Katy Perry isn’t the fresh-faced up-and-comer she was when her first album One of the Boys debuted in 2008, but she is now a seasoned pop veteran who hasn’t slowed down a bit. Despite being subjected to the grueling schedule of an international pop star for the last nine years, Katy Perry’s live energy is unrivaled. It wouldn’t surprise or disappoint me to see such a long-lived superstar phoning it in on a Tuesday night, non-sellout show, but the California Girl turned up the heat on a cold and windy night in Georgia.
After opener Purity Ring played a bass-heavy set that kept the concert goers at the Philips Arena bobbing their heads, the stage crew began setting up for Katy Perry, revealing the first of many unexpected surprises: a live band. As the full arsenal of hot pink instruments filled up the stage, the drum kit looked particularly impressive, foreshadowing the legendary drummer that would soon grace the throne. A massive eyeball filled the eye-shaped LED screen and scanned the crowd, presumably searching for the most die-hard Katy Cats.
A cinematic, deep-space video led into her opening song “Witness," which is fresh off of her newest album of the same name. Katy Perry burst onto the stage with electricity as a plethora of props rotated on and off stage to set the scene for whatever song she was performing. There were massive flamingos during “California Girls”, giants with TVs for heads for “Chained to the Rhythm” and 10-foot tall roses for a number of songs at the end of the set that included a beautiful rendition of “Wide Awake.” The stage design was well-thought out and worked seamlessly with the performers, creating a breathtaking atmosphere in the arena.
Speaking of seamless, the musicians behind Katy Perry’s live show were impeccable. Donning hot pink and channeling their inner Ziggy Stardust, the band was a visual representation of the groovy, 80s-inspired sound that coated each track. They breathed new life into Katy Perry’s classic hits, with many songs changing genres entirely. “I Kissed a Girl” became a power-chord heavy rock jam and songs like “California Girls” brought the funk in a powerful way.
The heart of this band and the driver of the show was the drummer, Tony Royster Jr. To many drummers, Tony is the pinnacle of drum skill. While others like Neil Peart of Rush have received more recognition by being members of famous bands, Royster has cut his teeth touring with some of the biggest names in music from Jay-Z to AWOLNATION. He is currently touring with Katy Perry, and his presence is paramount to a successful show. His fills, timing, and grooves made every song more exciting and allowed the show to run smoothly.
The immaculate stage design, talented musicians, and carefully choreographed dance moves were all impressive on their own, but Katy Perry herself was relentless in her pursuit of a flawless show. From dancing her little, California heart out to flying around the arena on her own personal planet, she was an ever-energetic presence that showed no signs of slowing down.
As a proponent of smaller shows with smaller artists, I admit I was a bit skeptical of the authenticity in Katy Perry's performances, but I came away with a deep respect for the passion and effort that she puts into her live shows. She never gave less than 110% in her performance, as she sprinted, jumped, and danced around the massive, colorful stage.
Katy Perry's genuine appreciation for her fans was apparent during each song, especially when she involved the fans in the show, at one point getting a 13-year-old boy on stage to make a wish on her shooting star (He wished for “a whole lot of world peace”), and at another point grabbing the daddest dad in the building (complete with a pair of fresh New Balance Dad Shoe II’s) for a best-of-three basketball shoot-out in the middle of her recent hit “Swish Swish.”
Whether it was the diverse crowd of young, old, cis, trans, gay and straight that was in attendance, the pro-trans PSA played prior to Katy’s set, or the way that she took every opportunity to thank everyone in the building for allowing her to bring them joy, there was something special about that Katy Perry show. There were no fake fans, no fake smiles and no fake talent. From the fans to the performers, everyone witnessed a genuine outpouring of love and support. I never thought I’d say this, but Katy Perry is one of my top 10, must-see shows. Don’t miss out.
For information and tickets for Katy Perry’s current tour, click here.
Photos by Alexandra Scuffle for Bullet Music