Katy B, Academy, Manchester
Death From Above 1979, Forum, London

Wondering who's going to emerge as the voice of 2011? Look no further than the Peckham Princess

It probably isn't meant as a Dadaist prank, but it works as one.

There's a moment during the biggest night of Katy B's first headlining tour when the Peckham princess gets 2,000 Mancunians to raise one open-palmed hand, and chant the words "Something, something, something" over and over in unison.

Katy B's got Manchester, and most of Britain, in her own palm. With the minimum of fuss, the Titian-haired 22-year-old has outflanked all the hype-monkeys to become the coolest crossover star of 2011. If her debut Katy on a Mission isn't the best pop album of the year, it's gonna take something incredible to beat it.

You could make a fool of yourself trying to describe Katy B's sound, especially if you're not switched on to the micro-divisions of British urban music. But purists can argue all night about whether she's technically a dubstep artist or a UK garage one, or whether she's "sold out" by going mainstream with it. The one certain thing is that Katy B is doing something with all that stuff that hasn't been done since Mike Skinner on Original Pirate Material, namely, using it to communicate the life-experience of the people who, overwhelmingly, buy that music – young, white, working-class – back to them.

Not that she's anyone's Vicky Pollard. The "Peckham" thing is a smokescreen: Kathleen Brien studied at Haberdashers' Aske's before enrolling at the Brit School, and completed a degree in Popular Music at Goldsmiths. The romantic in me wants to deny that being good at pop is something you can study or coach, but there's no denying that Katy B knows exactly what she's doing.

Everything about Ms B is under-stated. As the song "Disappear" suggests, she's not wholly there. Her persona is one of cool, La Gioconda-like enigma. Visually, she's the anti-Gaga: bounding around the stage in a zipped-up long-sleeved sweat top and jeans.

Pleasingly, while she owns one hell of a voice, she always sings within herself, resisting the temptation to go all Xtina-at-the-Superbowl. There's a certain jazzy inflection in songs like "Why You Always Here" which suggests that, were she around in 1944, she'd have been the "canary" in front of a big band with monogrammed music stands, probably led by someone called Tommy or Benny.

The sound she's created, with the help of Rinse FM main man Geeneus, contains a heavy helping of the classier Nineties rave: Electribe 101, Nightcrawlers, Inner City, Baby D. It's all about subtlety, suspended and diminished chords, and nocturnal atmospherics. One suspects that Katy B is the female pop star for whom 2011 will be remembered. Hold your hand up and admit it: she's got something, something, something.

As time's ever-decreasing spiral speeds to a dizzying whirr, we're at the point where the reformation of a band who split up five years ago is cause for near-hysteria. Canadian noiseniks Death From Above 1979 perform tonight in front of a backdrop featuring a painted tombstone with the inscription "DFA 1979: 2001-2006". The duo of bassist-keyboardist Jesse Keeler and drummer-singer Sebastien Grainger have been absent for the kind of interval which might have you wondering: "Hmm, what's keeping them?" There are items in my fridge that have been there longer than 2006.

But, playing London, they've sold out two nights at the Forum in 20 minutes. Without a break, they'd probably be playing Dingwall's. Skinny-jeaned legs apart, pulling rock-god poses, Keeler knocks out irresistible scuzz-riffs, while singing drummer Grainger pummels impatient 2/2 rhythms atop his riser like a Grand National winner whipping his steed home. It's very metal – think early Eightes Maiden, and late Seventies Sabbath – albeit a gateway drug for indie kids. It's also, strangely, incredibly well-attuned to the dancefloor. And London can't get enough of it. In years to come, Death From Above 1979 will be cited as a textbook example of demand-management: if you want people to miss you, go away ... but not for too long.

Next Week:

Simon Price watches Brighton, er, rock at The Great Escape

Rock Choice

Annual seaside convention The Great Escape takes over Brighton this week (Thu, Fri, Sat), with DJ Shadow, Friendly Fires and Sufjan Stevens headlining a jam-packed schedule. The Monkees celebrate their 45th anniversary with a UK tour opening at the Echo Arena, Liverpool (Thu), Apollo, Manchester (Fri), and City Hall, Newcastle (Sat).

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas