Katy Perry September 26, MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Attending a Katy Perry concert is like being at a hyperactive 13-year-old girl’s birthday party. Although the pop singer has been known for occasional risqué antics, the Vegas stop on her Prismatic tour was entirely appropriate for the many tweens in the audience—possibly a little too appropriate, given how tiresome the cutesy stage elements and sappy banter became over the course of more than two hours. The KatyCats in the audience hung on every word from their benefactor, and she in turn acted like the leader of a really big end-of-summer-camp show, thanking them for their positive energy, taking selfies with them and spending way too much time on a bit in which she gave a couple of fans (ages 17 and 6) a pizza (from Metro Pizza!).
As for the music, the set was packed with Perry’s shouty, overly insistent pop hits, and she seemed to be actually singing them a good two-thirds of the time. But the set design, costumes and choreography were so overwhelming that they often left the music behind, making the Katy Perry concert a paradoxically poor showcase for Katy Perry’s music. Like an explosion of Lisa Frank stickers, recurring motifs in Perry’s set pieces included butterflies, smiley faces, kitty cats, glitter, cake, flowers and makeup (a lipstick-shaped balloon was prominently branded with the logo for tour sponsor Cover Girl).
Although Perry celebrated a literal birthday during “Birthday” (once again plucking an eager fan from the crowd), the costumes and videos often made for poor fits with the songs (including “I Kissed a Girl,” complete with large-breasted, big-bootied mummies, in the Egyptian-themed portion of the show was just one such baffling moment). The prevailing musical strategy seemed to be “louder and more bombastic,” although Perry slowed down a bit for sweet acoustic renditions of “By the Grace of God” and “The One That Got Away,” and the biggest musical makeover came in an ill-advised cabaret-jazz version of “Hot N Cold.” It was a rare bid for maturity in a show that was otherwise so sugary sweet that it eventually turned rancid.