COSMO GODFREE: Feels alienated from the critically aclaimed musician.
Friday 28th October, The Corn Exchange, £14.50
Katy B does a damn good job of bridging the gap between the charts and the underground. With all her links to (previously-pirate) urban radio station Rinse FM (whose huge logo blazes out at us from a screen) people seem to have forgotten that she?s also a graduate of that self-congratulatory, occasionally vomit-inducing battery-hen pop factory, the BRIT school. Ahem.
A quick Wikipedia search reveals a couple of other artists who seem to have survived that particular institution with their credibility intact (and they clearly like to keep quiet about their attendance), but Katy B is definitely the exception rather than the rule when it comes to great alumni. You have to give it to her – she?s put out an incredible run of singles this year, and if we have the BRIT school to thank for her pop nous, then thank them we must, as Katy?s album ?On a Mission? is easily the best debut this year to properly break into the mainstream.
Tonight, it?s the singles that really stand out – Katy on a Mission starts with a huge drumbeat, and swiftly moves into that ?oooh oh oooh oh? chorus. The storytelling vibe of Easy Please Me is still absolutely massive, and also one of the darker songs, sounding like a more anthemic take on The Streets? first album.
Katy B – Katy on a Mission
Some of the other album tracks fare well too. Power On Me is easily Katy?s most soulful vocal turn, and in spite of its incongruous trumpet blasts, Hard To Get creates the sexiest mood of the night. A lot of credit should go to the drummer, who really helps these songs come alive onstage.
Unfortunately, even though this is her second full UK tour, Katy?s stage presence is still pretty undeveloped. It?s not awkward by any means, and she looks as though she?s having a great time, but some of the less well-known songs suffer when they could easily have been improved by a more confident frontwoman. The backing singers are, well, not very good at also being backing dancers, and their main contribution to the setup seems to be the fake California smiles seemingly pasted on over their faces.
Katy B – Movement
‘How we meant to move if there?s no movement?’ comes the line in Movement. So come on Katy, set us a good example then! I guess it doesn?t really help when that particular song sounds suspiciously like elevator musak. Katy even does that tired rock staple of ?introducing the band?, and there?s way too much space between songs filled with rubbish audience banter.
This wasn?t a bad gig at all – overall I enjoyed it, and there were loads of moments where I was genuinely surprised at how well the songs came across. It?s just that this is supposed to be music you can dance to as well as sing along. If the crowd knew that, then they certainly weren?t letting on, and neither was Katy.