Lady Gaga admitted she cried before going onstage at New York's Roseland Ballroom last night — not strictly because it was the last performance before the beloved venue closed its doors permanently, but "because this city makes me feel so strong.
"Suddenly you wake up and you just know who the fuck you are," she said, after opening the finale of her seven-show residency at the midtown venue with a solo "Born This Way," performed on a platform in the stripped-down cabaret style she debuted at the downtown clubs where she got her start at Stefani Germanotta. "We've come so far."
Roseland opened in New York in 1919 and hosted icons like Count Basie in the Thirties. It relocated to its 52nd Street home (a former skating rink called Gay Blades) in the late Fifties, where a display inside touted the number of couples who'd met there and married. In the Seventies and Eighties, the spot was a disco haven; in the Nineties its 3,500-capacity crowds moshed to Nirvana and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Its next occupants will be a 59-story apartment building, according to the New Yorker.
As a Manhattan native, chances are Gaga has many connections to the club, but she didn't regale the crowd with any personal stories about transformative nights on Roseland's famously springy dance floor (she earlier told a reporter about a Franz Ferdinand show there during her senior year of high school where she broke her nose in the pit). Instead, she stuck to her usual self-empowerment lectures ("Do you love you? Then scream!") and spent an outsized amount of time bidding farewell to the female dancer who slithered across the stage with her for Artpop's squelchy bisexual romp "Sexx Dreams."
Breaking with tradition in New York, where last nights at storied venues like CBGB are typically packed with surprises, Gaga brought no special guests and didn't deviate from the 11-song set list she'd played the prior nights, a tightly-packed mix of old songs ("Just Dance") and new ("Dope") that seem like a preview of her larger ArtRave: The Artpop Ball arena tour, which starts May 4th in Florida. There was no performance-art vomiting, though a powerful confetti cannon detonated during "Applause" that filled attendees' drinks (and mouths and notebooks) with colorful strips of paper.
Lady Gaga Frankenstein-danced across the stage to "Monster," then draped a rose-covered keytar across her shoulders for a rocked-up "Bad Romance," one of the night's standouts. The relatively cramped set-up didn't leave room for elaborate choreography, but her dancers wove themselves between her band members and up and down a rose-adorned catwalk high above the stage. The night's most magical moment actually happened on an auxiliary side platform typically reserved for VIPs, where Gaga stuck a replica F train and neon signs meant to conjure the Lower East Side. With Roseland's disco ball spinning above her head, she broke out Born This Way's "You and I," the power ballad that falls somewhere between Elton John and Foreigner. She planted her toned butt in the air and led a piano-and-voice sing-along until her band kicked in with some emotional heft. "I'm not leaving," she sang as the song wrapped. "This is my stage. This is my house."
But four songs later, without any tears or extra-special fanfare, it was all over. After a pumped-up rendition of Artpop's gender-bendy "G.U.Y.," Gaga thanked everyone for the "opportunity" and bid Roseland "goodnight." The crowd shuffled to the exit to the sounds of "Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite" as the disco ball twinkled above a colorful mass of New Yorkers for the last time.