Competing with Felix Baumgartner at a parachuting event is no mean feat, but then again, Katy Perry isn’t your average pop star.
The “Wide Awake” singer decided to enter the closing ceremony of the World Parachuting Championships, at Meydan in Dubai, suspended by a “parachute” which dangled from a wire as she swooped over the surprised crowd. Baumgartner had kept things quieter earlier in the evening when he simply walked onto the stage to congratulate the championship’s medal winners.
“Just thought I’d drop in for a party,” Perry quipped as she landed on stage in a cartoonish leotard with parachutes on her cap sleeves.
She was the headline act at the closing event for a tournament which had brought competitors from all over the world for a week of skydiving above the Palm Jumeirah. Many of the competitors attended the concert, giving the event an international flavour as skydivers from Russia, South Africa, France and Poland danced alongside a sell-out crowd from the UAE.
Perry wasn’t the only highlight of the evening, with another stunning performance from US r’n’b star Usher, who returned to Dubai after a triumphant concert last year to again charm the crowd with his Michael Jackson-style dance moves, spot-on vocals (like Perry, he sang live), and a tracklist that got everyone hot under the collar. In a solid one-and-a-half hour set, he got the crowd going with upbeat hits “Yeah”, “OMG” and the newer “Scream” from his latest album, “Looking For Myself”. Then -- because Usher also likes to take it slow -- he took it down a few notches with his over-18 tracks like “Love In This Club”, “Burn”, “Climax” and “There Goes My Baby”. The Texas-born star also took time out to congratulate the UAE on its 41st anniversary, and thank the rulers, who he said had been treating time to a great time. “That red Ducatti [motorbike] you saw on Shaikh Zayed Road yesterday -- that was me,” adding he and his band members had also gone skydiving.
For Perry, dangling from a wire for enough excitement -- she said she’d been offered a skydive but left it to her band members. For her fans -- and there were many of them, visible in the crowd thanks to their neon pink and blue wigs -- Perry’s set was probably as exciting as a skydive. The singer put on an unforgettable show, full of colour and fun, even if she didn’t have the full set of costume changes and stage fixtures that were featured in her concert movie, “Part Of Me”, released this year. But even without the accoutrements, Perry’s show was probably one of the best this reporter has seen in Dubai in the last few months, with colour, fun and sing-along value. I’ve never seen that many people dancing together at a concert here, although the international audience’s hospitality perks may have had something to do with that.
She sang everything her fans wanted to hear -- including the song that made her famous, “I Kissed A Girl”, which was banned from UAE radio upon its release in 2008 -- and promised them she’d return here on tour. One highlight was what she described as her favourite song, “Firework”, which was Grammy-nominated in 2010; on Wednesday, Perry found out that she’s scored a Grammy nomination for “Wide Awake”, which she also played
. For her young fans -- including some very little ones stayed up late for her show, which began after 10pm -- the best moment of the night must have been her cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”. If you’ve watched “Part Of Me”, you’ll remember that’s when she invites fans on stage to dance with her. She did exactly that, calling one fan back at the end for a mobile phone photo before telling her “now get off my stage”.