Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Gig review: Katy Perry in London

Who wants to see a Katy Perry concert? Well, nobody I know, which is why I had to endure the embarassment of going to the show alone. I seriously considered writing "not a pervert" across my face in permanent marker (that, or rubbing my legs vigorously and keeping a tiny corner of the Shepherd's Bush Empire to myself...)

Anyway, it turns out that the Californian 24-year-old has quite a diverse fanbase - from six-year-old girls and their parents to city boys dancing with bottled beers, not to mention the two bus pass-holding pensioners beside me who know every word to I Kissed A Girl.

They're here for the hits and, on all four of them, Perry delivers the goods. She preens, prances, poses and belts out those chunky melodies with all the power her lungs can muster. Hot N' Cold generates the biggest amateur singalong I've seen since Mamma Mia! And Perry rounds the song off by fly-kicking a guitar out of her guitarist's hands. Amazing.

That karate moment comes three songs into the set and, sadly, its all downhill from there. Perry's album tracks are weak and her voice too-often veers towards the "screeching brakes" side of shrill. Pointless cabaret cover versions of Please Mr Postman and Build Me Up Buttercup do nothing to raise the quality threshhold.

Weirdly, some of the best bits come in between the songs, as the singer exhibits her cheerily deranged personality. She goes off on weird tangents about ex-boyfriends and Beyonce, who she saw at the O2 on Monday. "I had no respect for Beyonce until last night," she blurts out. "I mean, I respected her... But I didn't know how much I respected her until I saw the show." Then she bats her eyelashes and sighs, "I'm a horrible public speaker".

The most inpspired comedic moment comes at the end of Ur So Gay, when the star breaks down the music and apologises to the children in the audience. "I realise a lot of you have come here with your parents, and now you're sitting next to them, so this moment is going to be awkward and uncomfortable. But we're at the last word of the song and I have to sing it... All together now: 'PENIS!'"

After sitting through charisma black hole that was Britney's show last week, Perry was a breath of fresh pop air. Plus, she had plugged her microphone in (although there was an obvious 'guide vocal' running through I Kissed A Girl). And she played guitar. And her costumes were better.

Now all she has to do is work on the songs.

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