Katy Perry At Madison Square Garden, Wednesday, July 9th, 2014, Reviewed
Katy Perry came out of the Christian Contemporary Music ghetto to the tween girl explosion of 2008, where she played the brash older sister, to Taylor Swift’s sweet youngest sister and Lady Gaga’s weirdo middle sister and between the three of them they ruled the world of pop, reaching an apex in 2011, Fearless, Born This Way, and Teenage Dreams, ruling the charts for an entire year with Teenage Dreams on top.
Katy and uber-producer Dr. Luke simply ruled and three years later the Katy Perry reign continued. And while sure, it wasn’t much, a mix of fair pop hits and iffy dance slams while Katy moved away from her Dorothy in Candyland 2011 persona to still embrace her inner 13 year old but through the eyes of a blasé 29 year old writing a self-help manual, it pleased those it was meant to please.
So at Madison Square Garden in the middle of a “my managers are gonna work me till I drop” tour, did any of it work? As music, no not really. I am not a huge fan of Katy, I like some of her pop strokes, “Hot N Cold”, “I Kissed A Girl”, “Last Friday Night” but the power ballads and the dance tracks, not so much. But as a spectacle for tweens, it worked fine. The 3D glasses were fun, the PRISM concept slight but not serious so who cares, the entire Kitty Cats stuff a dumbing down of Gag’s Little Monsters, and the sight of Katy in a spandex pussy cat outfit was appealing enough.
The entire spectacle was appealing enough, the audience teenage girls in Daisy Dukes and tank tops, blowing gum and talking girl power amuses and appeals to me and while we know Katy is not the person we are seeing on stage, she is a very arrogant, ill mannered pop diva, it doesn’t matter because she can play the role fine. After a not bad opening of “Roar”, a song I preferred on stage than the recorded take, followed as always by fair takes on “Part Of Me” and “Wide Awake” before a bit of rabble rousing, another song and a loooong break where the stage was changed from a Prism to an Egyptian motif, all the better to bat Katy’s eyelashes and thrown in somewhat epic “E. T.’ and “Dark Horse” and the minor league “Legendary Lovers” before she stripped the stage bare for “I Kissed A Girl” which never seems able to capture the feigned sauciness of the first kiss. And that’s the first half hour.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the night was the slow fuse blues “Hot N Cold”, and the second was a momentum killing huge break with Snoop’s “Gin And Juice” playing behind a silly cat video. The iffy (though again, better live than on record) “International Smile” was mixed with “Vogue” and so far nothing great but it could be worse but then we get the ballad portion and this is pretty dire stuff. An overblown “By The Grace Of God” –in which Katy who, really, if marrying Russell Brand isn’t asking for trouble, what on earth is?, survives her marriage though not without forcing us to wallow in her resolve to survive. Much worse, a new song with the first signing to her label Metamorphis, Ferras, the painful power ballad “Legends Never Die”. Ferras had opened the evening with a non-descript set and was followed by disco band Capital Cities who had the intelligence to perform their one hit “Safe And Sound”, twice.
But back in the acoustic segment, I hit the road after “The One That Got Away”, the third concert in four days, plus my job, exhaustion had kicked in, though I am seriously considering going to finish it off on July 25th at Barclay Center: I missed “California Gurl” and “Teenage Dream “ and “Last Friday Night”. So I guess I musn’t have hated it, right?