B is a huge Katy Perry fan. She squeals every time she hears a Katy Perry song. She knows all the lyrics to most of the songs. She hasn’t asked yet to color her hair neon blue, but I’m thinking it’s just a matter of time.
So it was already a given that when Katy Perry came to Manila on May 7th as part of her Prismatic World Tour, B was going to be in that audience, come hell or high water. The concert was held in the Philippine Arena, supposedly the biggest indoor arena in Southeast Asia. It sat in a huge compound in Bocaue, Bulacan, about an hour’s drive north of Manila.
B and I arrived to a procession of vehicles snaking around the arena, toward the parking lot. As we turned into the lot, a male voice suddenly piped up from inside my bag: “You have arrived at your destination.” I almost ran over a parking attendant in my surprise–I’d forgotten that I’d turned on Waze to navigate us to the arena. The app snoozed the whole time we were on the highway and then decided to scare me out of my seat at the last minute.
There was an hour to kill so B and I strolled through the many hawker stalls scattered in front of the steps to the arena. Katy Perry’s songs played over and over on the speakers, as if to remind everyone who they came to see. One popular table sold overpriced Katy merchandise–T-shirts, trinkets, CDs, etc. Each item cost about 100 percent more than the usual price. But these “special” items had an excuse to charge people “extra” because they bore Katy Perry’s face.
After a dinner of donuts (the Krispy Kreme stall had the shortest queue because apparently, no one else wanted to eat donuts for dinner), we headed up the arena. B was so excited that she resorted to communicating in a series of squeals and tiny hops.
Our seats were close enough to the stage so that we could see the individual highlighted streaks on Katy’s hair…on the giant screen. We shared a row with two other mothers and their tween daughters (one wore a bubblegum pink wig). We must have sat in the most giggly and excited row in the entire arena.
Showtime. The house lights were turned off, the shrieks from the audience shook my eardrums, and Katy and her dancers came on with “Roar,” the first Katy Perry song The One learned by heart. As B looked at me, screaming her joy, her eyes overflowed with so much excitement I thought she would burst. Katy and her crew had on headdresses and costumes (and jump ropes) that lit up in the dark. It was mesmerizing. In fact, throughout the two-hour concert, they went through six costume changes (and not just for Katy but for the entire crew of dancers), a fake horse that moved like a real one, and, in one number, a mouse, a piece of cheese, a carton of milk, and some other strange things I forget, ran around the stage. To say that they put up production numbers would have been an understatement.
My favorite part was when Katy came out in a maxi dress with sunflowers on her boobs. After asking a member of the audience (who wore a perfect replica of Katy’s fish suit in one of her videos) to teach her some Tagalog words, she buckled down and sang “Unconditionally,” the closest to a ballad she could get. But before doing so, she requested that if anyone had a light, to please turn them on. Back when I was a teen, this meant piercing the night sky with lighters. But at Katy’s concert, the lighter-toting parents were drowned out by a sea of millenials and their flashlight apps. The arena instantly turned 10 shades brighter as thousands of people swiped on their lights and, together, brought down the stars from the sky. It must have looked fantastic from the stage. It definitely did from our seats.
About this time, two tall men and a woman arrived and took the seats right in front of us. Unfortunately, one of the men sat directly in front of B. We couldn’t ask him to switch with the others because they were all tall. (I briefly considered asking him to hunch over or just sit on his left buttock, but ultimately decided it would not work.) After about two minutes of this, B told me, “Did you know that if you rub your palms together really fast for a long time, you can get electricity?” While I considered my response to this apparently random thought, B started to furiously rub her hands together. She kept at it through one song. And then suddenly thrust her arms straight in front of her, palms facing forward–kind of like how Ironman does it when he blows someone away, but with two hands. The random thought turned out to be not so random. B was trying to blast the guy in front of her out of his seat with the powerful electricity emanating from her hands.
“Aw, I really thought it would work,” she said. I couldn’t believe her total trust in science (and her apparent disregard for murder). The problem was solved when I explained to Tall Guy that a little girl was sitting behind him and asked him if he could scoot to the left. Thankfully, he understood, scooted over, and B was able to enjoy the rest of the concert without a totem pole in the way. She started the concert just singing along in her seat, squealing every now and then. She ended it standing, dancing, and waving her hands in the air like she just did not care.
Katy Perry was a fun choice for B’s first concert. While Katy could have done more research on the country she was visiting and its people’s mastery of English (at one point, she said, “I know some of you can’t understand what I’m saying right now,” because she was speaking in English), she did deliver a heck of an impressive concert (says someone who watches concerts once every seven years).
B has already called dibs on the next Katy Perry concert, whenever that will be. And when I buy the tickets to that one, I’ll remember to ask the ticket seller not to give the seat in front of B to any tall person. Lest they get blasted out of their seat with electricity.