Katy Perry opened the United States leg of her world tour looking for “a witness.” She found thousands.
A thick blanket of fog engulfed the almond-shaped stage at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut while the bright-blue iris of a 40-foot-tall eyeball darted around the arena, feeding on the growing energy of 10,000 fans screaming for the 32-year-old songstress.
"Will you be my witness!?" Perry shouted to the crowd as the massive eye-shaped video screen split and the singer entered the venue on a shooting star. "Make some noise!"
Katy Perry’s “Witness: The Tour,” presented by XFINITY, is the culmination of a big dream that started small, and quickly evolved into an 80-date sight and sound spectacle across three continents and 15 countries. Katy’s journey to that night in Uncasville was captured on camera exclusively for XFINITY, and shows the Grammy-nominated recording artist coordinating the design of her stage—“It’s massive!” she exclaims—lighting and costumes, and rehearsing the dance routine for her number-one hit single, “Dark Horse.”
On stage, Perry’s meticulous and dedicated preparation came to life as eight column-like platforms arose from the center of the stage. “Make me your Aphrodite,” Katy sweetly crooned as a pleather-clad pack of dancers in red knee-high boots strutted in rhythm from column to column.
Back at stage level, Perry and her dancers paraded to the end of her grand stage—a catwalk juts into the crowd like a tear dripping from the giant eye–and while confetti rained down upon the crowd, she dramatically peeled off her glittery red sunglasses to gaze upon her kingdom.
“I’m so glad I can finally see you, Connecticut!”
The crowd roared in response, and Katy informed the fans she feeds off their energy. "The more you give me, the more I'm gonna give you!" she exclaimed.
Thematically, the concert is divided into quarters, with recurring outer space symbolism tying the experience together with a dazzling array of stars, planets and assorted out-of-this-world imagery. While the first quarter of Perry's show plays like an intergalactic fever dream complete with giant dice, humanoid playing cards, TV-headed dancers and giant puppet people, the second portion of her set is a uber-crowd-pleasing throwback to past hits such as "Teenage Dream," "Hot N Cold" and "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)."
Dancers flooded the stage in ’80s-flavored costumes, flanked by giant pink flamingos. Katy crossed the arena on her serpentine catwalk, belting “Last Friday Night,” when she spotted something in the crowd and released a cackle that permeated the Mohegan Sun Arena.
Perry pointed at the hilarious distraction several rows up—a young girl dressed like a (much tamer) version of Katy’s Girl Scout character from the “California Gurls” video and holding a light-up flamingo.
The enthusiastic Girl Scout was not the only fan paying homage to Katy’s many music video characters. As I walked the concourse before the concert’s opening act—Noah Cyrus, who follows the tour through November 1—I spotted an entire family (mom, dad and three girls) dressed as “Katy cats,” a “Roar”-themed jungle woman, a nerdy nod to last “Last Friday Night” and at least one “Swish Swish” basketball player.
Throughout the concourse, these costumed fans flocked to the XFINITY “Can I Get a Witness?” photo booths, which will be stationed at each stop on the U.S. leg, to watch an exclusive video message directly from Katy and snap a personalized photo using the tour’s special Snapchat lens.
Perhaps no character was more popular in Uncasville than the infamous “Left Shark,” a costumed character who went viral for his seemingly improvised and uncoordinated dance moves during Katy’s Super Bowl XLIX halftime show.
In fact, Left Shark received his very own entrance, emerging from a trap door in the stage and introduced as “the best dancing shark in all of history.”
"You ready to show what you can do?" Perry asked before giving the notoriously left-finned shark a public shot at redemption. "Tell him he's a bad dancer now, why don't ya," she cracked.
After eight songs of non-stop music, dancing and feel-good fun, Katy took a break to welcome Uncasville to the “Witness: The Tour.”
"Hi, Katy cat," she said, waving to a fan in the first few rows. "Hi, ya'll. How you doing? You doing good? You ready for some fun on a Thursday night? Listen, the last time you saw me and Left Shark was at the Super Bowl, correct? We were on this tour called the 'Prismatic World Tour' right before this one. Did anyone see it?"
The crowd pops in confirmation.
"Yes! Welcome back-new hair, same me. We actually toured for a very long time, and we love getting to see you, getting to meet you, getting to lock eyes with you and see your smiles and take some of your drinks and whatever you wanna give us. But it's a long time, sometimes. And sometimes we get homesick, isn't that correct, Left Shark? I made a promise to my mother that I was gonna call her every single night of the tour, because you always pick up the phone when your mom calls, right?"
Mary Hudson (a.k.a. Mary Perry) is no stranger to occasionally sharing her daughter's spotlight. In July, the longtime minister joined Katy in Paris for the Chanel Haute Couture Fall-Winter fashion show. The duo's preparations were captured on camera exclusively for XFINITY, and fortunately reveal Mrs. Hudson's adorable nickname for her celebrity offspring: "Feather."
When Katy and Left Shark drag a five-foot-tall pink phone onto the “Witness: The Tour” stage in Uncasville and dial a number on the giant video screen, a warm and enthusiastic voice answered the call.
“Hi, Feather!” Mrs. Hudson said, her voice reaching the Mohegan Sun rafters.
"Hi, Mother. That's my nickname. You just said that to thousands of people," Katy joked.
