Imagine if the surroundings in “The Wizard of Oz”’s Munchkin Land fused with the backdrop of “Alice in Wonderland” and you might have the Katy Perry “Witness” tour.
It’s a delightful spectacle to behold – from the five-piece band dressed in cupcake-frosting pink to the see-sawing lighted cubes to the massive eye-shaped video screen blasting gorgeous images of Patrick Nagel-inspired art and swirly imagery.
Of course, such a well-designed presentation doesn’t leave a fraction of space for spontaneity (save for a well-intentioned, but momentum-killing phone call to Perry’s mom, Mary). But when every shoulder shrug and crossed leg is delivered with such polished precision, you really can’t help but fall into this highly stylized production.
Still, despite the award-worthy production, Perry’s Tuesday night performance at Philips Arena felt a bit sluggish at times. Perhaps it was the lengthy wait between openers Purity Ring and Perry’s arrival on a shooting star for the opening “Witness” (the nearly sold-out crowd was dotted with many young Katy Kats in glowing ears no doubt getting sleepy)? Or could there have been so much “stuff” to gawk at that it became tiresome by the time a stilt-walking insect arrived to creepily circle Perry during “E.T.”?
But there is no faulting the crop-haired star, who proved to be a game participant throughout the show and was airborne as frequently as a Delta flight attendant.
Her numerous costume changes ranged from gilded armor that looked like a deconstructed C-3PO to a simple black and white pantsuit to a Cher-influenced silver sparkly wig and matching outfit.
Her dancers donned TV sets as headwear as Perry twirled down the tear-shaped catwalk to “Chained to the Rhythm,” her subtle message on display as she sang about “living our lives through a lens” (while, of course, half of the audience was doing exactly that on their phones).
She chirped about her love of playing in Atlanta and, after a spunky “California Gurls,” which included an appearance by the infamous Left Shark, melted into a full split onstage before pretending to struggle getting up.
“I’m 33. I’m not as agile anymore,” she said, before busting into a headstand and grinning. “Just kidding.”
The highlights of Perry’s set came with her suite of “oldies,” which included the swoony “Teenage Dream,” a frothy “Hot N Cold” (which she introduced with a flashing sigh across her bosom) and a pink flamingo-filled “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.).” And even an unwelcome EDM effect on “I Kissed a Girl” couldn’t curtail the song’s bounce; as well, the massive floating lips would have given Mick Jagger mouth envy.
The slog came with the songs from “Witness.” As much as Perry wants to showcase a current album and a tweaked sound, “Déjà Vu,” “Tsunami” and, especially, the tuneless thumping of “Bon Appetit,” simply aren’t as dynamic as her earlier work – and not even jumbo salt and pepper shakers can make them memorable (but kudos for the quick detour into Janet Jackson’s “What Have You Done for Me Lately”).
Meanwhile, Perry’s pretty, simple rendition of “Wide Awake,” performed with her acoustic guitar, was a lovely contrast to the rest of the evening.
Still, even if the “concert” felt inconsistent musically, the “show” was spectacular.