NEW YORK —
After a rousing set from the Scissor Sisters, the arena's lights dimmed and the crowd went crazy as the chugging beat of "Dance in the Dark" played, counting down Mother Monster's entrance.
"New York City, did you guys come to party tonight?" she asked as she appeared. "The Monster Ball will set you free."
In a sheer dress and nun's habit, Gaga performed "Love Game."
"My name is Lady Gaga, and I was born and raised in the unbreakable streets of New York City," she proclaimed. "Thank you so much. Tonight, I want you to forget all of your insecurities because I didn't used to be brave but you have made me brave, little monsters."
She then kicked it old school with "Boys Boys Boys."
"Are we gonna get divided now if I put this on?" she asked before pulling on a Yankees cap. After a quick chat with a fan, she went right into "Telephone," without an appearance from Beyoncé, despite fan murmurings that Queen B might make an appearance.
Gaga then sat at her piano and slowed things down with "Speechless."
"I come from a long line of Italian men. Freakin' eye makeup fell off," she interjected, peeling off her false eyelashes. "If you think I'm going to go on HBO without fingernails, you're wrong. The men in my family all really like to drink, so I spent my whole life chasing after men who drink as much as them, so cheers to all of you."
She tailored the lyrics to her hometown and the men she knows with shout-outs to baseball games and her former nail salon on Clinton Street. For a moment, the show became more cabaret then dance hall. "And God bless the New York Fire Department: They told me I couldn't light my piano on fire."
Before hitting the piano again for "You & I," she had a message for the excited, cheering crowd: "This is for you, New York. This is on my new record, Born This Way."
She belted: "There's something about Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, Staten Island ... you and I."
Later emerging as an angel, Gaga performed "So Happy I Could Die." "Your outfit is amazing," she shouted to her fans.
Before the crowd-pleaser "Monster," she asked the crowd, "Do you think I'm sexy, 'cause I think you're sexy. ... You were born with a little extra strength. ... I'm up here to empower all of you."
In the midst of performing "Teeth," Gaga laid out on the stage floor and began to feel up a male dancer. "Just in case you ever wonder if I ever lip sync, the answer is no. ... Show me your teeth," she said. "It's a really good thing this is for HBO."
A saint statue was rolled out onto the stage for "Alejandro." "Put your hands up for equality," Gaga urged. "Love each other."
Given all the excitement, it was easy to forget the whole show is about Gaga trying to get to the Monster Ball. When she finally arrived at the ball, she played "Paparazzi."
"Thank you so much for being brave," she told her fans as firecrackers exploded from her bra. "And when they ask you 'How was Lady Gaga?' you can tell them we burned the place to the f---ing ground. I don't want to be your queen. You were born this way, baby."
After a short intermission, Mother Monster reappeared for an encore, pleasing the room with "Bad Romance." "You'd better not leave when this song is over 'cause there's just one more surprise," she promised. "You're my heart and soul."
She stood fierce and proud, taking in the crowd. "I might do something a little extra special for you, but only if you scream really slutty for me," she proclaimed before exiting the stage as the band played out "Bad Romance."
To the excitement of her fans, Gaga emerged in her Grammy attire to perform "Born This Way." "Where's all my girls?" she asked. As dancers took the stage beside her, she said, "We just want to remind you all tonight, we want you to remember to never give up on your dreams."
She sang part of the song a cappella, then played it full out, reenacting her memorable Grammy performance. The show ended with her and her dancers in an embrace as the curtain came down over them.
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