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Originally published July 21, 2011 at 11:10 AM | Page modified July 21, 2011 at 9:35 PM

Concert review

Perky Katy Perry finds sweet spot between rock and R&B

Perky Katy Perry gave fans at her sold-out KeyArena show Wednesday, July 20, her trademark blend of rock and R&B with a touch of sarcasm.

Special to The Seattle Times

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Concert Review | During her sold-out concert Wednesday at KeyArena, Katy Perry brought a hunky guy from the crowd on stage for some theatrical flirting and cheek-kissing, drawing out the moment and making him blush.

It was a move from the world of contemporary R&B — with Perry playing the role of Usher, who did the same thing at KeyArena last year. Following the foreplay was Perry's thumping pop-rock hit "I Kissed a Girl" (2008), which peaked when she ran across the floor and slid like a baseball player underneath her guitarist's legs, while he wailed an electric solo overhead — a move from the '80s hair-metal handbook.

Perry owned the moment like a rock star. In those moments, the crowd might have noticed the way Perry finds a slamming center between rock and R&B. But there probably wasn't that level of analysis going on. And really, it would have been a bummer if there had been. Most of the songs Perry performed were about male heterosexual fantasies played like female independence — depressing, when you think about it.

Nevertheless, Perry put on an entertaining show with a lot of energy. Fireworks exploded, platforms raised and lowered, and the speakers sounded great. Unlike fellow big-budget pop star Britney Spears a few weeks ago at the Tacoma Dome, Perry was alert and full of life, singing loudly and moving freely. She changed costumes more than a dozen times — though the first was the best, a white dress with pinwheels spinning on concealed motors.

She delivered everything with a sarcastic tone that seemed to suggest she was one step ahead of herself. She added jokey flavor to '90s hip-hop dance moves Jennifer Lopez used to do seriously and cartooned Rebecca Black's "Friday," a song famous on the Internet for how bad it is, into an epic acoustic guitar anthem.

Perry's fans — 80 percent female, with lots of kids, but mostly ladies in their 20s and 30s — love laughing with her. She's a greatest-hits parade from their two favorite genres, and makes sarcasm feel like wit.

Andrew Matson blogs about music at matsononmusic. Reach him at

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