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  • Sr Gregor is stuck on the couch: Lady Gaga Presents: The Monster Ball Tour at Madison Square Garden

    Sr Gregor has a head cold and catches up on some DVR recordings
    Promo poster for the HBO specialSo, I wouldn't say I'm a "fan", per se. She has a few good pop-club hits that I'll bounce my head to, she does a number of things that I give mad respect for, and I probably know a few more things about her and her Haus of Gaga than a casual nodding awareness of her would warrant, but I'm not raving for stuff that does. She's just cool and unique, and I can dig that. Nonetheless, when stuck on the couch looking for something other than my usual TV fair of Doctor Who, Anthony Bourdain, Top Gear, Bones, House, and whatever show Ramsey has going on, I found myself DVRing Gaga's Monster Ball to play in the background while working on articles, playing games, and so on.

    Concerts on TV are weird. Mind you, I've done a fairly wide assortment of concerts and megaconcerts in person: Paula Abdul back in the early 90s, Billy Joel, Nickelback, the Beach Boys, the first Rockfest, Portland's Big Stink, Ozzfest, Dirty Vegas, as well as lesser known local bands, duets, or artists (Voltaire, Smoochknob come to mind). In my opinion, live concerts are best experienced, ya know, live. So, as far as how well of a concert performance she put on goes, I couldn't really say. The fans sure seemed to enjoy it, but the energy and vibe doesn't really translate well across the screen, and camera direction draws your attention to things that you either might not otherwise notice or be interested in. About the only thing tv coverage of the concert offers are some glimpses of the work that goes on backstage, which are interesting if you were ever a theater geek like me, but otherwise don't add much to the experience.

    That said, the performance overall is pretty good. The playlist order is well paced, with crescendos and ebbs in the tempo spaced out and timed perfectly to keep the crowd entertained and involved with the show without wearing them out too early or blowing its load too soon. The set changes are worthy of a big Broadway musical - this isn't just some girl bouncing on the stage with microphone in hand, for certain. The costume design is simultaneously weird as hell and subversively fascinating - keeping your attention. Sometimes I found myself intrigued by the talent it must take to either dance and sing easily in those outfits, or to design a costume that looks so hindering and yet be so free-moving.

    There's no denying that Gaga is talented. Playing a piano flawlessly while wearing three-inch-long nails, shifting from soft a cappella vocalizations to growling screams and back, switching between hiphop and tap dancing and maintaining enough breath to keep singing, and her ability to play the crowd - drawing them in, making them feel a part of the experience all give note to a truly talented gal. If you stick through to the credits,an a cappella "Born This Way" showcases her vocal talents to great effect.

    Is it worth watching? If you're a Gaga fan, definitely. If you just kinda dig some her music, its a good thing to have going on in the background. And if you ever thought she was just a typical pop star, I think seeing pieces of this concert might just change your opinion.