Monday, June 20, 2011

Katy Perry’s Sparkling garden dreams

Puffy clouds of pink cotton candy. A sparkly dress with whirling peppermint pinwheels. A giant fake pot brownie that induced hallucinations. An Elvis impersonator, a pair of mimes, and seven costume changes within one song.

Welcome to Katy Perry’s visualization of Candy Land come to life on her new California Dreams tour. It’s unremittingly fun — nothing more, nothing less — but it also suggests that the pop star’s live show has finally caught up with her ambitions.

Perry’s sold-out concert at the TD Garden on Saturday was essentially a theater production, sometimes a circus, with Perry as the unsinkable gang leader. Frivolity suits her as snugly as one of her many hip-hugging dresses.
Loosely based on a running video storyline about Perry being transported to a candy-coated wonderland, the show highlighted what she is capable of with the right staging and enough fans to pack an arena. They came for the sing-along (“Hot N Cold,’’ “E.T.,’’ “Teenage Dream’’) but likely left with an appreciation of Perry’s talents as an entertainer.

She is reconfigured “I Kissed a Girl’’ with a vampy jazz intro. Channeling Mae West, she summoned four guys from the audience in performance to give her a peck on the cheek. When they all flashed their abs, she had some advice for her less-chiseled suitor: “Suck it in, baby. You’re about to be on TV.’’
Just like on her albums, the show had its share of filler, and it’s clear that Perry still doesn’t have enough hits to sustain a two-hour spectacle like this.

That explained the extensive interlude of ballads that, while heartfelt, sapped the sass that made the show so amusing earlier in the night. An auditory medley of some of Perry’s favorite songs this year — Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair,’’ Rebecca Black’s “Friday’’ — played especially well to the teen crowd.
Pandering? Sure, but it was a small price to pay for a performance so well paced and upfront about its intentions. Unlike, say, a Lady Gaga performance, where every detail is meant to trigger a specific response, Perry’s show was unabashed in its pursuit of a good time. She gives you little to think about beyond her songs’ fleeting moments of debauchery.

Actual fireworks exploded over the stage during “Firework,’’ a treacly ode to self-empowerment that her fans have obviously taken to heart. Surely, you thought, the show had climaxed, but then Perry returned in a Bruins jersey for an encore of “California Gurls.’’ The woman knows how to go out on top.
With a short but sweet opening set of electro dance tunes, Swedish pop singer Robyn worked hard to win over an audience that had probably never heard of her before. She proved what her fans have been saying for years: Robyn deserves to be much more popular.


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