Concert Review: Katy Perry

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She opened the set to the pre-recorded strains of Queen's "Killer Queen" and covered that band's "Don't Stop Me Now" as an encore. During her 75-minute homecoming set Saturday night at the Wiltern, Katy Perry revealed that she's also royalty of some sort: She's the queen of putdown pop.

Pop music's It Girl sang of boys who aren't men but mannequins, run "hot and cold" and are "so gay ... but don't even like boys." The young sold-out crowd ate it up, thinking it was not only catchy, but edgy pop with an attitude. Those with a bit more experience, however, had to think of similar sentiments expressed by one-hit-wonders from decades of yore, such as Jill Sobule's "I Kissed a Girl" from 1995, Josie Cotton's "Johnny Are You Queer?" from 1981 and Toni Basil's "Mickey" from 1982. Perry can't just be dismissed as a one-hit-wonder -- she's already had two with her "I Kissed a Girl" and "Hot N Cold" -- but you have to wonder why she's managed to create such a buzz while those others were only blips on the pop radar screen. Are her songs better? Has the culture shifted so much that such concepts are more acceptable? Or is Perry just such a dynamic performer that she can't be ignored?

At the Wiltern, Perry was a serviceable showgirl with plenty of flash and props. She performed in a sparkly, low-cut party dress in front of a backdrop with a cat with glowing eyes, while the stage was littered with inflatable fruit and balloons. Her four-piece band looked like a white-suited lounge act until the lights dimmed and fluorescent piping transformed them into "Tron" extras. She played the big hits and threw in a few covers, including the Outfield's '80s schmaltz-rocker "Your Love." Yet Perry only hinted that she's an artist with more than shock-and-awe hits during foray into singer-songwriter territory with the back-to-back confessionals "Lost" and "Thinking of You." She performed latter solo on acoustic guitar, harking back to her days at Hotel Cafe.

Covering Queen proved to be a risky proposition, since her take on the band's 1979 hit "Don't Stop Me Now" was competent but only served as a reminder of how great that band was and how much further Perry has to go to be in their league. Her big hit, "I Kissed a Girl," was the climactic closer, with Perry cavorting around the stage with an inflatable cherry ChapStick. By the song's end, she was getting up-close-and-personal with the fans in the pit but had an army of bouncers to keep her away from any real danger. In all, Perry's show was a lot like the inflatable fruit on the stage: pretty, bouncy and fun to play with, but ultimately empty. It left you wondering if she'll bring something more substantial to the table next time around.

Venue: The Wiltern, Los Angeles (Saturday, Jan. 31)

SET LIST:

Fingerprints
One of the Boys
Hot N Cold
Self Inflicted
Your Love
Waking Up in Vegas
Lost
Thinking of You
Manikin
Ur So Gay
I'm Still Breathing
I Think I'm Ready
If You Could Afford Me
Don't Stop Me Now
I Kissed a Girl
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