It’s important to note that I am not the intended audience of a Katy Perry concert. With that being said, there are a lot of people similar to me in the crowd this evening in Manchester. Whilst many may claim that they are here because they’re acting as chaperone to younger family members, I still challenge any of them to say that they didn’t have a good time. Truth be told, it is pretty difficult not to like the thirty-three-year-old Californian; there’s an authenticity to her personality and as she mentions towards the end of the evening, she’s been around long enough now for us all to have a bit of a soft spot for her iconic tunes.
Prior to arriving on stage she tweets, “found my first skin tag today. I think I’m an adult now” and this reveals her down-to-earth, one of us mentality that many find appealing. The opening of the show perhaps contradicts this view, however, as Katy Perry emerges from the heavens astride a huge shining star to the strains of ‘Witness’ before kicking into gear amidst the tumbling dice and fireworks of ‘Roulette’. Latest record Witness may not possess the chart shattering singles of old and the first act, which initially concentrates on this record is the weakest. The production values are insanely outrageous though and there is still a mountain of hits she can fall back on and it is during such moments when the show becomes an explosive success.
Following an impressively swift costume change, we’re treated to the next, possibly best act of the show as the focus shifts to the Teenage Dream/One of the Boys era. We’re treated to rapid renditions of ‘Teenage Dream’, ‘Hot N Cold’ and a truncated version of the brilliant ‘Last Friday Night’ before ending on the iconic ‘California Gurls’ attired in a provocative, electronic brassiere. As with any pop show of this size, the visuals are explosive and Perry’s energy and enthusiasm is infectious and possibly exhausting for the singer, perhaps explaining why she feels the need to put the brakes on before the next barrage of hits. This comes in the form of the dramatic introduction of Left Shark, accompanied by a 2001 style soundtrack. To many, the significance of this character may be lost on them; the aquatic dancer stole the show at Perry’s Superbowl appearance three years ago, but bringing him back provides a pantomime quality to the evening which it doesn’t necessarily require and we don’t hear another song for a good ten minutes as Katy spars and riffs with the cartoon character. The younger fans may enjoy the theatre but we want the hits! We eventually get it in the form of ‘I Kissed a Girl’ which sees Perry emerge suggestively from inside a giant, Rolling Stones style set of lips as a screaming guitar solo erupts on the stage.
The next act doesn’t provide the musical joys of the preceding one, but again we’re left in no doubt about Katy Perry’s commitment and energy. She sprints up and down the long runway repeatedly, engaging with her fans before strapping herself to various aerial contraptions including an orbiting planet which soars dramatically amidst other planetary constellations during the impressive ballad ‘Wide Awake’.
As well as the numerous costume changes, visual delights and abundant energy, Perry engages enthusiastically with her fans providing moments one or two will remember for the rest of their lives; a flossing seven-year-old is invited on to the stage to demonstrate his prowess and a starstruck male fan plays basketball with Katy during the brazen ‘Swish Swish’; ultimately this is what a Katy Perry concert is all about and for the young fans in attendance this evening, they all have a whale of a time. Next time Katy, just consider leaving the shark at home.