“Super Bowl, are you ready to rock?” screamed Seattle Seahawks fan Katy Perry, astride the biggest-ass giant metallic bunraku tiger ever to roam jungle or stadium. Half-time at the tied game, as we’ve been blogging. Black-clad handlers moved the feet of the lumbering but oddly graceful silver creature, looking like the spawn of a Rubik’s cube with Devil-red eyes. This is an in-joke, I suppose, as she had announced beforehand that there would definitely be animals in her show. She loves animals.
Her first Jeremy Scott outfit is tiger flames: a red, yellow and gold swirly top and skirt, and I have no idea how she kept her balance while belting out — what else? — “Roar.”
In the blink of an eye — less than the blink of an eye — less than the blink of an eye, the stage becomes a giant chess board, the dancers are knights and pawns (!) and bishops (!!) and here’s Lenny Kravitz, flinging sticky riffs and dueting with her on “I Kissed A Girl” as Perry, on bended knees, whips his guitar with her jet black pony tail. It’s almost sexy.
There are fireworks, of course, more and more, aided by the flickering lights of thousands in the Phoenix stadium. Then an even faster change and the scene has morphed from jungle to chessboard to the beach, her outfit now primary-color striped skirt and beachball-style breasts. Her dancing companions are blue and white fin-signifying sharks (they’re hilarious), wavy palm trees, staunch surf boards. Cottony clouds float overhead — California dreaming in the Age Of Anime.The sound is so echoically awful it’s impossible not only to hear the words but to make out any music at all. So it’s all really a matter of faith, and camera movements.
Suddenly Lenny is gone and here is Missy Elliott with her posse, all of them, including Katy Perry, in sleek street black with signs around their necks that say Missy, in case there was any doubt. The rap rhythm of “Freak On” is more suited to the occasion because it’s all attitude whatever the content.
Finally, a solo, “Firework,” and Perry is on a tiny platform rising high above the stadium and circling the entire vast staging area. I suppose this is where she’s lip-synching — who can tell.? I get dizzy watching. In the close-ups she never breaks a bead and rarely a smile. Whether her feet are on the ground or she’s a mile high, it’s all at the same volume, all sexless and, lip-synching or not, shockingly, pyrotechnically canned. The giant tiger was the most human thing in the show. And quick as that — quicker than any other Super Bowl halftime show has ever felt — it was over.