Katy Perry meows-merizes with cat-heavy Vancouver shows (PHOTOS)

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Katy Perry delivered exactly what you’d expect with her first of two shows in Vancouver Tuesday: hits, colour and spectacle.

But she also pulled off a few surprises. Cats, for one – so many cats. Cat-themed video interludes, cat-themed performances in catsuits, bad “meow” puns. For anyone who is casually aware of Katy Perry, a cat obsession might seem out of nowhere. She doesn’t use a lot of cat imagery in her music videos, and she didn’t have any iconic cat-themed looks or photos or performances until now. But apparently her fans call themselves Katy Cats, so that answers that.

Secondly, let’s face it, Katy Perry has not always been synonymous with pitch-perfect live singing. Now, however, she seems far more capable, sounding great and hardly ever letting the backing track or backup singers take over the vocally strenuous work (something I noticed Lady Gaga doing constantly during her ArtPop stop in Vancouver last month). Perry and her choreographers have finally learned that the star can’t really dance a lot and sing at the same time, but Perry has also grown since the days of her memorably lacklustre performances and now brings an engaging, fun energy to every moment.

Perry opened with “Roar,” setting the tone for the following two hours with LED-enhanced costumes, pyrotechnics, contortion and high-flying trapeze work by dancers. Indeed, the show was as much a circus as a concert, with complex routines taking place high above the stage that must have taken many months to rehearse. Perry ran through well-known hits “Wide Awake” and “Part of Me” as well as a few lesser-known, non-single cuts from her albums including “This Moment” and “Love Me.”

From there, the set and costumes took on an ancient Egyptian theme, and Perry performed “Dark Horse” on the back of a large, mechanical golden horse puppeteered by her dancers, then the Kanye West feature “E.T.” and another lesser-known cut called “Legendary Lovers.”

Then it was cat time, as the next sequence of songs was performed in cat suits while Perry perched atop a giant yarn ball and her dancers cavorted across kitty towers and scratching posts.

During short breaks where she addressed the audience, Perry improvised with charm and ease, managing to joke about the B.C. Teacher’s Federation Strike, suggesting that no school meant everyone could party with her that much harder and “turn up – that’s what all the kids are saying these days,” seemingly a reference to Miley Cyrus. Perry took a selfie with a fan’s iPad and, in a floral dress and on a stage now decorated with sunflowers, talked about what she grows in her garden at home. When a fan supplied “marijuana” as a guess, Perry replied, “I do not grow that! This is not that concert, that’s the other concert,” another possible Miley joke.

After a section of her slow, more soulful songs “By the Grace of God,” a mashup of “Thinking of You” and “The One That Got Away,” and her recent smash “Unconditionally,” the concert took a turn into certain territory that’s been well-worn by her peers lately.

Perry reemerged post-costume change in peace-symbol leggings and a smiley face bra with a radioactive-green bob wig in short pigtails, a colour favoured by Gaga and a style reminiscent of those popularized by Miley. The garish bright colours and 90s-ness was suited to Perry’s Eurodance hit “Walking on Air,” but she followed up with “How We Do,” a sort of brainless ditty in which she reminded the audience several times to get “turned up,” accompanied by balloons and projections in the shapes of iPhone Emoji.

This was a very Miley moment, but Perry had reminded us earlier in the night that she’s 29 years old. The grab for some of Miley’s fan base, the attempt to show that Perry could be a flippant, turnt-up tartlet too, fit ill on a woman of her age and compared poorly with the over-the-top, candy-coated extravaganza that characterized the show previously.

The somewhat sour taste of the less sophisticated final act was washed away with an encore performance of “Firework” to end the night, with Perry singing in a dramatic firework-themed gown with a vertical shower of fireworks going off behind her. All told, it was easily the best multi-million dollar concert I’ve seen in recent years, thanks in no small part to the fact that neither the Prismatic World Tour nor its star take themselves too seriously.

Photos of Katy Perry in all her glory

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Image: Rob Feller/Vancity Buzz

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The Crowd and Tegan and Sara

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Image: Rob Feller/Vancity Buzz

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Feature Image: Rob Feller/Vancity Buzz

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Derek Bedry is a writer whose work has been published in magazines, newspapers, online and on radio. He is interested in LGBT issues, news, zombie fiction and sports.

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