If Katy Perry’s job as a pop star ended up not working out for her, she could have a very successful career as a burlesque performer. Luckily for her (and for us), Perry is one of the most successful pop acts out there at the moment — her Grammy-nominated, chart-topping Teenage Dream has spawned four (soon to be five?) #1 singles, and all three nights of her California Dreams tour at LA’s Nokia Theatre were sold out. We were there last night at the show that can best be described as a burlesque act where no tassels were twirled, but the tease, entendre and naughty fun were all there.
Outside of the venue was a trip to Candyland even before the show started – Gummie Bears, gingerbread men and ladies in cupcake dresses stood outside, posing with fans. (Yes, I got my picture taken with a gingerbread man. When will I get the opportunity ever again?)
After a rousing set (filled mostly by female-led pop songs) by DJ Skeet Skeet to get the room’s energy up, Robyn came out, wearing an outfit that would not look out of place on neither Salt nor Pepa back in the early 90s. Her stage set-up was minimal, but her non-stop energy can’t be topped. The bulk of the audience was clearly there for Katy and Katy only, as Robyn didn’t get anywhere near the cheers we think she deserves, but we hope after powering out jam after jam (including “Never Will Be Mine” with a cameo by Rye Rye), she made some new fans in the crowd.
Oh, and the crowd – half the experience of going to the California Dreams tour was watching the people. There were blue wigs, pink wigs (but many more blue wigs), cat ears, cat tails, tutus, sparkles, and more cotton candy than you can imagine. (The fluffy pink candy was sold on glowing rainbow sticks, so when you were done with your treat, you had a bright wand to wave all night. Neat!)
Before Katy emerged (at 9:30 on the dot – how punctual!), we were treated to one of the most adorable tour openers at least I’ve ever seen. [Spoiler alert!] Starting off in black and white, Katy works for a horrible butcher, played by somebody who looks suspiciously like James Gandolfini ( although I’m not entirely convinced it wasn’t Tony Soprano himself Thanks to a commenter who pointed out it was comedic actor Will Sasso!), who makes her chop meat all day. But Katy is in love with the beautiful baker’s boy and desires cupcakes and cookies and all things sweet. When her pet Kitty Purry runs away to a magical land called Candyfornia, Katy goes after her. Basically, it was a cross between The Wizard of Oz, Alice In Wonderland and Willy Wonka. (Take a peek here to get a taste of it.)
As for the woman of the hour, she performed for two hours straight and absolutely killed it. She sounded phenomenal all night, particularly when she got to show off how glorious her vocal chops really are on ballads “Not Like The Movies” and “Thinking Of You”, which she played acoustically on guitar while riding atop a candy cotton cloud high above the audience.
We could have lived without a lounge cover version of “I Kissed A Girl” (similar to the one she performed for MTV Acoustic), but thankfully she sped it up for the second half of the song. Her “Katyoke” segment in the middle, where she performed covers of songs ranging from “Big Pimpin” to “Whip My Hair” also received a nice surprise when her new buddy Rebecca Black came out to sing “Friday” with her.
Her incredible team of dancers kept the party going when Katy went to change costumes, which was basically every two songs or so – or, in the case of “Hot N Cold”, the singer magically changed outfits so many times, we lost count. The myriad of tongue-in-cheek costumes – the Hershey’s Kisses bra, a giant peacock tail, the cocktail dress made of swirling peppermints – are all deserving of some award to whoever designed these delicious get-ups.
Perry, speaking to her audience with a Paris Hilton-esque coo, toed the line between innocent sweet pea and doe-eyed vamp all night long. And she certainly wasn’t afraid of delivering some less-than-kid-friendly material over the course of the evening: the F-word remained in the chorus of “Circle The Drain”; there was many mentions of her sexiness; she called a woman in a slot machine costume a slut; and she instructed an attractive Italian dude in the audience to come on stage, but leave behind his T-shirt. (The man obliged.) Oh, and at one point, Katy takes a bite out of a giant brownie and begins to hallucinate.
It was a bit eye-raising to discover how PG-13 Katy’s live show is when we’re pretty sure she’s aware how many of her fans are under 13 years of age – but sometimes massive amounts of candy isn’t the best for you either, and you eat it up regardless. It’s best to just let parents patrol how much suggestion their kids can take, and let Katy do what she really does best – entertain a crowd.