having to succumb to lip-synching, which is a rarity these days. Plus, she is armed with sickening visuals that are somewhere between "The Wiz,” "Nightmare on Elm Street" and a Broadway show on an acid trip.
Gaga opened at 9 p.m. sharp with the pulsating "Dance in the Dark." She posed and teased the audience with her silhouette behind a black and white grid screen -- then appeared in a purple mist in an outfit that was half Prince in "Purple Rain" and half "Star Trek: The Next Generation" -- mixed with Gaga drama.
Unlike a standard sing-and-dance concert, the two-hour-plus Monster Ball tour is wildly theatrical, each song part of a storyline, taking you on a cathartic path of fire, monsters, God, music and love. Gaga and her monster friends start out on their journey to attend the Monster Ball; however, their car dies in a decayed urban neighborhood. But Gaga ensures us all -- we will make it to the ball. Gaga goes from a broken-down car to a subway to a twister to monsters in New York City's Central Park and eventually the Monster Ball. The audience will find acceptance, liberation and freedom, even if it's just for one evening in the fantastical land of Lady Gaga.
The real stars of Monster Ball are Gaga's fans, known as "little monsters." The "Poker Face" diva had control over every soul in the audience and let her monsters know that she locked the doors freeing everyone to be whoever they may be: “May tonight be your liberation!” She cried for freedom, insisting everyone to forget the judgments and damnations and to be their authentic selves regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race or any other label. This sounds like deep thought for a pop concert, but Gaga doesn't take herself too seriously. She talked of peeing in a cup in her dressing room, cracked jokes with the audience and had a sense of humor in each song. Gaga is not a preacher, she is a performer.
Take away the theatrics and a storyline fit for a campy Quentin Tarantino film, and the music was still there. She performed her chart toppers like "Paparazzi," "Just Dance,” "Alejandro" (a song dedicated to gays in the military, in which she roared, "'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' can kiss my a**!"), and "Telephone" (at the start of the song she answers a phone and says, "Beyoncé? You shady bitch!"). Her vocals were excellent, especially considering the aggressive dancing, which was backed up by a set of incredible dancers who doubled as characters in her journey to the Monster Ball. Plus, there were three background vocalists, a powerhouse band and, lest we forget, other-worldly fashion. You have to see it for yourself to believe it...
Not to let celebrating July 4th go by, Gaga hit the stage with firecrackers shooting out of her brassiere and hollering, "Happy 4th of July, you a**h*les!" Other highlights included Gaga playing piano with the heel of her boot, a surprise phone call to an audience member, a soulful performance of her new song, "You and I" and being eaten alive by a sea monster.
Lady Gaga's Monster Ball is not just a concert; it's an out of this world experience with an artist at her peak. Her devotion to her fans is clear, partly because in the way of Mary J. Blige or Jay-Z, she still relates as being one of them. There is no wall between Gaga and the hungry audience; she is just as hungry. She was once in their shoes and in many ways still is, having dreams and wanting them to come true. She explained, "I was picked on every day in school. I said to myself, 'I'm going to be a f*cking star!'" Well, she clearly is and liberating others along the way.
If Lady Gaga mysteriously disappeared from the music industry today, Monster Ball easily goes down as one of the most polished, passionate and nearly perfect stage shows from a musical artist in our generation. Lady Gaga has raised a musical bar that was getting disappointingly low. Lady Gaga's Monster Ball is easily the best concert I have ever attended.
Via Virgin Mobile Gaga is helping to raise money for homeless youth organizations. One out of every five homeless youth identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, which is a major cause of domestic violence. If you go to LadyVirgin.com you can make a donation to a homeless youth shelter near you, for every dollar that you donate Gaga will match it up to $25,000.
Clay Cane is the Entertainment Editor at BET.com. You can read more of his work at www.claycane.net.