© The Financial Times Ltd 2013 FT and 'Financial Times' are trademarks of The Financial Times Ltd.
October 1, 2013 5:12 pm
The last time Katy Perry played London the stage was decorated with pink candy floss and giant lollipops, a sickly odour of sweets was pumped around the venue and her outfits included a frock made of cupcakes. But the sugar rush has led to a crash. Two years later our fairytale American heroine has made the unwelcome discovery that her Prince Charming was actually a dastardly English rake. Nothing can cause the scales to fall from a girl’s eyes like marriage to Russell Brand.
Perry’s show at the Roundhouse was devoid of sweetness. Instead she channelled her anger at her comedian ex-husband Brand into a fast-paced and highly entertaining spectacle. It made for an intriguingly symmetrical ending to the star-laden iTunes festival, which began a month ago with Perry’s A-list peer Lady Gaga crafting her own self-empowerment message out of revelations of childhood trauma and insecurities.
Gaga and Perry are at a similar phase of their careers. Both have albums coming out this autumn; both face the challenge of developing a more adult stage persona as they approach their 30s. On the basis of Monday’s show, Perry – second only to Justin Bieber in terms of Twitter followers, with 44m to her name; Gaga has 40m – is the more likely to succeed.
She opened with a song from the forthcoming Prism. “Walking on Air” restyled the singer from bubblegum pop star into full-voiced dance-pop diva – wind machines set to maximum, Perry doing her best not to invest lyrics about a night of sensational sex with her usual end-of-pier sauciness. It was a game effort but not completely convincing, unlike the superb transformation of her 2008 teen-pop hit “I Kissed a Girl”, tonight rendered as fierce electropop, sung by Perry in a dark Elvira-style bodysuit: no more primary colours.
New song “Dark Horse” successfully introduced a novel note of futuristic R&B to her music; then came the Brand kiss-off “Part of Me” – Perry marching to the front of the stage in time to a vibrant beat and raising her finger (“You can keep your diamond ring”) in front of a thicket of camera phones.
The piano ballad “By the Grace of God” switched to vulnerability, a mode at which the forceful-voiced Perry sounded less comfortable. But there was no gainsaying the vibrancy of the finale, her recent number one “Roar” – a magnificent self-affirmation anthem, performed in a boxing ring and ending with Perry surrounded by her gang of backing dancers, a fantasy of a certain long-haired funnyman lying prostrate at her feet.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2013. You may share using our article tools.
Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.