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Concert Reviews:
Katy Perry runs "Hot n Cold" at Little Caesars

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Thursday, December 7, 2017

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DETROIT -- Asking if anyone at Little Caesars Arena was seeing her for the first time, Katy Perry promised that her shows are “typically pretty fun.”

Her two-hour concert on Wednesday, Dec. 6 -- No. 33 on her Witness: The Tour, Perry announced -- was certainly that for a good chunk of the time. But a significant letdown at one juncture of the night made it more of a “Hot ‘n’ Cold” experience than a “Firework.”

The show certainly checked off all the boxes of a pop spectacle -- extravagant special effects, colorful and outlandish costumes, tight and clever choreography, arresting visuals -- during its first five minutes alone. In fact, the first 50 minutes or so of Perry’s time on stage was nothing short of dazzling as she combined some of her best material (“Dark Horse,” “Teenage Dream,” “California Gurls,” “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.),” “Chained To The Rhythm) with visual dynamics. She entered riding a star-shaped spacecraft above the stage, danced on a large pair of dice, rode column-shaped risers up and down, shared the stage with 10 dancers, the infamous Left Shark from her Super Bowl XLIX halftime show, and giant puppets, including a pair of flamingos, and fired the first of three confetti blasts into the arena.

The energy was unflagging and impressive, and Perry, who changed costumes six times over the course of the 20-song set, seemed well on her way to staking a claim as the most dynamic performer in the crowded field of pop divas.

The brakes, however, came hard and sudden. A phone-call schtick with her mom was a speed bump before a lumbering re-arrangement of her first hit, “I Kissed A Girl” -- although seeing her airborne again inside a giant pair of lips was another enjoyable sight gag. But the likes of “Deja Vu,” “Tsunami,” “Wide Awake” (with a guitar-playing Perry riding above the crowd on a Saturn-shaped float) and even “E.T.” didn’t regain the momentum despite their own opulent staging, and an extended “Swish Swish,” including a basketball shoot-off with an audience member, became a snooze.

Worst of all was the “exercise” prior to “Power,” when Perry brought eight-year-old fan Hannah, sitting high in the back corner of the arena’s lower bowl, to the stage to make a wish on a “shooting star.” It started cute, but when Hannah revealed her wish to be a cure for her 10-year-old brother’s diabetes, Perry’s decision to lead the crowd in a “Dylan is healed” chant was inappropriate and misguided, turning a sweet moment into something creepy.

Perry and company (including Detroiters Kristopher Pooley and Cherri Black) did finish strong with “Roar” and a pyrotechnic-accompanied “Firework,” although much of the young-skewing, far from sold-out crowd -- many in elaborate costumes of their own making -- was gone by the encore. Call it a kind of “Power” failure, or one that lost its sense of fun far too soon.

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