Sunday, August 19 , 2018, 9:36 am | Overcast 70º


Jeff Moehlis: Katy Perry Brings It Home to Santa Barbara Bowl

Pop singer dazzles hometown crowd with two sold-out performances

When Katy Perry yelled out, “There’s no place like home!” on Sunday during her second night at the Santa Barbara Bowl, the crowd roared its approval. The pop star, who is riding high on her Teenage Dream album that has yielded a whopping five No. 1 hits, certainly hasn’t forgotten her Santa Barbara roots.

Indeed, at the concert she recalled playing guitar and singing for change — or sometimes an avocado or Santa Barbara pistachios — as a 13-year-old at the local farmers market, sneaking into The
Bowl for her second-ever concert to see Radiohead and hanging out on Del Playa Drive even though she didn’t attend UCSB. (She noted, presumably based on her time partying on D.P., that, “If you can survive UCSB, you can survive anything.”)

She did confess that she was born in Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital, so really she’s from Goleta. Whatever the case, she seems to love the whole Santa Barbara area, paying particular props to La Super Rica and Rusty’s Pizza, which she enjoyed during this visit to town.

Her concert was a truly dazzling spectacle, with a stage extension coming out into the general admission area, three screens above the Candyland-inspired stage and two on the side, plus dancers and colorful costumes galore. For “Waking Up In Vegas,” there were dancers dressed as a slot machine, Elvis Presley and Vegas showgirls, and at the end Perry threw out coins from her slot machine winnings into the audience.

For “Peacock” (which, like some of her other songs, is perhaps a bit suggestive lyrically for some of the young ears in the audience), Perry had tail feathers and strutted her stuff while two male dancers spun on trapezes. For “Hot N Cold,” Perry’s blue-bewigged dresses changed as if by magic. For “Pearl,” Perry wore a sparkly silver dress and was raised 25 feet on a platform. For “Not Like The Movies,” she sat on a swing with flower-decorated ropes that was raised up in front of a movie screen showing cartoons. And those are just some of the staging highlights.

The concert had a storyline based on Perry’s attempt to find her cat Kitty Purry, with campy movie clips keeping the story moving. Things got more surreal after she took a bite from a magic brownie from the naughty mimes who danced during “Ur So Gay.” This led to Perry dressed as (or transformed into?) a cat for “Circle the Drain” and a super cool laser light show for “E.T.” She ended up falling in love with the Baker’s Boy, who sold her a cupcake treat. Spoiler alert: It all turns out to be a dream, but after she wakes up, the Baker’s Boy is real.

OK, this wasn’t adaptation, but it was a cute narrative.

Perry was joined a few times by people from the audience, first by “Santa Barbara boys” Jake and Jimmy, who Perry sneaked kisses to, then got pecks on the cheek from before she sang “I Kissed a Girl.” Then there were a bunch of girls from the audience who danced onstage with Perry during her cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me),” including one girl who got the ultimate I-was-there cell phone picture cheek-to-cheek with Perry.

In the middle of the concert, there was a “Katy-oke” karaoke segment in which Perry sang some of her favorite songs with acoustic accompaniment: Rihanna’s “Only Girl (In the World),” Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin’,” Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair” and, amusingly after building it up as the most serious part of the show, Rebecca Black’s “Friday” from the YouTube viral video that clearly was familiar to most of the crowd.

This segment closed with Perry’s own “Thinking of You,” which started with her alone with a sparkly acoustic guitar and some amazing heart-shaped foam puffs that floated up to the heavens.

The show closed with her uplifting song “Firework,” then “California Gurls,” for which Perry wore her Hershey’s Kisses top and was joined by dancing gingerbread men. During the latter, giant beach balls were hit around by the crowd, and Perry sprayed the people in front with some soapy water.

Perry promised to keep returning to Santa Barbara. Whether the next show will be at The Bowl, another return to her old high school or elsewhere, expect another colorful dancefest when she does.


Teenage Dream
Hummingbird Heartbeat
Waking Up In Vegas
Ur So Gay
I Kissed a Girl
Circle the Drain
Who Am I Living For?
Not Like the Movies
Only Girl (In the World) (Rihanna cover)
Big Pimpin’ (Jay-Z cover)
Friday (Rebecca Black cover).
Whip My Hair (Willow Smith cover)
Thinking Of You
I Want Candy (The Strangeloves cover)
Hot N Cold
Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)
I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) (Whitney Houston cover)
California Gurls

Noozhawk contributing writer Jeff Moehlis is a professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his Web site,

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