Katy Perry brought her sugarcoated psychedelic dreamland to New Jersey last night, using her California Dreams tour to tell the story of a young lady who follows her feline companion Kitty Purry into a circuitous Candy Land-esque setting filled with hallucination-inducing brownies, a slutty slot machine (ha?) and a cavalcade of Top 10 hits.
Say what you will about Katy Perry—sure, she has a weak singing voice and her songs are mostly devoid of substance—but as a courier of frothy delights and eye-catching effulgence, she’s become one of today’s most-satisfying pop stars.
Her stage show—which boasted airborne mimes, floating cotton candy clouds and a gingerbread man kick-line—was a visual feast that brought to mind a tweenage version of Cirque du Soleil. And make no mistake: this stage show was a dream constructed for, and occupied almost exclusively by, teens. I doubt more than ten percent of the crowd was over twenty, and most of those adults were chaperoning fist-pumping teens in blue wigs and candy-button dresses.
Nevertheless, the saccharine spectacle—not to mention the fact that Perry has 8 to 10 truly durable radio hits—was so flawlessly synchronized and aurally enveloping that everyone in the enormous Newark arena was obviously having a blast (speaking of ‘blast,’ Perry thankfully did not spray anything from her bosom). It was one of the rare concerts by a radio hitmaker that was easily worth the not-inconsiderable price tag.
The only drawback was that Lady Katy doesn’t quite have enough substantial material to fill a two-hour set (yet). Certain songs (“Not Like the Movies,” “Pearl”) are always going to sound half-baked no matter how “special” that brownie tastes. On the plus side, her oddly eclectic collection of covers—Rebecca Black, Jay-Z, Whitney Houston, Willow Smith and Rihanna—was a welcome, albeit pitchy, curiosity.
As for opening performer Robyn, Sweden’s primary dance-pop export/expert delivered an incredible and under-appreciated set. In spite of her valiant energy, charmingly retro moves and flawless singing, the teenage crowd was mostly indifferent.
But that certainly has more to do with familiarly than any value judgment: As two of few concertgoers actively dancing for Robyn, my friend and I overhead several comments to the effect of, “Hey, those guys seem to know who she is!” Well, someone in the pit had to represent for Stockholm’s indestructible Fembot.
Readers, have you seen Katy on tour yet? Or are you planning to? And if you do go, will you be there mostly in support of Katy or Robyn?