Tonight’s We Can Survive concert at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl ended with a bang — literally. After all, Katy Perry singing “Firework” without a little pyro ain’t how she rolls — and this show was all about Perry’s prerogative.
The all-female bill was as wide-ranging into all corners of pop as Perry’s latest effort, Prism, out this week. So not only was the benefit concert Perry’s creation, it also served as a celebration of all things Prism and lady power. Thrown by Radio.com and our L.A. station AMP Radio 97.1, We Can Survive raised funds for the Young Survival Coalition, an organization supporting young women battling breast cancer.
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Given the cause, there was a certain emotional energy in the air, as each artist — Ellie Goulding, Sara Bareilles, Kacey Musgraves, Tegan and Sara, Bonnie McKee and Perry — ran through brief back-to-back sets. Perry’s Prism ballads — from “Unconditionally” to “By the Grace of God” — worked well in this context, but it wouldn’t be a Katy show without big pop hits.
Her ability to switch so effortlessly between not only tempos but distinct moods is perhaps Perry’s biggest asset; she’s a million different women in the course of one night, yet when she opens her mouth to address the crowd, there’s no denying there’s a distinct personality behind those relatable hits.
Perry opened her hour-long set with a hard-rocking take on “I Kissed a Girl” to remind folks how far she’s come. Her so-’90s-it’s-practically-a-period-piece performance of “Walking on Air” — a la her sharply choreographed SNL showing last week — went straight into a combined “Teenage Dream” and “California Gurls,” including modified lyrics about “sand in her creepers” to reflect her current style. Still, the real show-stopping moment was literally the moment right before the show stopped — as in, the big finale. Female empowerment cranked to 11, all the performers shared a stage and alternated vocals for “Roar,” some more ferociously than others. Still, none of them some out of place singing the anthem — another testament to Perry, McKee and co. having the ability to offer up songs with universal appeal.