Most would equate Lady Gaga concerts with large, sold-out arenas occupied by at least 15,000 screaming fans. But for seven nights last month, Gaga took the rose-adorned stage at New York City’s historic Roseland Ballroom; it was the last show the almost 100-year-old venue hosted before closing its doors for good Monday night. Thanks to a Special Access Night on Sunday sponsored by Citi, we were able to experience Gaga like we never could have anticipated: up close and personal.
Upon entering Roseland for the first time, we couldn’t believe how small the room was; we’d been expecting the aforementioned massive arena where the audience watches the majority of the show on a jumbo screen. With a maximum capacity of 3500, even those standing in the back could see the performer’s sometimes-sexual, sometimes-robotic, always-mesmerizing dance moves and ornately detailed costumes. Now a days, intimate venues like Roseland typically host smaller, up-and-coming artists; it was a rare treat to see an international star as large as Gaga take the tiny stage.
We arrived three hours before showtime, along with other members of the media, a dozen or so Citi folk, Gaga’s friends and family (she’s a native New Yorker), and a couple hundred “Little Monsters” invited for an exclusive look at sound check. A very non-Gaga-esque Stefani Germanotta (the performer’s legal name) took the stage in a plaid shirt, sheer black tights, and girl-next-door wavy brown locks (a stark difference from her usual sequined performance attire). Intermixed with the three songs she rehearsed, Lady Gaga chatted with the crowd, answered some questions taken from both Twitter and the crowd, and as always, inspired an entire room of adoring fans… “It’s all about your pure raw talent and your ability, not mine but everybody’s in this room. You should build your whole life like that. As long as your soul is good and your mind is good and what you’re making has integrity, if it can change one person’s life, that’s all that matters. Just one.”
After sound check, Gaga retreated back stage while the small crowd scattered to get drinks, buy t-shirts, and excitedly prepare themselves for the visual treat they were about to witness. Around that time, doors opened to the public and the small room slowly flooded with fans of all ages (we saw at least one girl who was approximately 12 years old and a woman who was nearing 80). At round 9pm, Gaga reappeared donning an oversized yellow(?) bouffant wig and red spandex leotard and sitting at a piano ready to serenade us with a stripped-down version of “Born This Way.” The most refreshing part of seeing this megastar perform live is that there’s never a moment when you wonder, Is she lip-synching? Gaga’s impressive vocal range sets her apart from the majority of her pop counterparts, and despite the entertaining theatrics, is truly the best part of her show.
The concert went on from there, seesawing back and forth between her moodier jazz-like renditions of “You and I” and “Poker Face” and her high energy dance hits from both her last album and her newest one. The “Bad Romance” performance was probably the crowd favorite but the confetti explosions during “Applause” left everyone giddy and wanting more. She followed it up with the eleventh and last song of the evening, G.U.Y. off her third and newest album ARTPOP. And with that, Gaga said good night to the crowd and to Roseland. We left the theatre with 3500 other fans energized and beaming, knowing we’d just witnessed something special.