Different kind of ‘Teenage Dream’
Katy Perry ditches edgy aspirations at Garden
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.
DIGITAL DAZZLE: Katy Perry performs at the TD Garden last night, the first of a twoshow stay in the Hub.