Dif­fer­ent kind of ‘Teenage Dream’

Katy Perry ditches edgy as­pi­ra­tions at Gar­den

Boston Herald - - THE EDGE - By BRETT MILANO

Re­mem­ber Katy Perry just a few months ago, when she was reach­ing for an edgier and more grown-up im­age? That sure didn’t last long. Judg­ing from last night’s first of two TD Gar­den shows, she’s found her true call­ing as the queen of pre-teen pop. The crowd last night (two-thirds full at most) was over­whelm­ingly grade-school­ers and their par­ents, and the show was clearly pitched to that au­di­ence: We’re talk­ing about a Pac-Man pro­duc­tion num­ber straight out of the Ice Ca­pades. And an on­stage phone call to Perry’s mom, who re­minded the crowd that there used to be a choco­late fac­tory in Bos­ton. And an in­spi­ra­tional mo­ment where she pulled an 11-year-old fan out of the au­di­ence, asked him to make a wish, and led ap­plause when he wished for world peace. And a mo­ment where she in­vited an older male fan up, and chal­lenged him to a whole­some round of gi­ant bas­ket­ball. At one point she even asked how many in the au­di­ence had just got­ten their first phone.

There was no short­age of props and dig­i­tal daz­zle, even if it didn’t nec­es­sar­ily suit the song: The open­ing “Wit­ness” was about lone­li­ness and need­ing a friend — not the kind of lyric you usu­ally sing while de­scend­ing to the stage in a minia­ture space­ship. The pro­jec­tions and back­drops got artsy at times — with quite a few gi­ant eye­balls — but never too provoca­tive; it was more like a sur­real Satur­day-morn­ing car­toon. And when she re­lated to the au­di­ence, Perry usu­ally came across as a quirky but re­as­sur­ing older sis­ter.

That also meant that sex and pol­i­tics were out: When she did “Chained to the Rhythm,” it com­pletely lost the po­lit­i­cal con­text it had at the Gram­mys last spring. When she went for the big up­lift at the end of the show (with “Roar” and “Power”) she re­minded her fans that “you have the power,” but stopped short of say­ing which power that was. Even her naughty early hit “I Kissed a Girl” was de-sex­i­fied, as she was hoisted into a pair of gi­ant car­toon lips — one of the show’s many aerial mo­ments. And yes, she did seem to be singing live at least half of the time, less so in the dance-heavy num­bers.

But if you hap­pened to like the idea of Perry get­ting edgier, you were pretty much out of luck: The show didn’t give her a big emo­tive bal­lad to sing (the clos­est it got, “Déjà vu,” was un­done by the campy stag­ing). Any­body over 18 would have found this a re­mark­ably soft-core show, but it seemed to strike the right chord for all the first-time con­cert­go­ers. Be­sides, they prob­a­bly don’t get many chances to stay out this late.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY STU­ART CAHILL

DIG­I­TAL DAZ­ZLE: Katy Perry per­forms at the TD Gar­den last night, the first of a twoshow stay in the Hub.

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