Fireworks, interplanetary travel, basketball swishes and plenty of California Girls, Katy Perry must be in town. Last Friday night (August 17) Perry wrapped up the Australian leg of her Witness the Tour with the final of four Sydney concerts and to say she went out with a bang is seriously underselling the experience.
As Perry herself informed the crowd, at her shows you get all the hits and she certainly delivered, shooting through all her greatest hits as well as plenty of new tracks from her current album, Witness. However, given the number of songs she performed and the intermittent banter throughout the evening, she kept an extremely tight set performing for just over two hours (though she was advertised as only on for 90 mins) and sparing no bell or whistle.
That is part of the absolute enjoyment you get from a Katy Perry concert. I have to admit that I wasn’t really sure what I was exactly in for when heading off. Yes I like a number of her songs and had seen her Super Bowl performance, but she was not necessarily on my list of must-see acts passing through Australia this year. However, when I was offered a really cheap ticket, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to check her out, knowing I’d have a good time but not expecting much. Never have I been so pleased to be wrong. From the fantastic support set from DJ Zedd which had the entire Qudos Bank Arena up singing and dancing (not an easy feat for a support act) to the celebratory tone of her anthem “Firework” for the finale the evening was one big party and trip down memory lane with some of your closest friends.
Showmanship is something you can never accuse Perry for lacking and it was on full display during Witness the Tour. Though the set pieces themselves were limited yet totally functional and thematic (generally one structural set with a few offshoots around the stage), the costumes and performances were the stars. With more than half a dozen costume changes, they ran the gamut from very simple to full on, glittering disco ball-esque pieces. Major kudos to her dancers as well which included tumblers, pole dancers, stilt walkers, and puppeteers.
Stand out performances were definitely some of her older tracks: “Teenage Dream” (though it really just sounds weird hearing the original following the enormous popularity of Darren Criss’ Glee cover), “Roar”, the beautiful acoustic version of “Wide Awake”, the apt “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)”, “Firework” and the always fun “I Kissed A Girl” complete with enormous lips that filled the stage. While the roar from the crowd during those hits easily raised the roof on the arena, a number of songs from the current album were also given the chance to shine. “Swish Swish”, “Bon Appetit” and “Roulette” were particularly fun and high energy, while “Power” was just the latest in a long line of girl power anthems that Perry is known for and resonates with many fans as evidenced with the crowd, aged from young tweens through to the mature woman, belting out each hit that was “their song”.
That was truly one of the best things about the concert, the wide variety of people and ages in attendance. There were friends, partners, mothers and daughters, fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, fathers and sons, families. I saw people from around 4-5 years old through to a really cute older couple that looked to be in their late 60s and there was definitely something for everyone in the show. This was never more evident than when Perry brings someone from the audience onto the stage to make a wish on the shooting star. At Friday’s gig, an 11 year old was chosen (and kudos to Perry for choosing someone who was right at the back of the first elevation and not someone right at the front) and her wish? For 50 cats! Yep out of everything she could have wished for, she just wanted 50 cats. Well I suppose Perry’s fans are known as Katy Kats, so again, fitting.
While Perry, her dancers and band were superb throughout and kept the energy blasting from the stage, there did seem to be a slump in the audience’s stamina in the second half of the set. It may have been that the littlies were wilting at 10.30pm on a Friday night after a full week of school and then the excitement of the concert or what, but the vibe from the audience was a bit flat for a while. It was disappointing seeing Perry et al giving their all on stage and not getting back what they deserved. However, luckily this didn’t last long and the energy picked up again well before “Roar”, the last song in her set. It was definitely back for the encore with the entire arena on its feet, belting out the final songs.
The only dampener on the evening was that the run time did not correspond with that advertised. It was billed as starting at 7.30pm with Zedd and Perry finishing at 10.30pm. Zedd didn’t actually take to the stage till after 8pm and Perry’s set finished at about 11.15pm. Given the number of little people in the audience and those rushing out to Olympic Park straight from work, a more accurate run time would have made life that little bit easier.
Katy Perry’s Witness the Tour plays in Auckland, New Zealand tonight and tomorrow night.
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