LOS ANGELES — A Lady Gaga concert is unlike any other live music event for two reasons: First, Mother Monster obviously puts on one helluva show — passionate, energetic, etc. — and second, there's the amount of effort her most dedicated fans, the Little Monsters, put into their unbelievable, outrageous and scandalous ensembles. Braving the teeming masses in the floor section of a Gaga concert is like being dropped in the midst of a half-naked, sparkly, Lycra-filled Halloween parade.
So was the scene on Monday night at the Staples Center, where Gaga shared her blood, sweat and tears with the nearly 20,000 screaming audience members ... on her 25th birthday, no less.
"I'm going to kick your ass tonight!" Gaga declared after her opening number, "Dancing in the Dark," and at the start of "Just Dance." She challenged the crowd to stay on their feet and to be themselves, which became the theme of the evening.
"The Monster Ball will set you free," she said during a beat between "Just Dance" and "Fame." "You can be whoever you want to be."
Naturally, the crowd ate up every word Gaga spoke, particularly her words of encouragement and love for her fans.
"Thank you for the best birthday present you could give me," she said, indicating that the present was her fans themselves. "Thank you for still buying tickets to my show. Thank you for believing in my music."
And in between the heartfelt thanks, the Lady left room for joking around. She told the crowd that her dad had advised her to be extra careful during her birthday performance because her fans will throw gifts up onstage. "He said, 'Please be careful what you put in your mouth.' " Also, when one concertgoer indicated that they had brought her Nutella, she said she had to politely "rebuke" the gift because she had to prep for the "Judas" video.
Besides Gaga's words of wisdom and heartfelt thanks, of course, there was plenty of her chart-topping music. The major highlights of the show — in addition to a rousing "Happy Birthday" sung by the crowd toward the end of the evening — included "Born This Way," which Gaga performed twice: the first, a stripped-down version she delivered at the piano and accompanied with an inspiring story regarding a long-desired pair of ruby slippers and dreams that really do come true ("Someday someone will hand you a pair of ruby slippers!"); the second, her show-stopping second encore. Also very worthy of a mention were "Alejandro" — the choreography performed by Gaga's extremely talented and acrobatic core of dancers was incredible — the new ballad "You and I" and the always-killer "Bad Romance."
Do you have belated birthday wishes for Lady Gaga? Share them in the comments.