It's one of the great cruelties of life: Sooner or later, we all grow too old to shoot whipped cream out of our novelty brassieres. Just ask Katy Perry, whose sold-out Monday show at the Tampa Bay Times Forum was decidedly without rocketing foodstuffs, once the record-setting singer's vavoomish trademark.
Instead, the 29-year-old superstar streamlined this stop on her Prismatic World Tour into all parts self-empowerment, acrobatics, special effects (a puppet steed for Dark Horse) and a whiz-bang light design (everything lit up, from the mondo backing screen to the long runways to the jump ropes for opening number Roar).
It was far more family-friendly than her last few stops in Tampa Bay, when the burlesque could get bawdy. Not anymore: I Kissed a Girl, perhaps the song that makes parents cringe the most, was now parodied as a monster movie, with big-eyed Perry fleeing zaftig zombies and flying guitarists distracting from the song's content. Her outfits tended toward cute, classy instead of tongue-wagging.
Early on, Perry told the female-strong crowd of 15,715, from the wee to the wizened: "If you can be present with me in this moment right now, then it's going to be the best moment of your lives." She then repeated Mad Lib variations of that, adding: "Do you love yourself? Good! That comes first!" And: "Golly gosh gee!" And "Jeez, Louise!" Sometimes it was a little too loose, a little too G-rated. Just a smidge of edge, and maybe less art, would have been nice.
Don't get me wrong: KP is still a good time, a tireless performer who takes seriously her stature as music's most bankable star, selling more digital singles (72 million) than any other artist, including Rihanna (second) and Taylor Swift (third).
And she made sure the hits came steady and well-crooned (Wide Awake, E.T.). her quavering New Wave holler in fine form. Dressed in a pink catsuit (literally), she vamped out a brassy version of Hot N Cold and then a goofy International Smile (with a Vogue kicker). Before an acoustic set featuring The One That Got Away and Unconditionally (ooh, butterfly kites) she mingled with the crowd, took selfies and introduced herself: "Hi, I'm Katy Perry."
"I've slowly decided to become an adult," she said at one point, laughing. And although that transition felt a little awkward at times Monday, Perry still knew what a young girl craves: Teenage Dream, California Gurls, and all those candied hits that closed out her safe, but satisfying show.
Now, who has a can of Reddi-wip?
Sean Daly can be reached at [email protected] Follow @seandalypoplife on Twitter and Instagram.