Pyrotechnics, hydraulics, areal stunts, mind-boggling costume changes, beautiful dancers – Katy Perry’s California Dream Tour came to a close as a well-oiled mechanism of popular tenor.

Perry pulled out all the stops in creating a performance to accompany her record-breaking album, Teenage Dream. With elements of cirque, ’80s rock, and Broadway, The California Dream Tour entertained the entire age range of her widely varied audience. Super-fans in blue wigs mingled with greying 40-something fathers chaperoning their teenaged daughters. Packs of gay men bounced excitedly in the pit. Celebrities speckled the arena like stars in the night sky, and not one person in the Staples Center could resist a smile as Katy produced trick after trick.

In a bold and theatrical move, Perry defied pop-convention with a loose, but impressive narrative that ran throughout the show. Dark and edgy, funny and vulgar – the story connected the spectrum of Perry’s vast collection of hits. The premise: an overworked, underpaid butcher’s assistant dreams of working in a bakery. She follows her cat (Kitty Purry) into a wonderful and frightening Candyland adventure – where the lines of dreaming and reality are blurred. Naturally, she opened the concert with “Teenage Dream.” In a candy-striped, mechanically spinning dress, Perry rose through the floor on a hydraulic lift to the screams of the sold-out 20,000 seat arena.

From there, it was a parade of debauchery with a costume change approximately every 3 songs. Her first sets featured her more carnal releases: “Ur So Gay” with its references to pot brownies, “Peacock” with its costumes that did little to disguise the meaning of the song, and “I Kissed A Girl” with a rubato, flamenco-style opening like a nod to classical aria.

Through it all – the glamor and the sparkles – it was Katy’s energy that shown through. On the very last date of her tour, Katy Perry was giving every bit of enthusiasm and charisma to her performance as she did 122 shows before. This on top of the extraordinarily busy week she spent in the national spotlight.

Perry’s newest single, “The One That Got Away,” jumped into the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 this week, making it the sixth single on the album to climb so high. If it goes to number one, she will topple Michael Jackson’s Thriller record for most number ones on a single album. As is, she’s tied the King of Pop with five – receiving a special AMA last weekend (from Heidi Klum, no less) for the achievement.

But even standing at the top of the world, pop-icon Katy Perry concluded her sold out 123-date international Teenage Dream Tour with grace and humility. In a moment of acoustic intimacy, Perry played “The One That Got Away” accompanied only by her 2 guitarists, BGVs, and an upright bass.

Before singing the number, she implored her audience, “I hope you don’t mind if I get a little cheesy, but playing the Staples Center is my teenaged dream.” On the edge of tears, she went on to explain that she moved to Los Angeles at 17 and dreamed one day of playing the arena. Now, 10 years later, she’s standing on its stage as the headliner of her own tour.

As if Katy Perry didn’t already have her hooks in the audience, the display of humanity and humility created a newfound respect as she segued from her current chart topper into a solo acoustic performance of “Thinking Of You” aboard a cotton candy cloud suspended above the audience. However extraordinary each over-the-top spectacular she pulled out of her hat, Perry excelled the theatrics in talent with her beautifully venerable vocals on the ballads and her high octane stamina on the up-tempos. The spectacular was just icing on the cake.

She closed out the show with a parade of hits: “Firework” and its pyrotechnic explosions, “Hot and Cold” with 8 on-stage costume changes that left the audience scratching their heads in wonderment, and a cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” during which she brought 30 lucky members of the audience on stage to perform alongside her.

It seemed all a dream. Kitty Purry had taken the audience on a journey through the looking glass. The lowly butcher’s assistant was going to the ball with the baker’s son, but something was missing – an encore. Equipped with a suds gun, Katy and her dancers finished off the night with her mega hit, “California Girls.”

Everybody in the first 10 rows was soaked as giant-sized beach balls flew through the air, leaving her fans feeling like they’d just walked off the beach in a never-ending summer. In that way, the final night of Katy Perry’s California Dream Tour accomplished just what it set out to achieve. Audience and superstar alike got to experience the California Dream.

For more info on Katy Perry:

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