"I never made it through high school -- but I made it through beauty school," Katy Perry announced from the stage of Seattle's 1,100 person capacity Showbox Theater Saturday night, at the opening stop of her first-ever national tour. The remark was one of several she'd make throughout the 75-minute show in what came across as a contrived effort to remind the audience of her image as pop's cheeky pin-up girl.
Over 14 songs, Perry danced the hokey pokey, dotted her set with ineffectual expletives ("I'm like Costco. You can fucking sample this shit, too!"), and played all of 2008's One of the Boys. Her third song of the night, the catchy pop treat "Hot N Cold," began strong when her four-piece backing band -- two guitars, bass, and drums -- launched into a rock-tinged rendition of the tune that included offbeat guitar riffs and pummeling bass. But when Perry reached the chorus, her vocals strained and she resorted to sashaying about in her girly-girl outfit -- a sequined pink halter top and short-shorts.
Regardless of the singer's failed execution, the young crowd danced and sang along enthusiastically. They were, however, less moved by tracks like Perry's current single, "Thinking of You," during which she played -- or attempted to play -- an electric guitar alongside the band.
Later, Perry introduced "Ur So Gay" by recalling a story about an ex-boyfriend: "I started missing my jeans, I started missing my black mascara, and he was always listening to Death-Cab-for-fucking-Cutie in the car." It was, possibly, the worst joke to tell a Seattle crowd. After all, she was preaching to the band's hometown fans.
Two songs later, Perry left the stage only to return for a two-song encore after donning a leopard-print cat suit, complete with ears and a tail. She belted out a shaky cover of Queen's "Don't Stop Me," which came off more like a karaoke rendition than a tribute to the band she deemed her "greatest influence." The singer capped the evening with the song that made her a household name, "I Kissed a Girl," while gyrating against a giant inflatable tube of cherry chapstick.
Perry's first stop on her national tour was a critical disappointment. She relied too heavily on her manufactured image to sneak out of hitting high notes and playing difficult chords. But fortunately for Perry, there are plenty of teenage listeners who haven't quite caught on to her charade.
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"One of the Boys"
"Hot N Cold"
"Waking Up In Vegas"
"Thinking of You"
"If You Can Afford Me"
"Ur So Gay"
"I'm Still Breathing"
"I Think I'm Ready"
"Don't Stop Me"
"I Kissed a Girl"