Thursday, 31 July 2014

Review: Katy Perry - Prismatic World Tour

**  Possible Spoiler Alert  **

It's unusual for me to review a live concert, and hard to do without completely spoiling the plot!  However, given that many of you either won't be able to get to the show, or won't even want to, it seems quite valid.

Firstly, cards on the table.

My name is Shaggi and I'm a Katy Perry fan.

Most of my muso fans mock me, they don't 'get' Katy Perry.  Well, I like to think I'm no music snob, I like good stuff, from any (well ok, 'most') genres, and so should you :-)

What I'm not going to give you, is a bunch of spoiler photos (you can google for those if you want them) nor am I going to give you a blow-by-blow account of the show (you can wait for the DVD).  What I will try to do is give you my impressions of it, good and bad (if I can think of any) and what I took away from the experience 8-)

This isn't the first time I've been to a KP concert.  I saw her back on the Teenage Dreams tour and whilst I didn't publish my thoughts on that, I think enough people have seen the 'Part of Me' movie or various clips on the web, so I will probably draw some parallels to it.

After Icona Pop left the stage (truly awful - in case you were wondering), the lights dimmed and there was barely discernable movement on stage as technicians and people got into place.
The show started with rumbling drums and staccato movements from the dancers with almost strobe-like lighting.  Naturally, I'm a sucker for a good drum sound and this didn't disappoint.  I've no idea if they were 'live' drums, samples, or a backing track, but it really did sound like Thor himself was taking his mighty hammer to task on a helpless drum kit!  The beat eventually evened out  and Katy took to the stage for 'Roar'.  Nice start.

At this stage I realised there was no band on stage.  Roar isn't a particularly band-orientated song, on the record at least.  I'm not saying it isn't musical, but it's not like you can pick out drums, bass, guitar ... no it's pretty much samples and by the time we reached the first chorus I had come to the assumption that rather than go for the Teenage Dreams Tour approach of a 'live band' with some samples and backing tracks - this show wasn't going to feature a live band.

And then ....

The band popped out through trap doors onto the stage!

Very cool, and that happened a lot during the show.  The band would disappear, dancers would disappear, Katy herself would vanish .... only to reappear on an completely different part of the stage.  Clearly, some very clever shenanigans going-on under the stage to make all that happen.   This was the theme to the stage set-up, and whilst I'm aware it's very theatre (Dahling!) that shizzle never gets old IMHO.

Despite the live band, despite the guitar battles (two guitarists flying around the 02 never gets old!) this was much less of a band concert and much more of a KP show.  Take that as you will.   Sometimes the band would completely obscured by pieces of scenery, sometimes they weren't even on stage (but still playing while under it), sometimes they were active parts of the show (tabla solo for example) but most of the time they were purely incidental. As a pop act I'm of the mind that a 'show' is what I want and what I was expecting.  If this were a rock band .... well I might feel a little differently about it.

As a show centered on one person, you notice when she's not there.  It's a complex set-up, some of KP's outfits were truly off-the-scale, and combined with all the dancing and acrobatics it's understandable that she isn't on stage 100% of the time.  She will be somewhere in that wonderland under the stage, either being transported around, or being (re) dressed by an army of wardrobe assistants, or maybe just catching her breath and re-hydrating.

Some of these moments were obvious.  Extended dance sections, mahoosive cartoon Shaggy on the big screen rapping at us, you know the kind of thing.  Always something to stop you from getting bored and I preferred this approach to Teenage Dream Tour (which showed clips from an ongoing 'movie' loosely themed around the show) between songs.  This seemed more fluid and even when KP wasn't actually singing, she would be on stage if she could be - dancing and shape throwing ;-)

High points?

Well, the drum intro was devastating.  The lights 'in' the drum kit where a must have (yes, I've ordered them).  The tabla solo was a nice touch and unexpected.  The old-school stagecraft was very enjoyable.  The use of mechanical trapdoors, wind machines, wires etc was done really well, and made a change from 'how many lasers can we fit on stage' show that some pop artists go for.

But the biggest high point was when Katy stopped and looked directly at myself and my two companions, whilst flying around the arena on a bunch of balloons.  If anything summed up the experience, it was probably that :-D