Attending a Katy Perry concert is a bit like a stroll down the Las Vegas strip—a wild assortment of neon colors that draws the gaze of parents and kids alike, where fun seeks you out at every turn, and the sort of gathering where, while in line, drag queens stand beside middle-school tweens and no one bats an eyelash. Perry’s “Witness” tour, which arrived at New Orleans's Smoothie King Center on Friday, January 5, was simply transfixing. The intricate bells and whistles, the dozen-plus dancers, and the blindingly bright costumes, all eyes, including the floor-to-ceiling eyeball-shaped LED display projecting stunning video montages and shooting out lasers from its retina, were squarely on Perry, who would turn the night into a 20-song set that kept the NOLA audience completely mesmerized.
The hits came fast and furious as Perry entered the arena emblazed in fiery red frocks: “Dark Horse” segued into “Chained to the Rhythm,” then “Teenage Dream,” “Hot N Cold,” and “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.),” the latter even more celebratory considering it was, for many in the crowd, the end of a long week of work or school. The set list offered both new and old hits to appease the very diverse crowd. “Witness” may also be amongst the more inclusive of today’s pop offerings, particularly, again, when it comes to appealing across all ages. The costumes worn by Perry’s dancers, which included TV sets affixed atop their heads, for example, could be viewed as vintage or futuristic. Breaking into Janet Jackson’s “What Have You Done For Me Lately,” playing the theme to “The Price Is Right,” and featuring the chomp of Pac-Man made the retro nods more obvious to ticket-buying parents.
Still, there’s no denying how thoroughly contemporary Perry has always been, whether it’s turning a mid-tempo rallying call into the smash hit “Roar,” or embracing the stark tingle of the street-savvy “Swish Swish.” Ultimately, however, Perry’s purpose is to uplift the audience as she did with the show closer “Firework.” The demanding vocals would have left even the most seasoned of performers spent, but Perry, after 90 plus minutes of splits, dashes and Zumba-like moves, had the stamina to spare. No matter what your thoughts may be on Ms. Perry, she and her team always put on one hell of a spectacle.