May 29, 2012 00:00
By Manta Klangboonkrong
Ecstasy for all of Bangkok's 'little monsters' at the Born This Way Ball
The wait felt too long, the expectations perhaps too high. But Lady Gaga let no one down in Bangkok with last Friday’s show, proving with every move that she deserves her superstar stature.
Fans were jamming into the grounds at Rajamangala National Stadium as early as 3pm, an eclectic mix of straights, gays, expatriates and locals, many clad in out-of-this-world costumes worthy of the Gaga wardrobe.
The arena looked more like a kid’s playground but with Halloween, cosplay and drag show piled in. Guys wore Afro wigs, fake blood and even “Kaka” football jerseys. It was fun to watch for the masses that assembled early to beat the traffic. Thanks to decent crowd control and traffic management, though, fans had several options to get to the stadium without having to use private cars.
The gates opened at 5 and folks got their first taste of ticket scanning for barcodes, the first time the anti-fraud measure was used here. It took a while, but we were soon enough inside the massive stadium, half closed off to give Gaga’s monumental stage enough room. The stage was covered in tarp. Two giant screens flickered impatiently. The crowd was delirious.
At 7.30 a DJ starting hyping the fans further, doing a good job with loud, banging electro set, only for the mood to sink again during a long pause before the main event began. “Come on out already!” one fan shouted. “I’ve been here since 3pm!”
It took an hour for his demand to be heard, but what an opening! A genocidal alien war was creating a new breed, brought to existence by Lady Gaga. As “Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)” began, there she was onstage on horseback. It was no unicorn, but the crowd went hysterical nonetheless.
The show continued with the haunting, hymn-like “Government Hooker”, then “Born This Way” with Lady Gaga as the mother alien giving birth to her beloved “little freaks”. The Born This Way Ball was underway at last.
The New York-born singer sang an enigmatic ballad and some synth-pop tunes and then revved things with rockier, heavier songs. With much reference to faith and religion came “Black Jesus + Amen Fashion”, “Bloody Mary” and “Judas”.
“Bad Romance” followed to phenomenal cheering from the crowd as Gaga appeared in a short white dress and Capricorn mask.
It was time to get jiggy during the electronic buzz of “Fashion of His Love” and the breakthrough hit “Just Dance”, during which Gaga enthused, “Do you remember years ago when you heard this song? I remember that it changed my life!”
The three-storey castle that dominated the stage was a truly amazing prop. It roved around, spun and split open for the singer and her dancers to prance about, adding dimension and versatility to the performance. The 100 speakers really did wonders, giving this concert the best sound Bangkok has ever heard at a live pop show.
The Lady then sang “Telephone” and the rocky “Heavy Metal Lover”, riding a big bike in a fetish outfit of fishnet stockings and skimpy thong. The metal continued thundering with “Bad Kids”.
The highlight in Thailand had to be seeing Gaga wear a chada – the traditional khon headpiece – which she borrowed from a dressed-up fan to sing “Fear”, lamenting how difficult it was for her being an outcast while striving to be different and yet accepted at the same time.
Then she sweet-talked her “little monsters”, about how she found her strength through them, and that she’d give up all her money and fame if she could just have their love forever.
“I went into the city and saw a beautiful show,” she announced, referring to her visit to the Bangkok Calypso drag show. “I saw such love and individuality. I really can’t not cry talking about this, because I wish so much that I had that when I was growing up.
“I just want you to know how incredibly amazing and fortunate you are you have such diverse, cultural city. And of course, my love for the LGBT community in Bangkok is this f**kin’ big!”
The singer sobbed and the gay and transgender fans screamed in joy.
Another ballad, “You and I”, followed with the singer on the piano, before she switched it up with “Americano”, “Poker Face”, “Alejandro” and “Paparazzi”, ending the show with the electro-rap “Scheisse”, all the little monsters pumping their paws and singing their hearts out, even the German verses.
We didn’t have to wait long for Gaga to reappear, with an encore comprised of the mega-hits “The Edge of Glory” and “Marry the Night”.
Lady Gaga certainly left Bangkok with a lot more little monsters than she had here before. She managed to engage the crowd, make them feel close to her, to feel special, even in such a big-scale setting. “Bangkok” or “Thailand” was mentioned in almost every song.
Gaga might not warrant much credit for originality, but she is undeniably a unique performer. Above all, she can sing, dance, write her own music and put together one quality, sold-out show after another in major cities all over the world.