New Young Pony Club's Tour Diary With Katy Perry
, March 15th, 2011 16:43
New Young Pony Club have joined Katy Perry's tour throughout Europe; here, singer Ty Bulmer tells us what it's like in "the fantasy world of dancing gingerbread men and pink fluffy clouds"
Act One: Milan, Zurich, Munich and Vienna
A rude awakening on the first day of the Katy Perry tour, as we are frogmarched from the double decker to a single decker tour bus for apparently no reason whatsoever. Ah, the vicissitudes of being the support band on a mega pop tour...
Venturing into the enormodome where we are playing in Milan, a small army of Italian, US, and UK crew are swarming over a iron framework which will later be transformed into a fantasy world of dancing gingerbread men and pink fluffy clouds.
We have never been on such a massive tour. 80 crew, a full entourage of hair stylists, makeup artists, dressers, PR girls, dancers and a full catering company to fuel it all. As the support band, we are barred from the catering area until dinnertime and so will be subsisting on a diet of sliced white bread, Emmental cheese and wangled cans of Lipton ice tea. The glamour never ends.
Its 3pm. Katy isn’t in the building yet, but word in the corridors of the enormo–dome suggests that she is… As we take a few moments to promenade around the local park with Katy’s effusive warm up DJ, Skeet Skeet, he assures as that Katy is a real tomboy, a very down to earth and natural girl. He used to buy her lunch when she was a struggling and penniless young ingénue. A hint of jealousy then?
But no, Skeet Skeet seems genuinely thrilled at the role reversal.
Our gig passes with the usual plethora of niggling technical hitches, given that it is the first of the tour. The audience is polite but definitely saving themselves for the main event. The monitor mixes are saturated with the backing and the keyboards. The drummer can’t hear the click track. The ancient Emu sampler has died. It doesn’t like traveling. I know how it feels.
Katy is in the building! The show is on. It's slick and pastel coloured; the production team is pumping the smell of candyfloss - or possibly cherry chapstick - into the venue. There is flying steak and sausages. The stage show has a plot, aided by three huge video screens depicting the star journeying through a kitsch and surrealistic alternate reality, al la Wonderland. As an adult watching the show, it appears as a whirlwind of different messages, some furthering her image as a hyper sexualized version of the girl next door. There is innuendo and a knowing comedic burlesque element to the proceedings.
But the line "You make me feel like I’m losing my virginity" seems imbued with a slightly uncomfortable weight when sung to an audience largely made up of girls under the age of 14. So the spectacle is aimed at several difference audiences, one of which will understand the hefty subtext of songs like 'Let Me See Your Peacock' and this rather younger group who are swept away by the girly escapism on offer.
Katy appears to know this section of her audience very well and the kitsch pastel pretty universe of talking cats, happy butcher boys and dresses made of cupcakes, is the perfect environment for the prepubescent girls that makes up the majority of the first four rows.
Day off. We mooch around the Kunsthaus, Zurich’s exceptionally beautiful museum of art for most of the afternoon, until the array of gilt-covered Renaissance altar panels and Jackson Pollacks stop making sense as singular works and becomes a blaze of half remembered colours and ideas. We have successfully achieved CULTURE, a rarity for a band of medium size prestige, and we roll back to the tour bus feeling highly elated.
After a day of getting told off for going within spitting distance of catering before 6pm or not using our environmentally friendly Katy Perry tin water bottles on stage by gruff, put-upon stagehands (we sincerely doubt K - Pez herself has time to monitor our water bottle related activity), it is stage time yet again. We’ve been hanging out on the tour bus that Katy has kindly provided us with, watching Bukowski documentaries and eating two-day-old fruit cobbler. One would have thought that everyone would have been a bit more chilled out today but if anything, the production team seems even more freaked out than they did in Milan. Our audience appears less receptive but thankfully, shouting "Katy Perry" occasionally at them puts them in a better mood.
In the lull between our portion of the show and hers, Katy comes bombing out of her dressing room, camera crew in tow to say hi. She is petite and has dainty feet, and vast eyelashes. We are – she proclaims – “way nicer than The Only Way is Essex”. We are charmed. We make an effort to watch the middle portion of the show…the slow bit. Happily, it is a revelation as Katy shows her musicianship with credible guitar work and medleys of recent pop hits that demonstrate her gospel choir trained vocal range. This is definitely not an XFactor style career progression. Dues have been paid.
Post show the word on the street/corridor is that despite a rather lackluster response from the Swiss audience, Katy proclaims the whole venture satisfactory despite still struggling with evil jet lag.
On day three the candlyfloss wonderland world of the video screen is jeopardized by technical issues and everything goes very quiet until the production/video managers are seen sloping shame faced from the dressing room having been bawled out by “the Boss” for not sorting the situation out after the first show in Lisbon. Positive proof that not even vast amounts of money and manpower can prevent the Gods of Technology from stabbing you in the back now and then...