Unflappable showmanship in Katy Perry’s kitsch-filled musical spectacle | Inquirer Entertainment

Unflappable showmanship in Katy Perry’s kitsch-filled musical spectacle

By: - Reporter
/ 12:02 AM April 09, 2018

Katy Perry (center) performed songs from her latest album. —PHOTOS COURTESY OF OVATION PRODUCTIONS

Katy Perry had been onstage for barely five minutes, and already, red and black confetti were being fired from the perimeter of the SM Mall of Asia Arena floor. At a typical concert, the sight of shiny speckles drifting in the air signals its culmination. But this wasn’t just any show—and Katy doesn’t need a good reason for such frippery, besides the fact that she can.

Last week, Katy performed in Manila as part of her ongoing world tour, “Witness”—also the title of her latest and least successful album to date. But, while she brought no new indisputable hits in her fourth trip to the country, Katy stayed true to form, delivering a rambunctious spectacle filled with kitsch and oddities, which were amusing and bemusing all at once.


In “Roulette,” Katy propped herself up on a giant dice, whose pips doubled as tunnels from which dancers emerged like worms in an apple.


Flamingo puppets lumbered and flapped about the stage during “Hot N Cold,” which had Katy taking off her white blazer to reveal a black tank top slapped with an LED mesh that displayed the words “hot,” “cold” and “sex.”

The dancer dubbed “Left Shark,” the unexpected scene-stealer in the American singer-songwriter’s 2015 Super Bowl halftime gig, made an appearance in “California Gurls” and jokingly spanked Katy’s butt. Men on stilts dressed as mutant insects squared off before a Venus flytrap devoured Katy, at this point dressed in a polka dot latex costume.

And in the next number, “Bon Appétit,” she was served on a leaf, before being seasoned with glitter from oversized salt and pepper shakers.

Backing her was a bevy of athletic and shapely dancers, who had as many outfit changes as the night’s star: They wore colorful, geometric space-inspired suits; they sported television helmets; one minute they were paper dolls, and in the next, cheerleaders toting inflatable basketballs.

Also at Katy’s disposal were specialty acts that either spiced up the production or served as fillers in the lulls between segments. Midway through the show, a performer put on a display of upper body strength, pulling off handstands and single-handed planches, like a gymnast would on a pommel horse. And in “Tsunami,” a dancer slithered, contorted and wrapped his body around a pole fashioned after a rose.

Katy isn’t the best of dancers—at times, it seemed like she was merely going through the motions. And though her vocals can be punchy, it wavered every so often. But she was, nonetheless, comfortable and an unflappable showman.


She ran from the main platform to the B-stage and back, as if a kid squealing while charging through the gates of an amusement park. She did random splits, lied face down, hugged the stage, and did a little jig on one foot, her free leg held up.

Amid the sensory bedlam were pockets of relative quiet and intimacy, like her rendition of “Into Me You See” and “Wide Awake,” which prompted the audience to light up their phones, as Katy sang and strummed on a guitar.

At times, it seemed like she was merely going through the motions.

She also made sure to interact with the fans, even going as far as inviting a lucky fan—a toga-wearing college student about to graduate—to join her onstage. The guy promptly lost it, before finally taking selfies with Katy onstage.

Much of the concert’s 20-song repertoire was, of course, centered on Katy’s new material from “Witness.” And while such tracks as the disco-flavored “Déjà Vu” and the retro-sounding, midtempo bop, “Chained to the Rhythm,” were catchy and well-crafted, it was only the diehards who really got into them.

Fortunately, Katy has an impressive catalogue and possesses as many hits as she had stage props. So, when she revisited “I Kissed a Girl,” “Teenage Dream” and “Roar,” the crowd of mostly tween girls erupted into screams and sang every word with their idol.

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“Firework” was an apt song to end the concert with—it’s big and anthemic, and one that she could belt out while fireworks burst behind her. Needless to say, it made the giddy crowd “roar” with glee.


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