Katy Perry and Carly Rae Jepsen brought the sounds and images of the ‘80s—and much more—to Witness: The Tour’s Gila River Arena stop Friday, January 19. The extravagant live show was quite the spectacle, and Perry supported her 2017 album, Witness, both with new and classic songs.
Upon entering the arena, the massive stage hinted at the show’s many moving parts. The backing video screen was shaped like a massive eye, and the stage formed teardrops trailing into the audience.
A former Scottsdale resident, Perry hit the stage after an opening set by Jepsen. The video screen displayed a space-themed film as her band began to play “Witness.” Then, the stage filled with fog, the eye opened and Perry emerged on a floating prop.
Throughout the two-hour set, the complex performance featured a continuously alternating array of dancers, props and backing imagery, and the songs spanned Perry’s career.
For “Roulette,” her second song of the set, large prop dice were moved to the stage, with Perry and her many dancers performing on and around the set pieces. The backdrop featured card-themed visuals. She then performed “Dark Horse” and “Chained to the Rhythm.” During the latter, Perry’s cast of dancers wore TV heads that displayed eyes, a central part of the tour’s imagery.
Perry then left the stage and her band gave way to a more ’80s style. This influence continued for several songs, intermittently returning throughout the set. Leading into an ’80s-tinged rendition of “Teenage Dream,” Perry changed into the second of many outfits that evening while the backdrop featured vaporwave visuals.
She performed a medley of “Hot n Cold” and “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.),” calling “Hot n Cold” “vintage.” She said some fans may not have even been alive for its initial release.
Perry also added giant pink flamingos to her stage production, while she changed into a new digital top that displayed the alternating words “HOT” and “COLD.”
The ’80s vibe continued during “California Gurls,” where the screen featured images of boomboxes and cassette tapes. The song also saw the return of the much-memed Left Shark, much to the crowd’s amusement.
After a skit in which Perry called her mother on a giant red phone, Perry performed “I Kissed a Girl.” “Déjà Vu” and “Tsunami” saw another outfit change, with giant roses placed on the stage.
Large Venus flytrap props and darker imagery were brought to the stage for a more rock-oriented rendition of “E.T.” Then, for the risqué “Bon Appétit,” Perry was showered in salt and pepper by her dancers before the song switched to an ’80s remix and she was consumed by the Venus flytrap.
When Perry returned to the stage, she shimmered in another new outfit and wig for a slowed down section of the evening. It was here where she performed “Wide Awake” and “Thinking of You.” During the latter, planets were suspended from the ceiling while Perry, strapped with a guitar, floated above the crowd.
Aside from the music, however, the evening showed Perry’s admiration for her fans. In the next moment, Perry called a 9-year-old girl and her 16-year-old cousin, who was dressed like Left Shark, to the stage. Upon asking the young girl to make a wish, the 9-year-old wished everyone could be like Perry. When asked for a second wish, she said she wanted to be Perry’s backup singer.
Perry then performed “Power” and “Part of Me,” the latter of which was introduced by an 8-bit music interlude, yet another return to the ‘80s. This moment also featured another outfit change and imagery of Pac-Man.
The performance knew no bounds, however, as she even brought a father to the stage to play basketball with during “Swish Swish.”
After ending the two-hour set with a performance of “Roar,” which began with a sample of Annie’s “It’s the Hard-Knock Life,” Perry re-emerged from a giant hand in another new outfit. For the encore performance of “Firework,” Perry ended the evening with a bang, quite literally. A large array of pyrotechnics signaled the end of the show, and just like that, Perry was lowered back into the hand.
Despite being a long, two-hour set, Perry’s fans—some of whom were young, and some of whom may have been around since her early days—seemed enthusiastic. The crowd roared—no pun intended—with applause, before it exited the packed stadium. While many songs spanned Perry’s long career, the evening was more than just music—it was an experience.
Jepsen’s set was just as enthralling. Dressed in a shimmering disco-themed outfit, which continues the building hype toward her next studio album, much of Jepsen’s set was, however, a throwback to the ’80s sounds explored on her recent works.
The singer performed a selection of cuts from her acclaimed 2015 studio album, E•MO•TION, including the album’s title track and “Gimme Love.” Before “Boy Problems,” Jepsen asked who in the crowd had boy problems, declaring it a song for all who can relate. During the bridge of “Let’s Get Lost,” Jepsen trailed to the back of the stage, singing its lyrics to her soloing saxophonist during the build to the final chorus.
Despite Jepsen’s set being much too short, she concluded with a trio of some of her biggest songs. First was her anthemic 2017 single, “Cut to the Feeling.” Arguably the most crowd-involved moment, however, was the penultimate song, “Call Me Maybe.” One of the most successful singles of the decade, this was this point where Jepsen got many crowd members who weren’t yet convinced dancing and singing along. The set ended with “I Really Like You.”
Setlist – Carly Rae Jepsen
Run Away With Me
Let’s Get Lost
Cut to the Feeling
Call Me Maybe
I Really Like You
Setlist – Katy Perry
Chained to the Rhythm
Medley: Hot n Cold / Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)
I Kissed a Girl
Thinking of You
Part of Me