Katy Perry has garnered a strong, diverse fan base since launching into mainstream pop music in 2008 with 'I Kissed A Girl', and they all showed up to the first of two Brisbane 'Witness' tour shows on 8 August.
This live incarnation of her 2017 album 'Witness' is an eyeful, literally. The focal point of her stage is a giant eye, which scales the room before transforming into the screen for the entirety of the show, providing gorgeous backdrops for a decent setlist of hits.
Katy emerges from the centre of the eye and launches into the album's title track and 'Roulette'... With that, the night is suddenly well underway.
Visually, it's something reminiscent of Miley Cyrus' 'Bangerz' tour in 2014, albeit a little more well put-together: An almost cartoon, child-like aesthetic complete with vibrant costumes, giant flamingos, floating planets, a fully-functional inflatable mouth, an actual mid-show basketball 1x1 match... The list goes on. Katy makes her way around these impressive set-pieces like a pro.
Her interaction between songs is hilarious, including a dispute about how Australians pronounce 'aluminium' and the dedication of her ballad 'Into Me You See' to a meat pie given to her by a fan. It comes across that she genuinely enjoys speaking with her audience and that can be the difference between a good show and a great show.
Katy isn't a vocal powerhouse. But having a catalogue of hits like hers plus the ability to put on such an impressively high-scaled show means that this doesn't really matter. Besides, if you're familiar with her work over the last ten years you'd know by now not to expect something of Celine Dion magnitude. It doesn't take away from the show as a whole and is more than made up for in the tour's other elements.
Image © Kalem Horn
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One thing that does come across jarring is the reworking of some of her older songs, presumably to match the overall style of 'Witness'. There are remixes where remixes shouldn't be – 'I Kissed A Girl' gets an unrecognisable house-esque first half, 'Teenage Dream' is backed by a thumping nightclub instrumental – and although the general essence of the songs is there, something doesn't feel quite right. Again, this doesn't completely ruin the show; in fact, for some it might feel like fresh new takes on her hits, but let's face it, the general public want to hear the classics how they know they sound.
Speaking of the classics, there is also a noticeable downward shift in atmosphere whenever a 'Witness' non-single is performed ('Tsunami' and 'Power' for example). This is somewhat to be expected, however. It makes sense that an audience that rarely sees their favourite pop star is more interested in their earlier work as much as they try to plug new material with a tour.
In conclusion, this show makes it easy to see why fans keep coming back to see (or, witness) Katy Perry. Her stage presence is undeniable, her music is great and the show is truly a visual spectacle that encompasses the pure camp extravagance that pop music seems to be lacking these days.
She plays Brisbane Entertainment Centre one more time (10 August), and limited tickets are still available.