Razz writer (and dedicated little monster) Harry McCarthy gives you a detailed run down of the whole experience whilst we chip in with a few of our best bits…
Love her, loathe her, live to die for her – whatever your opinion on Lady Gaga, one thing you cannot deny is that when she puts on a show, she goes all out. The sell-out Monster Ball Tour of 2009-11, with its fountains of blood, fifteen-foot anglerfish, and flaming pianos, proved that our Lady is not just an auto-tuned disco-stick rider, but one of the greatest live performers of the modern era. I was lucky enough to be stood right at the front (in six-inch thigh high PVC boots and fairy lights, I might add) to witness the spectacle back in 2010, and made a vow to myself that every time she came to our fair isle, I would do everything I could to ensure that I got to see it. True to my word, Saturday 8thSeptember saw me camped outside Twickenham Stadium from 8am, clad head to toe in red lace, shod with custom made seven-inch PVC platforms that were entirely lacking a heel, ready for the Born This Way Ball. 8pm, Gaga’s expected start time, seemed like a lifetime away. So when it eventually came, was it worth the wait? ……You bet it was.
To briefly explain to those who don’t count themselves among the millions upon millions of ‘Little Monsters’, the agonising wait was necessary in order to gain entry to the hallowed ‘Monster Pit’ – an enclosed area in the middle of the stage, reserved for 1,000 of the best-dressed, most dedicated, die-hard fans of all. And gain entry I did, proudly taking my place in the sea of glitter, leather, and a whole lot of sweat.
When the time finally came, and the intro to ‘Highway Unicorn’, one of Gaga’s lesser known album tracks, began, with Mother Monster (that’s Gaga, by the way) riding in on a mechanical unicorn, the place erupted. Seemingly out of nowhere, this 1,000-strong crowd of civilised (if bizarrely dressed) human beings were transformed into… well, Little Monsters. Although my privileged position in the Pit prevented me from seeing those on the other side, the wall of screams and chanting were a pretty strong indication that the rest of the stadium was having just as much fun as we were. But none of this came close to what was to follow.
If the Monster Ball was a spectacle, then the Born This Way Ball was in an entirely different stratosphere. Over the course of her two-hour set, Gaga gave birth to herself out of a giant inflatable vagina, transformed into a human motorbike, flung herself from the top of the full-sized gothic castle set, and murdered a dancer with a smoke-ring-firing gun.
Our thoughts: We weren’t sure what to make of this particular entrance but it just exemplifies that Gaga knows how to perfectly weave political, sexual and post-modern idealisms into one indefinable moment!
Never one to shy away from expressing herself stylistically, she treated the crowd to no fewer than fourteen costumes, each one a stroke of genius, with hovering dresses and horned headpieces aplenty. But the veritable feast of latex, leather, and Louboutin would not have been enough to sustain 55,000 hungry Little Monsters – the music had to stand up to it, too. And boy, did it. From the golden oldie ‘Just Dance’ to edgier later tracks such as ‘Scheiße’, each song on the 22-song setlist (which would have been 25 had the organisers not pulled the plug in compliance with Twickenham’s curfew) was performed with dazzling vocal power and energy and, most importantly of all, completely live. Say what you like about Mother Monster; her ability to belt out a hit is beyond reproach.
But for me, the most thrilling part of the concert was not the spectacle, but Gaga’s incredibly touching engagement with her fans. When she took her seat at the motorbike piano to sing John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, a deafening silence fell over the stadium as the hearts of 55,000 people were simultaneously captured. When, pumped with adrenaline, she screamed at the crowd, asking if they ‘gave a f***’, everyone was united by a resounding ‘NO’. And when, out of a need to be close to her Little Monsters at all times, she pulled four young fans onto the stage to walk the catwalk with her during the Finale, she further strengthened the now unbreakable bond she has with all of us. That is why we go gaga for Gaga.
Not because she simulates her own suicide on national television or clads herself in meat on the red carpet, but because she fully understands the responsibility that comes with being a role model; she cares. Thanks to her indefatigable quest for acceptance, we can proudly say that we really were ‘Born This Way.’ And, thanks to her creative genius, we can don our leathers, hold our paws up high, and celebrate it.
Our thoughts: Though we unfortunately cannot claim the same level of commitment to Gaga as Harry, after watching her perform you can completely understand why she demands such admiration and unconditional love from her fans. She is a flawless performer, a perfectionist, but at her base, a human being who feels as lucky to be on stage as those who adore her feel in the crowd.
Written by Harry McCarthy.