If there’s a downside to being a mega pop star, it’s always having to figure out how to top your last move — even if you have to borrow.
For Katy Perry, it was a California Dreams Tour in 2011 that was sugary enough to give fans a cavity from 200 feet away.
Having worked through the heartbreak of divorce, she warned of a darker return for fourth album “Prism,” and the music was certainly more heavy and pulsing this time. So was the imagery. But Katy Perry is still about fun, and that was the general vibe once again Tuesday night on the sold-out Prismatic Tour stop at Consol Energy Center.
The California Girl was called upon to “Roar” and more. During the nearly two-hour spectacle, she went through nine wardrobe changes, jumped rope, road a mechanical horse, swung upside down and became one of the dancing cats of Kittywood.
It was a lot of awards-show flash we’ve seen many times before. Ms. Perry did her best to connect with her Katycats on as personal a level you can get in an 18,000-seat arena. They were pumped, even doing the Wave as they waited what seemed like an eternity for her to arrive.
She launched the hit parade with a drum-and-bass “Roar,” rising out of a prism she might be able to resell to a Pink Floyd tribute band, surrounded by neon Trojan soldiers. It was all very Madonna, except for the long moving runway, and pretty cold and mechanical, with no musicians in sight for “Part of Me” and “Wide Awake.”
The seven-piece band rose out of the floor for the fourth song, “This Moment,” giving it a more legit concert feel, and moving the show to the ancient Egyptian segment with “Dark Horse” and “E.T.”
If you liked the Madonna Super Bowl halftime, it was a chance to relive it with Katy Perry songs.
“I Kissed a Girl,” complete with — yes — bubble-butt mummies, was much harder and devoid of the charm of the original. The band rocked it right into cacophony, then destroyed “Hot N Cold” by turning into a pounding vamp. The more overt Madonna nod came on the “International Smile” / “Vogue” combo.
She didn't break the ice until she emerged in the rainbow gown and hair to be her charming self and chat with fans about the American Dream, heartbreak, gardening, gluten and other stuff. She even brought up an angelic young fan and handed her a pizza. In acoustic mode, she settled into the tenderness of piano ballad “By the Grace of God,” a weepy “The One That Got Away” and awfully awkward “Unconditionally.”
The energy picked up again in a much brighter way for the “Walking on Air” high wire act and a final run of summery hits (“Teenage Dream,” “California Gurls”), a “Birthday” party and prism effects for “Firework,” sending her Katycats home with a happy neon glow.
To top this spectacle, next time she might need a stadium with room to land a spaceship.
L.A. synth-pop band Capital Cities could be in line to contend for “next Bee Gee’s” if another disco era were to break out. The quintet, fronted by dual singers Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian (with the beard) and wearing garish matching ’70s jackets, played a funky opening set enlivened by trumpet and highlighted by their catchy thumping hit “Safe and Sound.”
It was the one song excitedly received — despite a cover of Madonna’s “Holiday” and the best attempt to put over a chant of “I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo”— so they ended the set with a rave-y remix to a cell phone glow.
Scott Mervis: firstname.lastname@example.org; 412-263-2576.