She flew over the crowd on a replica of Saturn, strumming an acoustic guitar. She tumbled in midair inside massive red lips filled with air, not collagen. She wore a tube top that broadcast lyrics like a karaoke machine.
Katy Perry is a study in goofiness, a concert as a cartoon, an extreme sensory overload.
On Friday night at Xcel Energy Center, Perry tried to out-Gaga Lady Gaga. But there was no point, no humanity, no purpose in her show other than escapism and entertainment.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Sometimes, though, fans might want to get to know an artist a little more. Get a taste of the personality of the star they worship. After all, Perry was very revealing in her 2012 concert-tour movie and in her 2017 YouTube special in which the cameras were on her for four consecutive days.
At the Xcel, Perry, 33, was all frothy fun. In fact, she seemed to be having more fun than the fans.
That's probably because the 12,000 fans fell for Perry at different points of her 10-year career. So there were distinct constituencies — 5- to 15-year-old girls (with parents), 20- and 30-somethings and middle-age couples.
When Perry galloped into "Dark Horse," the 7-year-old in front of me jumped for joy for the entire song. The rest of the night she looked lost.
Most of the crowd looked lost during anything Perry played from her current album, "Witness," which has experienced lackluster sales compared to her three previous blockbusters. Nine of the 20 songs in Friday's set came from "Witness." The album has more an electropop vibe, heavy on dance-club rhythms. And many of the new songs, including "Tsunami" and "Déjà Vu," were tedious, which made the second half of the two-hour show drag.
At least, Perry spiced up "Swish Swish" by having a dad from the crowd come onstage and shoot baskets with her. She primed the audience for "Power" by bringing a fan — Kelsey, 30, owner of a Bloomington bakery — onstage to wish upon a star. The baker wished that all her employees would achieve their potential.
Kelsey teared up. Perry consoled her, though she said when she picked Kelsey because she thought she was a tween; the singer said she usually pulls young girls for the wish-upon-a-star bit.
That was about as much of Perry's personality that was on display. Unless your idea of manifesting personality is making the statement "I'm your wonderful if extremely weird host" or saying you went to Prince's Paisley Park earlier or talking to your mom (for real) on the phone. Mom made jokes about being at a fight and a hockey game broke out. Turns out Mom is waiting for Perry in Des Moines, where the tour travels Saturday.
At the X, Perry certainly didn't distinguish herself as a dancer. Moreover, her voice isn't the strongest, though she was in full-throated glory during the closing "Firework." But then Perry doesn't go on tour to satisfy musically.
She's all about the show, all about the spectacle. The backdrop shaped like a mammoth eye with a runway crafted like a tear rolling down her cheek. The giant origami lion that exploded onstage near the end of "Roar." Her dancers decked out in vibrant "Miami Vice" pastels during "Teenage Dream." Her Cirque du Soleil-like acrobats performing while Perry changed outfits. The oversized Venus flytrap plant that swallowed Perry, who was dressed like a bug, at the end of "Bon Appétit," which featured a detour into Janet Jackson's "What Have You Done for Me Lately."
It might have made more sense if the 1980s-loving Perry had done a taste of Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun."