When did Katy Perry become so fucking amazing? I liked "One Of The Boys" but apart from the fabulous singles it wasn't particularly memorable. And then out of nowhere, she delivers one of the best pop albums in recent memory - complete with brilliant videos and an iconic image transformation. In the process she made chart history by scoring four consecutive #1 hits in America (with a possible fifth on the way) and lifted herself above Britney and Xtina on the pop hierarchy. I was interested to see how the new and improved Katy Perry would come off live and it was a very pleasant surprise. Gone is the faux angst that tinged her first Australian tour. The diva now only has one thing on her mind and that's FUN. Bright colours, cute gimmicks and upbeat pop anthems reigned supreme at last night's California Dreams show. It was a bit clumsy and often came off as a big budget Rock Eisteddfod entry but it ranks a close second behind Ke$ha as my favourite concert of 2011.
Pop's new princess began the show with a black and white video montage, which finds Katy cast as an unwilling and incompetent apprentice butcher who is bullied by her boss and dreams of working with baked goods. I'm not making this up! She then gets a magical cupcake from a super hot guy at her local bakery, goes to bed and falls into an Alice In Wonderland-esque alternate reality. She then sets out on a journey to find her missing cat. The storyline isn't that dissimilar to the narrative that ran through Gaga's Monster's Ball but the tone is completely different. While Mother Monster strives to be dark and different, Katy's world looks like Hello Kitty threw up all over it. The emphasis is on cute and kitsch but it works - largely due to the superstar's doll-like beauty and charm. She kicked off the show proper with "Teenage Dream" and the undeniable anthem sounded a lot better live than I expected. After seeing some of her recent TV performances, I was a bit worried about her voice but she was in fine form last night. Next was "Hummingbird Heartbeat" followed by one of my faves from her debut "Waking Up In Vegas".
The next segment was probably the controversial but arguably the most entertaining. Katy is duped into eating a "magical brownie" - ie. the bitch is stoned off her tits - and starts hallucinating. She then breaks into "Ur So Gay" before attaching some feathers to her butt to sing "Peacock". I still lapprove of that ridiculous trash and would love for it to be single 7 or 8 from "Teenage Dream". I'm not being facetious. She could easily release that many tracks from the album. And I'm sure they would all be hits. The 26-year-old moved on to "I Kissed A Girl" after that and channelled her inner 1950s bombshell in a gorgeous gown. She is so pretty up close. It's breathtaking. I'm not really sure about the jazz-tastic performance of her breakthrough hit though but I loved hearing "Circle The Drain" live. That is probably my least favourite song from "Teenage Dream" but it's a link to the old Katy and she rocked it. Next was "ET" - complete with a straight jacket dance routine she stole from Kylie circa 1997 - but I am obsessed with the song and loved every second of it.
It was finally time to move away from the hits and sing a couple of "Teenage Dream" album tracks. I always considered "Who Am I Living For?" a bit of a stinker but I have a whole new appreciation for it now. The same goes for "Pearl" - which was partly-performed sitting on two acrobats, hovering over the stage. It was exquisite. Just as pretty was "Not Like The Movies". This needs to be a future single if they are too stupid to go with the hit-in-waiting "The One That Got Away". The depth of good material on "Teenage Dream" is unbelievable but a ballad would be a nice change of pace. Speaking of change-ups, Katy's already famous karaoke segment was a blast. She pretended to take requests (but sang the same old songs as every other stop on the tour) and then promised to kiss an audience member if they knew all four. For the record Ms Perry belted out Rihanna's "Only Girl In The World", Jay Z's "Big Pimpin'", Rebecca Black's "Friday" - AMAZING! - and Willow Smith's "Whip My Hair". After that she was carried into the audience to pash a crying and shaking teenage girl. Katy is so down with the gays!
The adorable diva then dedicated "Thinking Of You" to Australia and said she didn't think she would be playing a venue like the Entertainment Centre so soon. I'm not surprised. I remember seeing her at the Enmore theatre in 2009 and all she had on stage with her was a band and microphone. How times have changed! "Hot N Cold" was another flashback to the old Katy and it brought everyone to their feet. I think I saw her magical dress changing routine on Australia's Got Talent years ago but it was still a lot of fun. Next up was single number five "Last Friday Night (TGIF)", which has been on high rotation on my iPod since the album was released in 2010. With a decent video and I remix, I can see this becoming another chart topper.
The night's most unexpected moment was a cover of Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody". It was so much fun. I loved her take on Nippy's classic and she earned extra points for dragging a bunch of hyperventilating teenagers on stage to dance with her. Katy closed the show with an impeccable performance of "Firework", a song that will go down as one of the greatest of the early 21st century. She's had trouble hitting the high notes in several TV performances but this was brilliant. As was the conclusion to the story, which finds Katy falling in love with the baker boy and returning to stage in a cupcake dress to sing "California Gurls" as an encore. Sloppy? A little. Cheesy? Very. Contrived? Somewhat. Enjoyable? Always.