REVIEW: The pop star upped her production, if not her reputation.
With eight No. 1 singles over the past four years, Katy Perry has earned the right to be taken more seriously as one of pop music’s greatest forces of the 2010s. At her Target Center concert on Friday night, she also earned the right to release her own exercise DVD, open a giant party supply store and start an acrobatic circus — but not teach voice lessons or coach a speech team.
Friday’s sold-out, hyper-colorful and just plain hyper performance on Perry’s Prismatic World Tour vaguely succeeded in upping her artistic merit in ways that might make Lady Gaga gag. Mostly, though, the biggest spike was in production value.
The most family-friendly of the modern pop starlets — though she still slips in innuendos like candy in an Easter basket — Perry drew a heavy tween-aged contingent among her 15,000 fans, even younger than the audience she played to at Xcel Energy Center in 2011. Since then, she has added two more No. 1 hit singles to her roster, including her set’s opener “Roar.” Fans roared right from the start.
The California girl, 29, quite literally hit the ground running, too. She pulled off an impressive jump-rope routine with a glowstick-strung rope in the first song. A minute or two later, in “Part of Me,” she climbed up to and dangled from a giant triangle jungle-gym thingie. Then she did cheerleader-peppy dances atop a spinning triangle mini-stage that levitated 15 feet up in the third song “Wide Awake.” Somebody’s been doing their Pilates.
Throughout the two-hour set, Perry’s stage imagery provided visual clues like overly descriptive closed-captioning. She came out in Egyptian garb riding a golden horse to cue the decadent, cocky tone of her more hip-hop-heavy tunes, “Dark Horse” and “E.T.” She enlisted what looked like leftover “Cats” dancers and announced herself as “Kitty Purry” to set the silly tone of her ’50s-showband-style “Hot N Cold” remake (very cold in this case).
Later on, she came out wrapped in a shimmery white shawl under a giant flower umbrella to set up the dramatic, Hallmark Channel tone of the ballad “By the Grace of God.” When her voice wasn’t buried under other prerecorded vocals and dance beats — the encore finale “Firework” was another one in which she opened up her pipes — Perry came off shrill and shallow. No wonder she mostly stuck to the sillier stuff.
The concert was dragged down to a downright goofy level during a long break where she listed off items in her garden back home (kale was particularly emphasized) and then delivered a pizza to fans, announcing she’s gone gluten-free (“What is gluten, anyway?” she asked Seinfeld-style). So when a giant, inflatable taco and poop emoji floated over the crowd during “This Is How We Do,” it actually seemed like the show had gotten back to normal.
One of the smarter decisions Perry made for this tour was recruiting a reputable young country music starlet as her opener. East Texas singer/songwriter Kacey Musgraves, 26, could have served as a stand-in for Perry, but her warbling voice, excellent twang-rock backing band and songs of down-and-out rural life offered a contrast as sharp as the spears carried by Perry’s dancers.
Musgrave won the crowd over mid-set with a rocking cover of “These Boots Were Made for Walkin’ ” and then showed off her clever writing talent in the small-town epic “Merry Go Round.” No trouble taking her seriously.
See a concert photo gallery and set list at startribune.com/music
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658