Katy Perry - Madison Square Garden - 7/9/14

Categories: Last Night

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All photos Santiago Felipe
Better Than: Every other multimillion-dollar concert I've seen

As someone who suffered through David Bowie's excruciating *Glass Spider* show (when Katy Perry was, er, three years old), I can say with some authority that just because a concert is big and expensive doesn't mean it's good. And as the art of concert-as-spectacle has become both bigger and more refined, over the past few years we've gotten eye-popping (and usually wallet-popping) extravaganzas from Kanye West, the Rolling Stones, Nine Inch Nails, the Knife, U2's 360 and Roger Waters' The Wall, to name just a few.

Strictly as a show, Katy Perry's Prismatic World Tour tops them all.

See also: [SLIDESHOW] Katy Perry at Madison Square Garden

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All photos Santiago Felipe
It's not just the scale, detail and (not least) the humor of the production, although those are mind-blowing enough on their own. She flies over the audience three different times. A giant triangular video screen, as tall as the building I live in and three times as wide, projects eye-popping graphics and videos throughout much of the show. A triangular walkway extends two-thirds of the way across the arena floor, and the lighting rig just as far across the ceiling. There are fireworks, flames, lasers, balloons, confetti, dozens of props and probably 10 costume changes for Perry alone -- and it's often just as clever musically, with smart arrangements, sly references and even an acoustic set that should shut up anyone who thinks she isn't much of a singer.

It's brilliantly, comically, over-the-top: At one point, there were flames, smoke, and guitarists flying high above the stage while sparks shot from their instruments -- all for a two-minute instrumental break during a costume-change.

To create a satisfying, let alone electrifying, two-hours-and-change show of that size from just three albums is no mean feat -- and while the tickets and especially the merch were not cheap (a $35 poster?), it's hard to imagine anyone was not entertained.

After a strapping opening set from Capital Cities, the house lights dimmed at 9:05 p.m. to some truly awesome screams from the crowd, which was (not surprisingly) largely female and young, if not female, *very* young and accompanied by moms. Brightly colored wigs, tutus, and pastels were heavily represented, although the two dudes in bear costumes actually got a shout-out from Katy during the show.

Any attempt to list the show's head-spinning array of looks and sounds would take as long as the show itself. It opened with a large triangular cube rising from beneath the stage -- amid flashing lights, shots of steam, laser stabs, and dancers clad like neon warriors stalking the stage -- which gradually opened to reveal Perry in a neon dress, launching into "Roar."

See also: Katy Perry's Mummified Dancers Are Not Racist

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All photos Santiago Felipe

As the show progressed, there was an Egyptian-themed set visually reminiscent of Earth, Wind & Fire's *All N All* phase and Perry's own "Dark Horse" video that featured her rising from beneath the stage on a mock Trojan horse operated by two dancers, and later dangling 20 feet above the stage from a perilously spinning gyre. It segued visually into a Scooby-Doo-ish mummy-themed treatment of "I Kissed a Girl" -- the song that "put me on the map."

There was a completely over-the-top cat-themed segment, with a barrage of cat videos (and lots of bad puns) and props including giant cat towers, a bowl of milk, a fishbowl and mouse costumes -- all for a big-band arrangement of "Hot N Cold," the most radical reinterpretation of the night, which interpolated Henry Mancini's *Pink Panther* theme. That song wasn't the only musical wink: snippets of Madonna's "Vogue," Cece Peniston's "Finally," and Rob Base and DJ EZ-Rock's "It Takes Two" were worked into the set at various points, and the vocoder breakdown in "International Smile" is so Daft Punk-esque the wink is implicit.

The long, garden-themed acoustic set was performed at the front of the walkway and featured Perry's best vocal performance of the night on "By the Grace of God." At one point she talked about the garden at her home in California, sprinkled some glitter from a watering can into a stage trapdoor, and out emerged Ferras, the first artist on her new Metamorphosis label. (The first flower from her garden -- get it?) He took to the keyboard and they performed their duet from his EP, "Legends Never Die." She then strapped on a sparkly acoustic guitar and accompanied herself solo, unspectacularly but competently, for the first verse of "The One That Got Away" before being joined by the band.

See also: "That Just Feels Dismissive of Real Pain": Why Katy Perry's Mummified Dancers Are Racist


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