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“Hello, Apollo Theater…are you ready to fucking party tonight?”
When Lady Gaga, decked out in a silver bodysuit, blue wig and elaborate headpiece, asks you such a question, there is only one correct answer.
The last time a Lady Gaga tour stopped in her hometown of New York City, the artist did two nights at Citi Field stadium. Needless to say, every guest gathered at Harlem’s historic Apollo Theater — which holds about 1,500 people — on Monday knew just how lucky they were to be there.
The concert, which was invite-only for SiriusXM subscribers and Pandora listeners, celebrated the merging of the two companies. (“Did you all hear that Sirius XM and Pandora are uniting? That’s fucking hot. I wonder what kind of sex they’re gonna have,” Gaga joked at one point). Naturally, there were plenty of stars in attendance, with Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Neil Patrick Harris, Alaska Thunderfuck, Ginger Minj, Sharon Needles, Shangela, Aquaria, Adam Lambert, Clive Davis, Amy Poehler and Camila Mendes all spotted filing into the orchestra section.
For the show, Gaga scaled down her Enigma Las Vegas residency, keeping with that storyline while playing, as they say, only the hits from across every album. First-album singles like “Just Dance,” “Poker Face,” “LoveGame” and “Paparazzi” were all in the rotation, as well as The Fame Monster cuts (“Telephone,” “Bad Romance,” “Dance in the Dark”), Born This Way favorites (“The Edge of Glory,” “You and I”), Joanne’s “Million Reasons” and, for the encore, the Hot 100 topper “Shallow” from A Star Is Born.
Gaga peppered the show’s dialogue and lyrics with New York and Harlem references, earning cheers when she mentioned that she came “all the way from New York” and was “pissed that bitch took me out of Harlem at the Apollo theater.” (“That bitch” refers to the Enigma character, who leads Gaga on a mystical, Wizard of Oz/Ghost in the Shell-style journey.) Backup dancers, multiple costume changes and a keyboardist playing a futuristic Piano Arc only added to the electrifying production.
The multihyphenate also took a few minutes to speak about Pride Week and Stonewall’s 50th Anniversary. “We all lose our way, but we’ve got a lot of things to celebrate. It’s World Pride Week. I personally think Pride should exist 365 out of the year, but I’ll take a fucking global week,” she began. “And wow, on Friday, [it’s] the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. That was when our community said, ‘Enough is enough.’ And all hail to so many, including Ms. Marsha P. Johnson,” Gaga said of the Stonewall Riots of 1969. “What bravery, what courage, in the spirit of acceptance, the spirit of tolerance, the spirit of courage to be seen as you see yourself.”
“I have learned so much over the years from all my fans. I feel so blessed. Thank you for showing me, for teaching me,” Gaga continued. “I’ve learned something important…ask the question. ‘What is your pronoun?’ ‘Cause for a lot of people, it’s really hard. Their pronoun is not respected or they’re not asked. I’ve grown and changed over the years…we’re in this together.”
Finally, Gaga reminisced about the early days, before performing her Oscar-winning song “Shallow.” “I was just a girl on the Lower East Side with a keyboard,” she said, fighting back tears as she talked about what has and hasn’t changed (“Certainly, not my deep love and respect and gratitude for all of you”) since she hit it big. “I used to sit in my apartment and write songs about fame, boys, my family…I made it,” Gaga said. “They tried to take me down and I put my head back down and went back to work…and I looked up one day and I had a fucking Oscar in my hand.”
The concert will air in its entirety later this week on the following channels: SiriusXM Hits 1 on Friday at 5 p.m. ET/PT, Howard 101 on Friday at 11 p.m. ET and Pandora NOW on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET. It will also be rebroadcast on all three channels throughout the weekend.
“Dance in the Dark“
“The Edge of Glory“
“You and I“
“Born This Way“
This article was originally published by Billboard.
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