MUSIC

Music Review: Katy Perry at the 9:30 Club

Katy Perry got the fans all worked up during her sold-out show Friday at the 9:30 club, although the stage chatter was less effective than the songs.
Katy Perry got the fans all worked up during her sold-out show Friday at the 9:30 club, although the stage chatter was less effective than the songs. (By Kyle Gustafson For The Washington Post)

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By Dave McKenna
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, April 13, 2009

Katy Perry should hope her career doesn't peak as early as her show Friday at the 9:30 club.

Several songs into the 75-minute-or-so set, Perry and her backing quartet delivered her dance club and radio smash, "Hot N Cold." Whenever the chorus came around, Perry smiled and hopped and spun across the stage in a goofy and almost weightless way that only young performers can muster. The floor in the sold-out club was too crowded for fans to spin, so everybody just hopped. The level of joy in the room was downright touching. Live shows can't get much more cathartic and fun than those few minutes.

So if Perry didn't bring the whole crowd to such an ecstatic state again, well, at least she got 'em there once.

Perry, 24, confessed during one of her many addresses to the audience that she talks too much. Her pop discography, made up of one record (last year's "One of the Boys"), isn't deep enough to fill a set on her first headlining tour with songs alone. She's naturally funny, so her babbling isn't the problem.

It's that she spent too much time trying to be shocking. She talked about her menstrual cycle and giggled whenever she said "vagina," which was a lot. During her shock-lite debut single, "UR So Gay," she picked up a piece of plastic watermelon that for some reason had "PENIS" written on it.You get the idea.

Perry's act doesn't aim for anything groundbreaking. Her songs, generally co-written by the same music industry pros who feed material to Pink, Kelly Clarkson and Britney Spears, owe a lot to '80s synth pop. One exception: "Thinking of You," rendered solo with Perry strumming an acoustic guitar, came off as a tribute to Alanis Morissette.

Perry's flamboyance and awkward stage poses, meanwhile, recall nobody so much as a young Cyndi Lauper.

Like Lauper, Perry does the fun stuff real well. Whenever she stopped talking, unstrapped her guitar and just danced along to songs that everybody in the house seemed to know by heart, the show was stupendous. The live "Fingerprints," a throwaway track from "One of the Boys," routed the recorded version -- all because of Perry's innate bubbliness.


© 2009 The Washington Post Company

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