The phone call is 100% live and apparently improvised. And like any good conversation with a parent, the call included health talk and news about relatives-Mrs. Hudson gave Katy an update on Mr. Hudson's recent dental procedure and sent birthday wishes to Katy's 80-year-old uncle who was somewhere in the audience. Katy ended the conversation by telling the audience she's going to sing a song her mom doesn't really like. "Sorry, mom, but I've gotta do it," she said before launching into "I Kissed a Girl."
The third quarter of Perry’s show packs the stage with mammoth roses, human-sized Venus flytraps, alien bugs, ant-like dancers and hidden eyeballs witnessing Katy’s journey through a fantastical wonderland backed by hypnotic tunes like “Déjà Vu,” “Tsunami” and “E.T.”
My favorite moment of the entire show featured moments both beautifully spontaneous and spectacularly planned.
Katy finished a spicy performance of “Bon Appétit” and disappeared backstage for a costume change while a musical interlude accompanied a center-stage acrobat balancing on a glowing orb. As he finished his exciting display of athleticism, eight beautiful, illuminated planets emerged from cocoons concealed in the rafters of the Mohegan Sun Arena. The audience held its collective breath awaiting the singer’s next move, and then … nothing.
"I'm coming!" Katy shouted into a microphone from backstage, and began to provide playful and endearing live commentary on the apparent technical difficulty. "The planet doesn't wanna come down to meet the star."
Moments later, the eyeball video screen split once again to reveal a breathtaking sight—Katy Perry draped in a crystal-covered gown and headdress, floating above the audience on the rings of Saturn with her acoustic guitar in hand.
“Thank you for your patience, and remember, pop stars aren’t perfect,” she joked.
“I love you, Katy!” a fan shouted as she floated by.
“I really like you,” she joked, before conceding: “I love you!”
After a beautiful acoustic rendition of "Think of You"-perhaps the best live performance of any song I've seen at a concert-Perry's planet came to rest on a teardrop stage settled amid the standing-room-only pit on the Mohegan Sun floor. A "shooting star" dropped from the ceiling, and Katy called for a member of the audience to join her in making a wish. The singer first called out to the flamingo-toting Girl Scout she spotted earlier in the night and asked if the youngin' brought any Thin Mint cookies (Katy's affinity for the snack is legendary), before ultimately choosing a girl named Gabriella from a group representing the Boys & Girls Club.
One dollar from every ticket purchased for "Witness: The Tour" goes to support the Boys & Girls Club, which is just one of the many important causes Katy supports throughout the year. While preparing to host the MTV Video Music Awards in August, the singer teamed up with the Make-a-Wish Foundation to make a young fan's dream come true-Katy even joined the girl for photos on the VMAs red carpet.
Katy "Power"-ed her way back to the main stage for an angelic ballad and prepared for the final act of her extraordinary show. "Make some noise of you're a goddess!" she shouted before disappearing for her second-to-last costume change of the night. A video interlude set the tone for an 8-bit videogame-themed finale with flashes of colorfully animated and perfectly pixelated planets, flamingos, Pac-Man, her dog Nugget and, of course, Left Shark.
The all-seeing video screen split once more and revealed Katy perched atop a red "Tron"-inspired motorcycle and clad in a strappy blue uniform and black visor. She twisted, turned and writhed atop the futuristic vehicle while treating the crowd to "Hey Hey Hey"-her favorite song to perform on the tour. She dismounted the slick bike and joined a furry gaggle of dancers for a march down the runway while performing "Part of Me." The high-energy tune came to an end and Perry playfully collapsed onto her back in the center of the arena.
“Are you guys still having fun!?” she ask.
The crowd roared.
“You want me to get up?”
The crowd roared again.
Miraculously rejuvenated by the Uncasville crowd’s energy, Perry popped to her feet and jogged back to the main stage where the floor becomes dominated by a massive basketball net and backboard. Katy bravely bare-handed a cable dangling from the Mohegan Sun ceiling and was instantly yanked into the air before she settled into a perch atop the formidable rim. The daredevil diva sang the first verse of her hit “Witness” single “Swish Swish” as dancers in netted caps and orange jumpsuits dribbled oversized basketballs below her. And then—“swish, swish, bish”—the singer dunked herself through the center of the giant hoop. “Another one in the basket.”
Like her performance of “Swish Swish” at the VMAs, as well as a rendition captured exclusively for XFINITY in Australia, the “Witness” tour production of this popular tune was larger-than-life, yet extremely clever in the tiniest details.
“Karma’s not a liar … she keeps receipts,” Katy sang as confetti rained down upon the audience. But this was no ordinary confetti, and fans should pay close attention to those pieces of paper falling from the sky.
"Swish Swish" came to a close, the basketball hoop receded into backstage darkness and all sports equipment is cleared from the floor as a familiar piano note from "It's a Hard Knock Life" loads the next big hit. "Are you ready to rock!?" Perry shouts. "Get up on your feet! This is the moment you've been waiting for!"
One last time, the eye-shaped video screen cracked to reveal the house-sized head of a ferocious lion. With a fiery glowing gaze and gnarly fangs, the feline Queen of the Jungle loomed high above the beloved California Gurl as she brought down the house with her empowering Grammy-nominated pop anthem "Roar." In the song's waning moments, the incredible troupe of dancers took a well-deserved bow and Katy thrusted her fist into the sky as she disappeared into the floorboards of her epic stage.
But Katy Perry had one more surprise in store for Uncasville, Connecticut—an explosive and unforgettable encore to the big dream that has been ultimately realized in one of music’s most entertaining spectacles.
And to get the scoop on that, you’ll have to see the show for yourself.
Because Katy's looking for a witness. Will you be her witness?
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