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KATY PERRY @ Perth Arena gets 6/10

Katy Perry @ Perth Arena
w/ Starley
Tuesday, July 24, 2018

6/10

You couldn’t hope for a better entrance than Katy Perry’s on Tuesday night. The first of her two Perth Arena shows went off like a firework, and the sci-fi spectacle of Perry riding a spaceship star from on high as her seven-piece band delivered some suitably proggy music and smoke positively billowed onto the stage, was as thrilling as anything Perth has seen this year.

It helped make up for the fact that she owes the mums of Perth a little apology. Arriving nearly half an hour late even after she’d charged the crowd of predominantly mums and preteen daughters $25 for a pair of light up cat ears ($35 for a programme, if you don’t mind), even her ‘scheduled’ 9pm start time seemed a little late considering the audience. Add a half hour of tardiness and there’s only so much enthusiasm a sugar high can muster.

It meant Starley got a decent set, and the afro’d Sydneysider made the most of the big support slot with impressive visuals and a cover of Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car to win over the crowd. She even scored a singalong to hit single Call On Me, describing it as the song that “changed my life”, but most affecting was her announcement, “My name’s Starley and I’m queer,” before Love Is Love. Confessing that she’d just met Perry backstage for the first time, it was a reminder that this was the opening night of Perry’s Australian leg.

The space goddess theme was in full effect for Katy Perry‘s two hour show. After the opening theatrics of Witness, the giant dice to accompany Roulette and impressive puppets of Chained To The Rhythm continued to take on space age proportions. Even her banter about America being “another planet” that’s “off its axis right now” was fun and on theme.

Of particular note was her return from one of many costume changes riding a floating Saturn around the Arena during Wide Awake, and again for Power, which was as empowering as the title suggests, lasers filling the Arena as Perry landed on a rising podium at the front of her long catwalk and donned wings.

Perhaps depending where you sat, the catwalk was a bone of contention because it was hard to know where to look. With the main stage showcasing all sorts of pretty lights, pyrotechnics and the band, and Perry often 30 metres away down the other end, it was a case of fine if you were directly in front, but a sore neck turning back and forth for everyone else.

And while she unleashed some big fun early with the likes of Teenage Dream, Hot N Cold (it was impossible not to think of MasterChef), Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.) and California Gurls, the sound was so loud and Perry’s voice so intense in the mix that there was very little in the way of fun singalongs. There were also plenty of weak moments, with the run of Deja Vu, Tsunami and ET plainly boring.

Then again, we were there for the fireworks. And if there was one unfortunate thing that meant this Perry show fell a little short it was something quite unexpected: for all the aerial prowess of the stage’s moving parts and swings in the sky to prove she’s not afraid of heights on I Kissed A Girl et al, coming just three weeks after P!nk’s genuinely jaw-dropping circus feats in the same space, it fell a little flat. Perry knew it too: “Don’t worry guys I’m not P!nk,” she said at one point. “I’m not as good as that.”

That said, you couldn’t accuse the 33-year old of not giving enough of herself, but there is a difference between crowd interaction and engagement. An impromptu basketball shootout with crowd member “Wade” was fun but hardly a highlight, while a seemingly never ending skit with a person dressed in a shark costume called Left Shark was a total head scratcher. Katy Cat really needs to leave Left Shark in the props room.

“This show is not like all the other shows, and I’m not like all the other pop stars,” Perry declared early on, and her individuality was apparent as a role model for young women on her biggest hits Roar, Part of Me and Firework. Somehow, without losing the spectacular edge that sets her apart, she needs to bring it back to the music fans connected with in the first place.

HARVEY RAE

Photos by Paul Dowd

Katy Perry plays Perth Arena again tonight, Wednesday July 25. Tickets from Ticketek.

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