Lady Gaga Plays Triumphant Homecoming Show At Madison Square Garden

'Without New York, I would not exist,' Gaga tells NYC fans Tuesday night.

Before her hometown headlining debut at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night (July 6), [artist id="3061469"]Lady Gaga[/artist] tweeted a photo of herself standing in front of the New York arena’s marquee. The photo had no commentary except for the tag “#madisonsquaregaga,” and indeed, it seemed like she was on the verge of taking over the arena in the hours before she took the stage.

Some fans were dressed as characters from her videos — the Diet Coke curlers from the “Telephone” clip were particularly popular — while others took her glammed-up aesthetic to the hilt, with glitter, elaborate eye makeup and giant hair bows ruling the night. The fashion statements were all the more impressive given the weather in New York, where temperatures soared past the 100-degree mark on Tuesday.

Gaga’s Tuesday night concert was the first of three Monster Ball shows taking place this week in New York, which serves as the setting for the elaborately staged concert. During the course of her show, Gaga and her dancers veered all over the city, from the Lower East Side to the F train to Central Park. But it was obvious that Gaga was very aware that the fantasy world she’d created had been set up inside the arena where, as the young Stefani Germanotta, she took in quite a few performances by music’s biggest stars.

“My name is Lady Gaga and I used to sit right over there, way far in the back and way up top,” she said at one point during the evening. She then reeled off a list of artists she’d seen during her past visits to the Garden — Madonna, Cher, the Rolling Stones, Elton John, Kiss. “I used to stare at this side of the room, and I used to think, ‘I’m gonna be up there,’ ” she continued.

“Every second you watch me on this stage,” she told the crowd, “you remember, I was sitting where you are.”

Later in the show, she dedicated a wrenching performance of “Speechless” to her father, who was in the audience. She recalled the days of him helping her carry a piano down four flights of stairs so she could bring it to shows in the early part of her career and said, while pitched over the piano, “Of all the drunk men in my life, Dad, you’re my favorite.”

“Without New York, I would not exist,” Gaga then declared. “But I also would not exist without my friends,” she added, and after a lengthy rundown of the challenges she’d faced with the help of her pals she dedicated her new song “You and I” to them. Her performance of the rock-tinged track was full of passion, stretching into a near-epic where she pounded away on the piano.

The obvious nods to New York sprinkled into the evening — both within the show and timed to tonight’s setting — only seemed to energize the crowd, and Gaga fed off the adulation. By the time the night came to a close, there was a triumphant feeling in the air.

“We did it, little monsters,” she told the crowd after the night’s closing number, “Bad Romance.” “We made it to the Monster Ball! We made it to Madison Square Garden.

“Thank you for making my dream come true,” she continued. “I love you so much.”

What do you think of the Monster Ball Tour? Leave your reactions in the comments!