Review: Katy Perry at 1STBANK Center, 7/26/11
KATY PERRY at 1STBANK CENTER | 07/26/11
The crowd at Katy Perry last night was exactly as expected. Armies of sprayed and glittered bodies evoked every variation of Perry's persona over the last half-decade: girls from preschool to high school, donning blue Bettie Page cut wigs, candied and bejeweled corsets and homemade T-shirts with Perry-inspired sayings, darted around the 1STBANK Center , shrieking and waiting to see the princess in person.
DJ Skeet Skeet was the first opener, nothing more than merely a time-slot filler who unimpressively offered up a tiny set for the anxious and Perry-obsessed. He mostly shared remixes of currently popular tracks, like his syrupy take on Adele's "Rolling in the Deep," pushing "play" and walking away to wave his hands in the air and talk about his Facebook page on,stage. Frankly, Skeet Skeet was the last thing the Perry minions wanted to see, but he kept it short and light, with minimal reaction.
Next was Swedish diva Robyn, a truly incredible performer in her own right. On this tour, Robyn just seemed to be too much for the Perry crowd. Not carrying the visually sugary sweetness of Katy, but not quite as off the wall as someone like Gaga, Robyn existed in a (sometimes) uncomfortable middle ground. The crowd stood and stared as Robyn kicked and gyrated from the tippytoes of her Spice Girl Timberlands, pushing with a cardiovascular force through songs like "Fembot" and "Cobrastyle" as little eyes stared in silence. Kicking her legs and making sexual gestures with her hands, Robyn's tiny figure almost disappeared as aqua-colored lights bounced off the virginal pink floor-to-ceiling curtain barely concealing Perry's awaiting fantasy world.
She channeled Cyndi Lauper with a cooling version of "Dancing on my Own," working as hard as she could to grab just a little of the venue's attention. In another twist of oddness, Robyn consumed a banana on stage and threw the peel at the audience, inducing further unflinching stares. On "Never Be Mine," Robyn brought Baltimore club kid Rye Rye to the stage to duet with her, before she sewed up the end of a short set. Robyn's beautiful voice was all but lost in the cavernous space, and her "I don't give a fuck" performance was completely missed by onlookers.
Less then five minutes after Robyn left the stage, the audience was already shouting Perry's name, anxiously sitting through Katy commercials for Katy products on the big screens. It wasn't long before those big screens were flooded with visions of Perry's fluttering and giant eyes, a bizarre fairytale beginning to unfold with every second involving poor little Katy working in a scary butcher shop under the tyranny of a toothy and sweaty meat cutter, in search of her real-life cat companion, Kitty Purry.
The screaming reached a fever pitch just as Katy appeared atop a cupcake mountain in a peppermint A-line dress, her pale legs glistening with rhinestones, while giant pieces of fake candy spun in circles on her frame. This would be the first in what seemed like dozens of welcomed costume changes throughout the two-hour event, which felt like a never-ending ride through the glossy mental compartments of Perry's own fantasy world.
Drenched in pastels, Perry's dance troupe orbited the woman as she pushed through "Hummingbird Heartbeat," "Waking Up in Vegas" and, after another costume change, "Ur So Gay." "Peacock" saw the world's luckiest seventeen-year-old boy named Oliver be cherry-picked from the audience and brought on stage to canoodle with Perry, now dressed in full bird-like regalia. After she cast him back out into the sea of pale hands, Katy and crew finished with hand-to-mouth gestures that matched the song's dirty theme.
Anytime Perry spoke to her audience directly, she seemed to perfectly channel Gwen Stefani's girly greatness, and there was a lot of this action through the course of the evening -- like right before her lounge-ish version of "I Kissed a Girl." Miss Katy took great care in cooing at her fervent audience, telling them stories and giggling along. Another cartoonish facet of Perry's genius is her ability to be the living doll her littlest fans want her to be, all while telling dirty jokes only adults would understand.
