Gig Review: Katy Perry, iTunes Festival - the candyfloss era isn't over just yet


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The Independent Culture

The UK's first live glimpse of Katy Perry's third album PRISM comes just two days after the pop princess's fairytale took its darkest turn yet. Echoes of a Billboard interview in which she discussed suicidal thoughts following the end of her short marriage to Russell Brand might be heard reverberating around a venue distinctly free of the candyfloss scent pumped into venues on her kitschorama Teenage Dream tour.

Former cupcake Perry has become adept at drawing publicly and deeply on her love and life turmoils. It's a seasoned pop tactic, but one that fits her particularly well, lending a graphic personal power to the self-helpy survivalist streak that's always been her strongest suit.

Perhaps it's about connectability; more so than, say, Beyonce, you can buy struggle and survival from Perry, an indefatigable trier who made it good on her third shot at a pop career, and whose dancing suggests she'd wade through a lake of blood and berkish comedians to get where she's going.

And that destination is here-to-stay pop maturity. The 90s-toned, hi-NRG house-pop of new track "Walking On Air" is followed by a sharp one-two of "California Gurls" and a ravey "Teenage Dream". Things darken up with second new track "Dark Horse", a dubby, moody thing akin to Rihanna's "Russian Roulette" where our sugarlump-snaffling frisky pop pony attempts to flash a sexy dangerous side with questionable credibility. Tonight's only previously unheard Prism moment, "By The Grace Of God" is a more genuine moment of shade, a darkest-hour piano ballad with hints of early Tori Amos ("Looked in the mirror and decided to stay/I wasn't gonna let love take me out that way").

Perry's never downbeat for long, though. "I need nothing to complete myself," she asserts during "Wide Awake", bending down to face an insufficiently self-valuing fan and bellowing "You know that!" with terrifying motivational vim before erupting confetti up to the ceiling from her hands before everybody’s even finished eating out of them.

She closes with an explosively inspirational double whammy of "Firework" and comeback single "Roar" (a slow-burning slice of genius acclaimed by none other than fellow fallout specialist Stevie Nicks as a feminist anthem). Katy and her dancers do their Rocky routine, punching all their burgeoning self-worth into that fantastically Phoenix-like chorus. Short but sweet set over, Katy hurls her glittering skipping-rope into the crowd and strides off to survive another day, leaving her London adorers to the most empowered Monday night tube ride imaginable.