If you're the type of person who looks at artists like Katy Perry and you're baffled as to why she has such a rabid fan base, why she has such a rising star power, and why she sells as many albums and tickets as she does; then all you need to do is catch her perform live. Last night at Toyota Center, Perry quickly proved why she's such a big deal with a large scale production, moving set pieces, and backup dancers. In a little over an hour and a half, it was obvious why Toyota Center was so loud, it was filled with people who already knew what kind of show Perry brings to each date she plays.
While the show started about 45 minutes later than posted, things began with a pretty stellar support set from Carly Rae Jepsen. Jepsen wasted no time getting going and seemed to really be at home in front of the large audience. Her set included "Run Away With Me," "Emotion," "Gimme Love," "Boy Problems," and her hit track "Call Me Maybe," that ironically didn't close out her performance.
Other tracks from Jepsen included "I Didn't Just Come Here To Dance," "Let's Get Lost" and the closing track of the night, "I Really Like You." While her set was only about 30 minutes long, Jepsen had no problem cramming in plenty of songs and energy to warm the crowd up for Perry.
Of course, there was a 45 minute change over that seemed to take a really long time. This is pretty common for such productions on this level though. Once the lights dropped and Perry began with this spacey film that filled the large eye-shaped screen behind the main stage, it was definitely worth the wait. The retina part of the eye opened for Perry to come out on a giant star that hovered above the stage while performing "Witness."
She kept the energy high on the following track "Roulette," where giant dice flanked the stage between band members and back up dancers. As confetti showered the audience, Perry performed like she was set to conquer the world through dance, visually stunning set pieces and video production. After making use of the entire catwalk to a smaller stage set at about half of the floor, Perry followed by eight backup dancers went directly into "Dark Horse," while the arena full of lit up kitty ear headbands screamed with pure enjoyment. Giant puppeteered men with televisions on their head came from backstage while dancers wearing the same headpieces danced alongside Perry.
After a brief costume change, Perry appeared in a white and black squared flamenco suit while backup dancers appeared in pink, blue, and yellow outfits for Perry to sing her hit track "Teenage Dream." While giant flamingos were dancing around stage. Perry and her dancers even soared about 40 feet above the stage on a giant yellow beam while she sang the entire time as if nothing were occurring. When the track ended, Perry took off her suit coat to reveal a light up LED top that said Hot and Cold, before playing the track "Hot N Cold," followed by the song "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)."
When the time came for Perry to sing hit song "California Gurls," she and her backup dancers performed much of the track atop multicolored boxes that changed color throughout the entirety of the song. While the part sung by Snoop Dogg played over the speakers, the Left Shark made an appearance and danced alongside Perry to the closing half of the track. For her performance that included a mash up of "Bon appetit" and a cover of the Janet Jackson song "What Have You Done For Me Lately," Perry went dark with set pieces of glowing roses and giant Venus flytraps.
At one point Perry used a giant pink phone to call her mom who said things about Houston like "Houston is the second fastest growing city in the nation," and "you're a foreigner if you drink tea without ice."
There was also a moment when Perry called out a child to come up on stage and make a wish on a shooting star that appeared when she traveled above the audience on a Saturn shaped planet while performing the track "Thinking of You." The ten year old named Maria wished "to have a great year." before Perry wished her well and began her next song in the crowd. Touching fans and shaking hands, Perry then sang "Power" which reignited the crowd.
After introducing the band, Perry went on to change again before dropping the track "Part of Me." When the lights went dark and Perry reappeared, the stage had a giant basketball hoop for Perry to perform atop on the track "Swish Swish." Halfway through, she asked the audience for a dad. "I need a dad, or maybe a drunk dad," before selecting an older man to play basketball with her with these enormous sized balls. After a little L.A. versus Houston banter, the dad won two to zero, and Perry finished the track with ease.
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Perry would go on to close out the set with a performance of the song "Roar," in which a giant lion's head came from backstage to hover above her. After some darkness, Perry performed the encore, singing "Firework" from inside a giant inflatable hand from the center of the small stage at the end of the catwalk.
The entire night was full of high end production. In a room full of preteens, teens, and parents or grandparents of preteens as well as ardent fans, Katy Perry proved why she's such a big deal. In a time when music critics say that Perry dropped the ball with her last album Witness, no one seemed to think that among the near sold out crowd here in Houston.