ST. PETERSBURG — With her flirty peepers, sly smile and vavoomish figure, pop pinup Katy Perry looks like she sprang to life from the side of a World War II bomber. She has a fruit fetish to rival Carmen Miranda's. She lifts her cartoonish sexuality from early Madonna, her confessional snarl from Alanis Morissette.
The 24-year-old It Girl is made up of racy pop-culture parts, a big reason why her Tuesday gig at Jannus Landing sold out right quick. She's not that original — something borrowed, something bleepin' blue — but the saucy Cali girl certainly isn't boring, either.
The fallen daughter of pastor parents, the former gospel rocker twirled, skipped and flirted her way through a silly, satisfying 70-minute set of innuendo and catchy synth rock. The crowd of 1,200-plus — made up of teens, tweens and patient parents — warbled along to every lyric, hooted at every naughty word and giggled at her inflatable menagerie of cherries, strawberries and lipstick.
Oh, and a blowup banana — how could you forget that?
Much like her sweet-sour persona on platinum debut One of the Boys, Perry charmed with stories about growing up at "Christian skate" parties — and even led a mass Hokey Pokey — but followed with a wicked f-bomb in describing an ex. (As a rock critic I smiled; as a parent … yikes.)
Dressed in a plunging leopard-print top, sparkly skirt and black nylons, Perry worked through all her songs. Yes, there are only about a dozen of 'em, but half are hits. With a voice that is yelpier, screamier live, she admonished lame dates with Ur So Gay and Hot N Cold, sold the joys of Sin City in Waking Up in Vegas then got all soft and lovey with the ballad Thinking of You.
Her lyrics are about girl power, and Perry dutifully hired a cute-boy backing band — dressed all in white like humble servants — that she treated like props.
For an encore, Perry covered Queen's Don't Stop Me Now, her best vocal performance and a reminder that she's here to stay (or at least she thinks so). And while dressed in a skin-tight feline suit she closed with I Kissed a Girl, a big booming ode to situational lesbianism.
As Perry leaned into the crowd, her followers reached for her, adoring her, knowing that the fast-rising star won't be playing small clubs much longer. Sooner or later, she'll hit the arenas, the stadiums, and that blowup banana will only get bigger.
Sean Daly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life blog is at blogs.tampabay.com/popmusic.