Once upon a time, in a year far, far away: Shannon Watkins on the Katy Perry Experience

Let’s revisit Katy Perry’s show at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto last Thursday. There was an Alice In Wonderland-esq storyline running throughout; there were choreographed dance numbers; there there were covers of Rihanna, Jay-Z and Rebecca Black (hilarious!); there were glittery costume changes every second song (at least); and Katy even demonstrated some ferocious quick-change skills during ‘Hot N Cold.’

She crossed over the crowd on a pink ‘cotton candy cloud’ suspended from the ceiling, while playing a rhinestone encrusted guitar. She had trapeze artists and fireworks while the back up dancers took a break backstage. She was lifted on a platform two stories above the stage while she sang “Thinking Of You” down to her legions of disciples, and she fired a whipped cream gun (or reasonable facsimile) into the front rows.
It was flippin’ spectacular!

And, I guess, spectacular is what you’d expect from the artist who is about to achieve five number one singles from one album – a feat that has previously only been accomplished by Michael Jackson. I mean, that in itself is pretty spectacular.

It’s hard to believe that 1100 days ago, she was a relative unknown. In June 2008, “Internet Darling” Katy Perry played in Canada for the first time on the second stage at the Vans Warped Tour, one of the most notoriously grueling North American tours. She had a viral video hit on MySpace with the track “Ur So Gay,” and Madonna was telling Ryan Seacrest on his L.A radio show that he just “had to hear it.”

This time in 2008 Katy Perry was crossing the continent in a shower-less van and playing outdoor shows for small crowds of dirty punk rockers – a far cry from the arena extravaganza she’s executing in 2011. She had been pegged by MTV, AOL, MSN and Yahoo as an exciting up-and-comer, and she hadn’t yet released a proper single.
Sometimes 2008 seems like a really long time ago, does it?

Photos courtesy of Amanda Reynolds. 

Setlist from the June 30th show in Toronto: setlist.fm

Remaining North American Tour Dates on Katy Perry’s California Dreams tour:

07/07/2011 Marcus Amphitheater, Milwaukee, WI – US
07/08/2011 Allstate Arena, Chicago, Il – US
07/09/2011 Xcel Energy Center, St Paul, MN – US
07/13/2011 Brandt Center – SOLD OUT, Regina, SK – CAN
07/14/2011 MTS Center – SOLD OUT, Winnipeg, MB – CAN
07/16/2011 ScotiaBank Saddledome – SOLD OUT, Calgary, AB – CAN
07/17/2011 Rexall Place – SOLD OUT, Edmonton, AB – CAN
07/19/2011 Rogers Arena – SOLD OUT, Vancouver, BC – CAN
07/20/2011 KeyArena at Seattle Center, Seattle, WA – US
07/22/2011 Rose Garden Arena, Portland, OR – US
07/23/2011 Taco Bell Arena, Boise, ID – US
07/25/2011 Energy Solutions Arena, Salt Lake City, UT – US
07/26/2011 1st Bank Center, Denver, CO – US
07/28/2011 Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie – SOLD OUT, Dallas, TX – US
07/29/2011 Toyota Center, Houston, TX – US
07/30/2011 Franck Erwin Center, Austin, TX – US
08/03/2011 Comerica Theatre, Phoenix, AZ – US
08/05/2011 Nokia Theatre LA Live (1) – SOLD OUT, Los Angeles, CA – US
08/06/2011 Nokia Theatre LA Live (2) – SOLD OUT, Los Angeles, CA – US
08/07/2011 Nokia Theatre LA Live (3), Los Angeles, CA – US
08/09/2011 Valley View Casino Center, San Diego, CA – US
08/12/2011 HP Pavilion, San Jose, CA – US
08/13/2011 Santa Barbara Bowl (1), Santa Barbara, CA – US
08/14/2011 Santa Barbara Bowl (2), Santa Barbara, CA – US
08/17/2011 Sprint Center, Kansas City, MO – US
08/19/2011 Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN – US
08/20/2011 Scottrade Center, Saint Louis, MN – US

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