New Young Pony Club's Tour Diary With Katy Perry
, March 24th, 2011 07:20
New Young Pony Club's Ty Bulmer is back with the second instalment of her road diaries of life on tour with Katy Perry - including culture, hangovers and Kanye West
Act Two: Berlin, Frankfurt and Paris.
Berlin is, of course, amazing. We spend our day off trawling through the sexier East side and find an incredible squat bar where the DJ plays Paul Revere and The Outsiders all night long, and the barmaid free pours all the spirits. The audience is a profound improvement on the previous week and the entire proceedings seem galvanized by this new found energy… could just be the jet lag has finally worn off. As we sit down to a well deserved dinner in catering, our post-show reverie is interrupted by the appearance of a slender dark haired man declaiming his way through the canteen, surrounded by an entourage of totally silent onlookers who are hanging on his every word. So Mr Perry has finally rushed to his wife’s side to overlook her pop masterpiece and offer moral support in the face of more video screen-related technical hitches. Sweet.
Day off. Stagger off tour bus and into Holiday Inn; we are on the 18th floor. I feel worthy as I have brought my Tascam audio unit and Sennheiser microphone into the hotel room, with every intention of doing some work. But there it is, temptation! Do I: a) hove into the 30 plus NYPC snippets of backing tracks on my laptop; b) turn my attention to finding exciting acts for my new club night thus dealing with countless not very interested agents/management types via email; or c) go out into the benign warmth of a spring day in Frankfurt on the hunt for entertainment at any price.
Within 40 mins we are promenading along the riverside in Frankfurt, buying all manner of interesting Germanic trinkets. I have found a corkscrew masquerading as a key. Brutal. The others joke that maybe I think it’s the key to the city. Further sauntering in the direction of the OLD TOWN (an area ubiquitous to all European cities – therefore popular with bands and tourists for its promise of quickly digested cultural and gastronomic diversions), brings us to the TOWN SQUARE (see below), where small clumps of husky paternal looking men are standing about laughing loudly and polishing their cannons. It is Carnival, the festival prior to Lent, and a very good excuse for the wearing of quaint anachronistic uniforms and the quaffing of beer. It occasions many surreptitious photo opportunities and fills all concerned with immense satisfaction that we have made it out of the hotel.
Show day. Whatever else you may think of pop mega stardom on this scale, one thing is certain: this stuff is catchy. Not just 'advertising jingle' catchy, but more like 'these tunes will slip inside your head while you are not looking and take up residence there' catchy. Katy Perry and her co writers have produced a top-line MACHINE. 'Teenage Dream', 'California Girls' et al will effectively turn you into a pod person whose every waking moment, while not fully engaged with the world, is spent muttering or humming some portion of one of the 14 songs you hear every night. "Put your hands on me in my skintight jeans, I’ll be your Teenage dream tonight" mumbles/sings sings a hefty-looking middle-aged rigger as he trundles past bearing a huge pink cloud on a trolley. We can all only hope that she will let us have our minds back at the end of the tour.
We play well, apparently to a brick wall composed entirely of people. Frankfurt: you made Zurich look like a stag weekend in Blackpool. It dawns on us that we were perhaps rather spoilt by audience response on our previous support tours with Suede and Lily Allen. Only the Manic Street Preachers audience managed to appear this unimpressed for this length of time. Maybe we are just spoilt altogether as Katy’s backing band, who have watched our show for the first time, pronounce the response one of the best they have witnessed, regaling us with tales of supporting Nine Inch Nails earlier in their careers.
The film crew has disappeared. Katy seems happier and more relaxed on and off stage. Prior to the show there is a massive play fight in the middle of the corridor between the dressing rooms. The show appears to finally have hit its stride. The video projections run in synch. Katy spends at least two minutes meowing/talking in cat at her ban club, the "Katy Cats" in-between slow tracks - and manages not to appear at all barmy while doing it.
Guestlist = Bunfight. There are way too many cool people in Paris.
The venue, the Zenith, another anonymous Enormo-dome in the Parc de la Vilette, appears to have been either built on ley-lines or with its own dark force field as all attempts to leave it and go shopping are thwarted, and we continually end up back at the dressing room. "But how do we get out?" we cry at a security monolith, pointing vigorously at the front doors. He cocks his head, his face blank with incomprehension. "You can’t get out," he says. After another half hour of walking up to gates that don’t open - or in some cases, don’t actually exist - we finally leave. It is tremendously disconcerting to have to learn your way around a new place of work every day.
Playing in Paris is like playing in London or New York... terrifying no matter how many times you do it. The adrenaline surges are so strong we bounce around the dressing room like atoms in a supercollider. But it is brilliant. The audience is responsive and generous, singing along a bit with the songs they do know, clapping and cheering. Here we have fans and some of them are Katy Perry fans, too, and they are in attendance for both of us, which makes us immensely happy. We push ourselves a little further and the set sounds slick and well paced.
If they were good to us then they are uproarious and ecstatic for the main event. Katy, obviously feeding off the elated crowd response, is very chatty and the show amps up yet another level. The cheers and chanting in-between songs is deafening and the Parisians have developed a completely new form of approval where they stamp enthusiastically on the floor, all 6,000 of them at once. 'Firework' has been the highlight of the night, every night, but here it turns into a paean of the triumph of the individual, sung with maniacal joy by all 6,000 of the assembled audience/congregation at their cupcake-festooned high priestess of fun. We are deafened. The hair is standing up all over our bodies. It's undeniably moving to stand in a room full of people all so utterly focused and joyous. There is wailing, but no gnashing of teeth. Our drummer swears blind she saw a guy in a wheelchair spontaneously stand up to pump his fists in the air through the chorus.
We are elated enough to hook up with Holy Ghost, and bludgeon our way into the YSL party. It is, after all, Paris fashion week and a pair of towering heels and a non-nonsense air could potentially get us in anywhere. It is immense, featuring operatic turns from Hercules and Love Affair as well as the diversion of watching Kate Moss flinging herself happily around a cage entirely composed of huge bodyguards. How the other half live.
Very hungover, we rouse ourselves the next morning to the litany of "WEMUSTHAVEFUNWEMUSTHAVEFUN" and toddle blearily in the direction of WomanRay, the Fall/Winter ladieswear collection show offered by debonair French fashion maestro, Jean-Charles de Castalbajac, where we watch little-known rapper Kanye West being utterly ignored by the world’s press as Katy P tries to make a b-line for the backstage area after the show. We are on tour with the most famous person on earth...possibly. Suffice to say we do not make it to the Louvre or Musee de Orsay. That’s quite enough glamour/culture/fun for 24 hours, thanks.
After another superlative show, Katy storms past in a crowd of parents, management and well wishers. She pauses dramatically on the stairs to her dressing room to raise her fists and declaim in our direction, "Tonight we drink!" like a Swarovski bedazzled Valkyrie. Being a true professional, she doesn’t indulge before the show. But by the time she has made it back out of her white muslin clad retreat, our tour bus has spirited us in the direction of Brussels, so there'll be no Perry/Pony party that night...