Lady Gaga’s first-ever HBO special is nearly 120 minutes of Gaga onstage and giving fans unprecedented behind-the-scenes access. A mixture of concert footage in color and backstage shots in black-and-white, HBO’s “Lady Gaga Presents the Monster Ball Tour: At Madison Square Garden” is a love letter to her hometown, fans and her roots and also puts viewers in the front row at one of her shows.
The special opens with Gaga greeting her friends on the Lower East Side in Manhattan and buying a coffee at a local deli decked out in a biker jacket, bodysuit and heels. She struts through the neighborhood and into an SUV. She pulls up to Madison Square Garden. From the car, she greets her fans. “You know how many times I came to this arena? And now they’re opening up these gates for us,” she marvels to her team.
Now viewers are backstage as she puts on makeup and confesses, “I start to think about all the people that have tried to stop me, and I get this super-intense fury. … I just sometimes feel like a loser still.”
The biggest reveal in the special is watching Gaga backstage singing a few lines of her still-unreleased Born This Way track “Marry the Night.” It happens fast, but Little Monsters are sure to eat up footage of her singing the track to herself.
“I’m gonna marry the night/ I won’t give up on my life/ I’m a warrior queen/ Live passionately tonight,” she sings to herself, waiting for her show to begin. This moment marries her pre-show life with her stage life. And just like that, fans are now at the Monster Ball at Madison Square Garden . The concert footage was shot earlier this year during two nights at MSG.
The Monster Ball itself has been edited with a constant stream of Gaga-isms about her fans, adversity and individuality, along with quick frenzied backstage shots, song changes (old and new) and, of course, costume changes (many of which are documented in those backstage moments). It gives anyone who hasn’t been there in person a good idea of what the show is all about.
The set list includes: “Just Dance,” “You and I,” “Born This Way,” “Alejandro” and many other Gaga favorites that are highlighted by Gaga’s ferocious presence and over-the-top staging. After the concert wraps, fans are once again backstage as Gaga, her team and her family celebrate the show. In a particularly touching moment, she hugs her dad. Gaga is seen leaving MSG in a feathered jacket as the special ends. During the credits, fans are treated to one last treat: Gaga practices “BTW” with her backup singers a cappella.
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