Katy Perry polishes her pop star shimmer

January 8, 2018 GMT

Katy Perry’s pop shimmer dulled considerably with last year’s underwhelming “Witness” album. But the pop star with the deep wardrobe has polished it up nicely, and parades like a queen, on the accompanying tour.

Sunday night’s show at Toyota Center was an exuberant, eye-popping spectacle. It looked great from every angle, and every angle had something to look at.

A giant LED eye loomed over the massive stage, which curled out to a runway that snaked into the crowd. The platform was covered with colors and lights and dancers from start to finish.

This production was pop wizardry at its peak - and often at its wackiest. There were giant dice that spewed dancers. Tim Burton-esque creatures on stilts. Giant pink flamingos and blinking roses. And, of course, an appearance by Left Shark.

Perry phoned her mother during what sounded like a live call. Her mom expounded on all things local. (“Houston is the most diverse city in the country! Sundays are for football and church!”)


As expected, the pop star shifted through a series of looks - dripping in red sequins, flamenco-inspired black and white, a sparkling silver wig and puffy gown.

Musically, her new material lacks the punch of previous hits. It’s a bit too serious and self-aware. (The standout was a mashup of “Bon Appétit” and Janet Jackson’s “What Have You Done for Me Lately.”) Perry knows that and stuffed the show with the songs that made her a superstar.

“Dark Horse” was astonishing in its visual and sonic power. “Teenage Dream” was accessorized with ’80s colors, shapes and synchronized leg movements.

She soared above the crowd and amid a system of neon planets during heartfelt ballad “Thinking of You.”

And there was “Hot n Cold” and “Last Friday Night” and “California Gurls” and so many crowd singalongs and signs and dancing mothers and wide-eyed daughters and blinking cat ears.

Late in the set, Perry brought a young fan onstage, 10-year-old Maria, to grant her one wish.

“I wish that we have a good year,” Maria said.

It was a sweet, simple moment amid so much candy-coated razzle-dazzle.

Carly Rae Jepsen, whose “Call Me Maybe” was the best-selling worldwide single of 2012, opened with a similarly unfussy attitude. Her eight-song set was, quite simply, pop perfection.

Jepsen’s magic is marrying her sweet, soaring voice with songs that incorporate the best elements of current trends with those from the ’80s and ’90s. It’s a mix that’s put her light years ahead of bigger stars.

She was enchanting on every tune - “Run Away With Me,” Emotion,” “Gimme Love,” “Boy Problems,” “Cut to the Feeling” - and did it all without campy sharks or costume changes.