Gig review: Katy B

Peckham born Katy B. Picture: Greg Macvean
Peckham born Katy B. Picture: Greg Macvean
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ON THE face of it Katy B (her full name is Kathleen Brien, which is a far less useful handle for splashing across her stage backdrop in 30-foot high letters) is yet another well-schooled, earnest but cynical attempt at fashioning a pop star via pedigree rather than passion.

Katy B

ABC, Glasgow

****

Yet Katy combines both: born in Peckham and educated at the BRIT School and Goldsmiths, her career has been guided not by a major label looking to mould the new Jessie J or Paloma Faith, but by hugely successful underground London radio station Rinse, the home of dubstep.

So she’s crossover success and sound of the streets all at once. For all its flash and glitter, there’s also something endearingly unstaged about her show, as if she’s captured the essence of a community hall rave and transmitted it to a stage filled with a forest of neon tubes and energetic synchronised dancers.

Katy herself is eager but natural, her flowing red hair tumbling over a simple lacy black dress, and she seems to genuinely revel in some of the more vigorous dancing to a backing which is part dubstep, part EDM, but all filled with precision melodies and great pop hooks.

Aside from a fallow passage of sadly obligatory balladeering tracks towards the middle of the set (Crying For No Reason is a heart-clutching stand-out here), her music is rough-edged and compelling, from the clubby bounce of Hot Like Fire, 5AM and a snippet of Baby D’s Let Me Be Your Fantasy to the deep, focused groove of Katy On a Mission and the effervescent club grind of Perfect Stranger and Lights On.

Seen on 28.10.14

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