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Pop queen delivers plenty of fireworks -- and she can sing, too

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/8/2014 (1087 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

When Katy Perry was last in town, it was July 2011 and she was in the middle of her confectionary California Dreams Tour -- a massive, nine-leg jaunt that kept her on the road for almost a full year.

It was a dizzying Candyland-meets-Alice in Wonderland concept tour -- replete with a silver, Hershey's kiss-shaped bra, a candy-cane staircase, a whipped-cream bazooka and a plot line involving a "magic" brownie.

Katy Perry performs at MTS Centre, Tuesday, August 26, 2014. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

Katy Perry performs at MTS Centre, Tuesday, August 26, 2014. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)



Tuesday night's stop at the MTS Centre was a less cohesive but no less stimulating affair, and it didn't make you want to brush your teeth afterwards. Perry's mega-watt Prismatic tour -- in support of her fourth studio album, 2013's Prism -- sees her eschew the cutesy act for sheer, big-budget production. To be sure, the Prismatic stage set up is a freaking feat of engineering, from the mammoth triangle-shaped catwalk that extended just past the centre of the floor to the set piece that folded up into a prism to the blockbuster light show. Perry's brand of arena bombast is next level.

When the pop star herself emerged from the centre of that pyramid in a neon dress, she was met with an adoring roar (sorry) from the sold-out crowd of 14,000 (1,000 more than 2011), which had a strong contingent of screaming, glitter-cheeked, school-age girls who looked like they were about to short-circuit with excitement. She opened with the empowerment anthem Roar -- which contained a fun, glow-in-the-dark jump rope routine. That segued into a hyped-up version of Part of Me and Wide Awake, during which Katy sang from a triangle-shaped platform suspended high in the air.

Well, "sang," most likely. It was quickly apparent that Perry was alternating between singing/lip syncing to a backing track; on both songs it almost sounded like she was hitting every other word (ouch). The reliance on a backing vocal track wasn't clear. Her own choreography is usually no more involved or demanding than a beginner-level step aerobics class; she leaves the heavy-lifting to her estimable back-up dancers. And when she did sing -- like, really sing, as on early set highlight This Moment -- she sounded solid.

Still, the fans didn't care. When she re-emerged on a golden horse in full Cleopatra for the club jam Dark Horse, the crowd went nuts. It's easy to be skeptical of the sheer volume of spectacle; is there so much to look at because there needs to be? Still, Perry's an entertainer, to be sure -- and when she sank her teeth into it, as on the Superbowl-level performance of I Kissed A Girl, she was dynamite.

She's got a sense of humour, too. In a section dubbed 'cat-toure,' she emerged -- dressed as Kitty Purry, in a sparky pink cat costume -- on a giant ball of purple yarn for a campy, Cats-inspired performance of Hot N Cold, one of the night's strongest vocal turns. For International Smile, Kitty Purry and her back-up cats made full use of the scratching-post set pieces. (They then strutted their stuff down the catwalk -- get it? -- to Madonna's Vogue. Pure camp.)

The mid-set acoustic performance of By The Grace of God was a highlight. Dressed like Glinda the Good Witch (but with rainbow locks), she sang her heart out. Really sang. And yes, it was beautiful.

She treated the audience to some charming stage-banter -- she knows we're the Slurpee capital of the world, which elicited a big cheer -- and then she gave away a pepperoni pizza to a young fan named Emily, who she brought up on stage. She picked up a sparkling guitar for a lovely rendition of The One That Got Away. "We love you, Katy!" a few little girls called out before she sang Unconditionally.

The energy was brought back up with neon '90s dance party -- DJed by the crazy winky face Emoji -- featuring Katy's backup dancers. Perry -- in green hair and a smiley-face skirt and bra combo -- was suspended above the crowd for Walking on Air. (It was no Pink.) The'90s force was strong; for It Takes Two, she donned a yin-yang dress with a towering skirt. This Is How We Do was firmly in this decade, featuring giant Emoji balloons, an Emoji video and Katy cruising around the stage in a pink blowup convertible.

She saved her biggest hits for last, closing the main set with high energy Teenage Dream and California Gurls before returning for not one, but two single-song encores. For Birthday, Perry brought up a birthday girl from the crowd to sit in a special throne perched on top of a double-tier platform shaped like a cake while she floated over the crowd. She topped that with an explosive performance of Firework, which required special 'prism-vision' glasses. The two-hour show ended, naturally, with a fireworks display.

Say what you will about Katy Perry. She knows how to put on a pop show.

This is the second time that Texan country star Kacey Musgraves has graced the stage at the MTS Centre this year; she opened for Lady Antebellum back in March. That she's able to open for both speaks to both her versatility; she's also opened for Willie Nelson and Alison Krauss. Musgraves is still touring in support of 2013's Grammy-winning Same Trailer, Different Park -- a juggernaut of a debut that announced the arrival of an exciting new voice in her genre.

Musgraves was great in March, and she was great Tuesday night; she finally looks comfortable on a big stage -- even working the length of Perry's formidable catwalk. Her setlist drew primarily from Same Trailer -- including the free-to-be-you-and-me anthem Follow Your Arrow, and the always stunning Merry Go 'Round-- but she sprinkled in a few surprises, too, such as Miranda Lambert's Mama's Broken Heart, which Musgraves co-wrote. The next time I write about this woman, I hope it's as a headliner.

Read more by Jen Zoratti.


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