NEW YORK (Billboard) - Lady Gaga may be best known for her gaudy outfits and over-the-top stage shows, but at her hometown headlining debut at Madison Square Garden Tuesday, the pop phenomenon proved she's a regular girl at heart.
Although extravagant attires (including a nun-like transparent getup with two pieces of white tape on her chest), fake blood and sparks-shooting bras were still front and center, Gaga also made it a priority to show her gratitude by dedicating songs to her father, her fans, her native New York City and her friends.
"My name is Lady Gaga, and I used to sit right over there, way far in the back and way up top," she said, pointing toward the top left side of the venue. "I saw Madonna, Cher, the Rolling Stones, Elton John, KISS. I used to stare at this side of the room, and I used to think, 'I'm gonna be up there,'" she declared, gazing at her own elaborate stage. "So, every second you watch me on this stage, you remember I was sitting where you are," Gaga said as the sold-out room roared in response.
Later in the show, Gaga dedicated a soaring performance of "Speechless" to her father, who was in the audience -- one of the highlights of the evening. "I remember when he would carry my piano down the four flights of our walk-up when I had shows," Gaga recalled about her father's support during the early part of her career. "Of all the drunk men in my life, Dad, you're my favorite," she half-jokingly said as she dragged her high-heeled boots on the piano.
Gaga's two-hour long concert was the first of three Monster Ball shows taking place this week in New York -- she also played Wednesday and was due to play Friday. During her show, the star, her supporting cast and friend Posh -- whom Gaga said once shared an apartment with her in Manhattan's Lower East Side -- enacted a trip around all over her beloved city, from Brooklyn to LES and Central Park by car, train and down a glittery road to make their way to the Monster Ball. "The monster ball will set you free!" she shouted. "Little monsters reign supreme!"
"Without New York, I would not exist," Gaga declared. "But I also would not exist without my friends. They were there with me through alcohol, bad boyfriends, girlfriends," she added before passionately performing her emotional new song "You and I" in dedication to them.
Gaga also sang "Just Dance" early in the night and toward the end hit "Alejandro," "Telephone" and "Paparazzi," as the octopus-like Fame Monster taunted her.
"We did it, little monsters," she told the crowd after the night's closing number, "Bad Romance." "We made it to the Monster Ball! We made it to Madison Square Garden," she said with a sense of triumph. "Thank you for making my dream come true. I love you so much."