Lady Gaga, aka Mother Monster, arrived in Australia late last week for her money-can't-buy concert at Sydney Town Hall – renamed for the one-off exclusive gig, The Sydney Monster Hall.
On a cold winter's night, over 500 fans and media (fans were the larger contingent by far) hit Sydney Town Hall to catch a punchy and action-packed Lady Gaga performance. As far as the eye could see there were diamantes, fishnet stockings, wigs and general Gaga costuming – and that was just the audience.
Tickets were as rare as hen's teeth – the only way you could score them was to beg steal and borrow if you were media (that's what I did), or win them (that's what other fans did).
No money could secure you a ticket – you had to prove you were a hard core fan. And that's just what 500 Little Monsters did by way of dressing up and/or photographing their dedication to the pop star. If you were lucky enough, you scored a double-pass to see Mother Monster at the Monster Hall.
After waiting for over an hour in the cold outside, and then another half an hour inside, The Gags made you earn her performance. Blood red lighting complimented the already Gothic-looking Concert Hall within Town Hall, and built the anticipation of Little Monsters both seated and standing.
Cue music, the dimming of the lights and Lady Gaga's first on stage appearance in the hall.
The first song was the title track of her latest album, 'Born This Way.' A solid number to warm her audience, Mother Monster wowed fans with a nude and gold diamante covered cat suit (also known as a unitard to children of the '80s like me) and well as some energetic and frenetic dance moves.
Next up, a medley of her classic hits – 'Just Dance,' 'Poker Face' and 'Telephone.' Classic hits in the sense that the songs are now two years old and from her debut album, 'The Fame,' and re-release 'The Fame Monster.'
'Alejandro' completed the first set, with a surprising five songs sung (or perhaps four-ish if you don't count the medley as full songs) before the first costume change.
After an instrumental interlude of 'Alejandro' in which Gaga's lead guitarist showed off his suitably 'rock-god' attire, the 'Paparazzi' singer reappeared on stage.
This time the pop star was clad in a classic Marilyn Monroe wig in turquoise (the colour being not-so classic), as well as a cut out black and silver diamante costume. Singing 'U+I' off her new album, a sheer black habit – or something similar – adorned Gaga's head.
This was the section in which Gaga rolled around on stage in a wheelchair wearing a black PVC mermaid tail. Given the layout of the stage, this wasn't visible to the audience toward the back of the hall and was picked up on after reviewing footage of the gig. Kudos to Mother Monster for paying tribute to a '90s Better Midler stage show.
Watch Lady Gaga's 'U+I' from Sydney 'Monster Hall'
Cue semi wardrobe change by whipping off the habit-thingey and voila, you have an almost new outfit.
Before leading into, 'Hair,' the big piano ballad of the evening, Lady Gaga promised her fans that she wouldn't be away from Australia for so long again, perhaps hinting at an impending tour announcement. Given Gaga only just retired her 'Monster Ball' tour in March this year, one would hope for her sake that she at least takes the rest of the year off.
After a heartfelt rendition of 'Hair,' 'Bad Romance' rounded out the second set. Sadly for us, no Beyonce was to been seen at the Monster Hall tonight.
Costume change number three saw the roll out of a semi-inverse version of the last unitard – a black on black cutout number with a giant gold-sequinned shoulder pad.
The costume change accompanied 'The Edge of Glory' in which Gaga jumped off the de-constructed metallic set, into what was presumably a foam pit or some such device to break her fall.
Sadly, Gaga then disappeared to change one more time for the encore. Did I mention in a 50 minute set Lady Gaga does a fair amount of costume changing?
The final outfit to accompany the final song, 'Judas,' was a gypsy-esque black-and-gold coin and chain bikini set, with yellow patterned tights beneath. Only Lady Gaga could pull the look off.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm a self-confessed Little Monster. I'm not an extremist, but I do love her work, her self-confident demeanour and her choice of attire. But tonight, at least for me, there was a little something missing.
While I found myself involuntarily putting my paws up (aka hands in the air) nearly every time I was commanded to by Gaga, I felt the show was lacking the overwhelming love and excitement I normally feel when seeing an artist or band I adore.
Perhaps it was the earplugs (I no longer wish to lose my hearing to loud concerts, just call me Nana) or perhaps it was the audience were overwhelmed to be in the presence of their idol, but I also felt at times as though the audience was slightly under-whelmed as well.
It could even be that we're so used to hearing and seeing a grandiose Gaga on radios and screens that when she appears in real life, we're not as excited as we should be. It could also be my jetlag and pinching back that make me a less keen Little Monster than usual.
Bottom line – Lady Gaga is an impressive performer. She can sing well live and she can dance at the same time, a feat not held by many singers.
She's a gracious star, and loves her fans greatly, henceforth the money-can't-buy concert tonight. But this time round I felt myself slipping from Gaga's normally hypnotic grip.
The queen of the quick costume change made it feel as though she took a million years to get changed each time tonight which pretty much killed most semblances of a buzz that I may have started to develop.
I still very much look forward to seeing Gaga live in concert when she comes back to tour again. Hopefully I will be a good Little Monster and turn up fresh as a daisy next time, to maximise my enjoyment of her show.
Oh, yeah. And Lady Gaga was brought to you by Take40.com, Vodafone All-Time Prepaid, Today Network, GO! and Channel V.
Rating 7 out of 10
Best Songs Classics Medley ('Just Dance,' 'Poker Face' and 'Telephone') and 'The Edge of Glory'