Katy Perry’s musical career seems in no danger of slowing down, but if the pop superstar ever wants a break she could have a great side career as a concert promoter. The day after she released her new album, Prism, Perry led a hand-picked, all-female bill at the Hollywood Bowl for We Can Survive, a benefit for the breast cancer organization the Young Survival Coalition. The show kicked off with her close friend and songwriter Bonnie McKee and included Kacey Musgraves, Tegan and Sara, Sara Bareilles and Ellie Goulding.
“We love all the women that she picked to play,” Tegan Quin told Rolling Stone.
That sense of camaraderie and enthusiasm was palpable backstage. “I’m so excited, not only to be part of a great cause, but it’s such a cool musical pairing,” Musgraves told Rolling Stone. “There are so many different musical genres coming together today. And me representing country, it feels really good to be here. I really look up to and respect all the women and their songwriting. I think it’s cool that everybody writes their own material and all kind of own their own thing.”
That was evident throughout the more than three-and-a-half-hour show, starting with McKee’s three-song set. The songwriter, who’s penned several of Perry’s Number One hits, showed off her love for all things Eighties with the rock anthem “Hot City.” She closed the set with the pop gem “American Girl.”
Next on the rotating stage was Musgraves, who did her country part with a sterling six-song set highlighted by a rousing singalong of “Follow Your Arrow” and a gorgeous rendition of “Merry Go Round.” Like several other artists on the bill, backstage she admitted having nerves about playing the venerable and massive Bowl. Onstage, she hid them well.
Following Musgraves, Tegan and Sara were up next for a masterfully paced set that found the sisters superbly mixing up slower material with their recent, more upbeat stuff, including their breakthrough pop single “Closer,” the first song of the night to really get the crowd on their feet.
Though Sara Bareilles had what appeared to be the unenviable task of following Tegan and Sara, the singer-songwriter proved to be the surprise of the night. She dominated the Bowl stage and made the crowd go nuts. But whether it was the gorgeous ballad “Gravity” or the enjoyable pop of “Love Song,” Bareilles showed an impressive ease and joy onstage that made her one of the highlights of the night.
The star of the night, though, was Goulding, who showed she is ready to make the next step as a headliner. “Lights” and her new single, “Burn,” were the expected high points, mixing dance and pop with a gleeful energy, while the sing-songy “Anything Can Happen” showed off her pop songwriting side. But the standout was a rousing rave rendition of “Need Your Love,” which set the Bowl off.
After Goulding’s star-making performance, all that was left was the night’s headliner and organizer, who kicked things off with “I Kissed a Girl.” Perry’s pop production created a sharp contrast to the earlier sets, with dancers joining her on the slowed-down beat of “Dark Horse” (which included a guest spot by Juicy J). She included a few new songs, including “Unconditionally” and the big ballad “By the Grace of God.” But on this night it was the intensity of “Part of Me” and pop pleasure of “California Gurls,” “Teenage Dream” and the set-closing “Fireworks” that had fans in ecstasy.
The night ended with all of the women coming together for “Roar.”
“I’ve known lots of women who’ve had breast cancer, so as soon as I found out it was for the Young Survival Coalition I was in,” Quin told us. “I love that Katy is doing that. It’s a very cool, amazing thing that she put together, and she’s raising a lot of awareness for the Young Survival Coalition. I think that’s great.”