TAMPA — Katy Perry is the current queen of pop music, and a sold-out crowd of neon-clad, primary-colored haired subjects packed the Tampa Bay Times Forum to the rafters on Monday night.
Her songs follow the typical pattern of pop these days. If she’s not singing about having fun, she’s pining for her lost love or telling the world about how strong she is. If she’s not alone in that field, the reaction at the Forum Monday night, Perry delivers that formula better than anyone else.
The Prismatic tour is all about spectacle, with more costume changes than a fashion show, special effects worthy of a Broadway show and dancing, dancing and more dancing. And Perry is the little engine that makes it go.
Clad in a short dress lined with lights, she opened with a trio of self-actualization anthems, “Roar,” “Part of Me” and “Wide Awake” before shifting into dance mode with “This Moment.”
A light show distracted the audience long enough for a costume change, and it was off to Egypt and “Dark Horse” and Perry re-emerged as a queen of the Nile on a golden horse puppet, the first of a half dozen costume changes.
Other times she emerged as a cat, while the rest of the dancers looked like a dinner theater cast of “Cats”: a 1990s-style dancer with shocking green hair and stockings and a bra with happy faces in the places you’d expect; and a palm-frond top and skirt.
Subtle, she isn’t.
She got a huge response when she talked about living in Fort Myers as a child, and called getting mosquito bites “a warm welcome to Florida.”
She flirted with the crowd, at one point getting on the stage to allow audience members to get selfies with her. At one point while preparing to be wired up to fly over the audience, she slipped off the stage and was caught by the crowd, literally being in the palms of its hands.
The highlight of the show was an acoustic set, with Perry singing “By the Grace of God” with a solo piano, dedicating it to her fans and saying they helped her through a dark time in her life. Then she picked up a guitar (well, she “grew” a guitar magically from beneath the stage — nothing just happened in this show) and sang an spare acoustic version of “The One That Got Away,” which proved to be much more effective than the poppy original. It made you think she could dispense with the dancers, the balloons and the costumes and hold a stage all by herself. Perhaps that’s why she’s the queen.
Opening act Ferras, a Tampa singer whose tunes lean heavily on the synth, won the crowd over with nintendo tunes that would have fit in any John Hughes movie from the 1980s, and that’s high praise from this reviewer.
The second opening act, Capital Cities, served up peppy salsa-inflected party tunes, including their hit “Safe and Sound” and a crowd-pleasing, mid-tempo cover of the Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive.”