The mean butcher once again appeared on the screens above, and novelty-sized steaks and sausages dropped from the ceiling on cables, turning the stage into a deviant meat locker. "Circle the Drain" now saw Perry in a black cat suit, before a green sky of lasers moved her into "Alien." For "Pearl," the pop star was then draped in a sparkling and saintly silver-and-white caftan as a swing made out of two dancers' bodies lowered from the ceiling for her to sit on. She was then strapped into a platform that raised her high above the crowd, taking her presence to a Virgin Mary level.
Disappearing backstage momentarily, Perry soon returned, this time in pink and on a non-human swing for "Not Like The Movies," as the venue was filled with bubbles. Her live band now took on acoustic instruments and moved to candy cane stools at the front of the stage for what the performer called "Katy's Karaoke." Between cutesy jokes, she sang silly half-versions of Rihanna's "Only Girl (in the World)," Rebecca Black's "Friday," "Willow Smith's "I Whip My Hair Back and Forth" and the Jay-Z, Pimp C and Bun B classic, "Big Pimpin'," complete with (what looked like) a pre-taped recorder solo on the rhinestone-covered instrument.
Review continues on next page. Set List on next page...
A cotton-candy-looking cloud lowered from the ceiling, and Perry was strapped in and given a glittering guitar of her own. While she sang "Thinking of You," the platform moved the length of the arena, allowing her to get close to the fans at the back. She was pulled in and once again disappeared into her backstage Patricia Field/Betsey Johnson-inspired closet for another change, while her dancers were introduced by name on the big screens.
The audience was brought back to the fairy tale, which had Perry still in pursuit of Kitty Purry. She appeared again shortly after for "Hot N Cold" and undertook no fewer than half a dozen costume changes before the song was done. "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" was followed by a cover of Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody," at which point Katy took the opportunity to bring fans -- a mix of tweens, babies and drag queens -- on stage to dance with her. She made several little girls' dreams come true by squeezing and hugging them and posing for Facebook pictures.
"Firework" allowed Perry a finale, indoor pyrotechnics in all colors of the rainbow filling the giant room with bright lights and an air of sulfur and heat. The princess was then lowered into the floor. An encore, of course, brought "California Gurls" front and center, giant beach balls pushed out into the audience as a Hershey's' Kiss-clad Perry led the crowd in a sing-along. A candy-striped gun was placed in Katy's hands, and she tarred and feathered the audience with foam and confetti -- and the big show was over.
Katy Perry exists in a world all her own. Creating the perfect balance of fantasy and reality, the entertainer sits high atop her pop-culture perch like an almost-real Barbie. Though the show was rife with lip-synching, Perry did belt it out when she needed to. But it wouldn't have mattered anyway: Every pair of eyes was there to see the princess in the flesh and consume her every perfect move.
Personal Bias:I am easily pacified by pretty girls, pastels and good pop music. Katy is/has all of those things.
Random Detail:An older male behind me kept yelling obscene remarks at Katy whenever there was a quiet moment in the show. I felt like taking a thousand showers after being forced to be near this man who was, by my best assessment, a sexual predator.
By the Way:Before Katy came on, a "Smooch Cam" prowled the audience for couples, baiting them to kiss. The result? Awkward make-outs mostly involving parental chaperones.
07/26/11 - 1STBANK CENTER
1. Teenage Dream
2. Hummingbird Heartbeat
3. Waking Up In Vegas
4. UR So Gay
6. I Kissed A Girl
7. Circle The Drain
9. Who Am I Living For
11. Not Like The Movies
12. Acoustic covers medley:
"Only Girl (In The World)" Rihanna
"Big Pimpin'" Jay-Z, Pimp C and Bun B
"Friday" Rebecca Black
"I Whip My Hair Back and Forth" Willow Smith
13. Thinking of You
14. Hot N Cold
15. Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)
16. I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Whitney Houston cover)
18. California Gurls
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.