Katy Perry gives every indication she's sort of like the rest of us in Vancouver
At Rogers Arena on Tuesday, July 19
Good lord—despite all evidence to the contrary, Katy Perry is human after all.
Truthfully speaking, there was little to support this argument for the first half of a Tuesday night spectacle that was heavy on eye candy but entirely lacking in moments that didn’t seem prefabbed. And by eye candy, we’re not just talking Perry, who, almost eerily, looked beyond pinup-perfect.
Pink cotton-candy clouds hung from the rafters of the hockey rink, floating over a stage studded with giant swirled lollipops, Jolly Rancher–coloured steps, and a massive candy-cane ramp. No attention to detail was spared; hell, the entire venue smelled like pink cotton-candy and not just because someone had set up a confectioner’s stand next to the merch table. (What a merch table it was, the offerings ranging from semi-risqué shirts such as “I Wanna See Your Pea Cock” to a Katy Perry-in-shiny-vinyl black-light poster designed to provide the average teenage boy with Grade A whacking material for the duration of his tortured adolescence.)
All this is a tip-off that the night wasn’t exactly all about the music, which is a good thing because a good half-hour of filler could have been trimmed from the two-hour set list and no one would have gone home disappointed.
The show kicked off with a pleasantly surreal video taking us to a “not so far away” land, where a girl named Katy toiled in a black-and-white butcher shop by day, and dreamed of running away with the dreamboat in the cupcake store by night. And then it was showtime, California pop’s current It Girl rising out of the floor with pinwheel mints–style candies spinning on her dress (and right boob)—for “Teenage Dream”.
A couple of costume changes later, and Perry looked in danger of losing the very young, 90 percent female crowd early, her fans evidently taking her suggestion that everyone sing along to “Ur So Gay” as some sort of secret cue to hit Twitter. A semi-rocking “Peacock” pulled things out of the fire quickly, with the tailfeather-shaking singer surrounded by a chorus of girls straight out of Caesars Palace.
Perry got big bonus points for not only getting “I Kissed A Girl” out of the way early, but also reinventing it as a bump ’n’ grind, striptease vamp. Less successful was her leading the song with an extended segment where she pulled “Travis from West Van” out of the audience, got him to strip to the waist, and then ended a flirting session with a quick nipple twist and a kiss on the cheek.
It all would have been fine if you weren’t left with the feeling that “Travis” probably pops up in every show, no matter what the city. No better was Perry shouting “How you feeling Vancouver?” every time there was a lull in the action.
So where did things start to go from a soulless, by-the-numbers performance to a show that made a genuine connection with the faithful? It all started when Perry dismissed the Elvis impersonators, the straight-from-the-Champs-Elysées mimes, and the blue- and pink-wigged Candy Land creatures, taking the front of the stage with two acoustic guitarists and a stand-up bassist.
The construct had her playing her karaoke faves (Jay Z’s “Big Pimpin”, Rihanna’s “Only Girl in the World”, Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair”) for something a little more intimate-and-interactive. But what really made it interesting was the way that Perry actually talked to the audience about how she’d spent Monday exploring Vancouver. That included biking the seawall, bowling at a local five-pin alley, and hanging out at the Waldorf Hotel.
From there Perry finished strong. The greatest moment of the night had her hauling a couple-dozen fans on-stage to get down with her for a cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”. A pre-tween got major props at the song’s end, while one lucky teen was hauled back to centre stage to pose with Perry for the world’s most awesome Facebook profile photo. It was a great, wonderfully genuine moment.
After floating the length of the arena on an airborne pink cloud for the otherwise forgettable ballad “Thinking of You”, Perry ended with a series of bangers. As impressive as the sugar-rushed electro-pop of “Hot n Cold” was, it has nothing on the way that the singer magically changed dresses a half-dozen times. And by magically, we’re talking in less than the blink-of-an-eye. David Copperfield would have been impressed.
Predictably, the encore consisted of the number-one smash “California Gurls”. Perry was joined by a chorus of dancing gingerbread men, which, impossibly, did nothing to distract anyone from the fact that she was sporting ass-hugging silver hot pants and an eye-poppingly matching bra, complete with tassels.
“California Gurls” was supposed to have our gurl fire a candy-striped bazooka into the audience, but a malfunction caused her to exclaim, mid-song, “It’s not working”. A phallic-looking machine gun didn’t fare much better, the spurting load it delivered more Randy West than Peter North.
To her credit, Perry didn’t seem upset in the slightest. Through no fault of her own, things weren’t perfect Tuesday, but that was only fitting considering how she went out of her way to show she’s only human.
Jul 21, 2011 at 7:12pm
No pic of the ass hugging silver pants? There is a special place in hell for you Mike Usinger
Jul 21, 2011 at 9:36pm
Don't blame me, blame Rebecca Blissett. She was the one with the camera. However, if it makes you feel any better, the image is permanently seared into my brain.
Jul 22, 2011 at 10:09pm
Don't know from Perry, but kudos for your calling out of Peter North VS Randy West AKA 'Capt. Dribbles'.
The only person sadder was Harry Reems, who twice needed a stunt-wang for the glory shot in scenes he had with Christy Canyon.
Jul 26, 2011 at 11:33am
"It all would have been fine if you weren’t left with the feeling that “Travis” probably pops up in every show, no matter what the city."
I wish I could pop up in every show!!