As the lights drop at the Fly DSA Arena the high-pitched trill of screams that follows reveals that many of Perry’s fans now fall into an age bracket below 20 – and there is irony in the fact her breakout hits ‘Hot n Cold’ and ‘I Kissed a Girl’ are older than many of the fans in the room. Perfectly aware of this, Perry ensures her set is sprinkled with messages of empowerment, as she carefully balances the hats of pop star and role model.
Really though, Perry is here to entertain and belt out the many bangers she has become famous for. Unsurprisingly, she opens proceedings with title track ‘Witness’, flying into the arena on a giant star and dressed in gold armour. She storms through ‘Roulette’, ‘Dark Horse’ and ‘Chained to the Rhythm’ in quick succession, introducing numerous sci-fi themed visual elements including giant puppets with TV heads.
You can’t help but get the feeling that the Perry everyone is here to see arrives with the opening notes of ‘Teenage Dream’. The set switches to candy colours, huge flamingos and geometric shapes as she belts out ‘Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F)’, ‘Hot n Cold’, ‘California Gurls’ and ‘I Kissed a Girl’. The crowd goes wild and Perry really starts hitting her stride, which is rudely interrupted by an odd scene with a piano playing shark (perhaps one for the kids!?)
There are moments when it seems like Perry has a message for us. At the end of ‘Chained to the Rhythm’, a song about “livin’ our lives through a lens” she shouts: “wake up!” But the message is not clear enough to make it through the giant puppets, acrobatics and fireworks. A clock is a recurring theme, but it seems to be a reminder to Perry to take stock of her incredible career rather than a powerful statement that resonates with the audience.
It is undeniable that Perry is a pop star with considerable clout. After only one decade in the music industry, she blasts through a staggering 20-song set without missing beat, proving her vocals are as powerful on stage as they are in the recording studio.