Katy Perry, Motorpoint Arena, Sheffield
Brett Anderson, Club Academy, Manchester

Who is Katy Perry? And do we really care?

She's a strange one, Katy Perry. But not quite strange enough.

In an already crowded marketplace for pop divas, carving out a unique selling point isn't easy. Gaga's already flying the freak flag. Ke$ha's inherited the skanky trash throne vacated by Aguilera, and Miley Cyrus has the parentally approved Disney-pop angle sewn up. Perry chooses the only remaining option: a little bit from each. Her shtick is the Conflicted Christian – the good girl with an edge of bad, and a smattering of mild controversy.

The California Dreams tour is a twee baby-doll nightmare, from the Wizard of Oz/Alice-inspired film interludes to the dress made of revolving lollipop heads to the marshmallow cloud on which Perry floats over our heads. Candy pink is the signature colour. You feel your teeth starting to decay just looking at it.

The goody-two-shoes flavour kicks in with song one, line one: "You think I'm pretty without any make-up", and the sick bucket is also needed for the next number, "Hummingbird Heart", in which she coos, "You make me feel like I'm losing my virginity/ The first time, every time when you touch me". The "Like a Virgin" steal isn't accidental, although Perry's closer to the spirit of Madonna's "True Blue" era.

The naughtiness in what she describes as a "PG13 show" manifests itself with the scene in which she eats a giant hash brownie and pretends to be stoned, the sledgehammer pun "I wanna see your pea ... cock-cock-cock", and ye olde "I've got a little English in me, every other night of the week". (No wonder Russell Brand had to ask the failed gospel starlet to marry him: Perry must be the first girl ever to tell him "Not yet".) And the manufactured controversy, meanwhile, is represented by the vile, reactionary "UR So Gay" and the fauxmosexual "I Kissed a Girl".

But it's never long before Katy's Christian values kick in again. There's some Sheffield-specific banter about United and Wednesday, Arctic Monkeys and, er, Billy Elliot, delivered in a truly terrible British accent. There are some astonishing trapeze artists. And there are a load of pop-rock songs in an Eighties Belinda/Benatar style. But strip away the sub-Ciccone conflict between spirituality and sexiness, and we're left with commendable 1950s curves and a powerful but characterless voice. In 10 years, we'll look back and wonder what the almost-interesting Katy Perry was all about.

Is it silk or is it sweat? Three songs in, and Brett Anderson's shiny back is prompting conjecture. But it doesn't last long. It's sweat, all right.

Last time I saw Anderson on a stage, he was at Brixton Academy with Suede, playing two of the most extraordinary shows of the year. But there's always a danger, when a singer rejoins the band that made them famous, that trying to keep their solo career running in parallel will feel a little after the Lord Mayor's show.

But the experience of a revitalised Suede has clearly fed into Brett's solo career. With tracks such as the stomping Stooges-style "Thin Men Dancing" and such lyrics as "Give me your brittle heart and your ashtray eyes/ I'll give you carpet burns and a slanted life ...", the material from the Dark Rainbows album feels electrified in comparison with previous releases. Ultra-Brett is back. Handsome as Tony Curtis, monitor-mounting, rafter-hanging, a mic lead slung around his neck like a boa, bashing a tambourine and giving it some caveman, he's all teeth and nostrils, a Spitting Image puppet of his pop star self.

By the end, one Mancunian lady's brash heckle of "Get your shirt off!" is redundant: it's barely hanging on by one button anyway.

Next Week:

Simon Price sees Glen Campbell on his final round-up before he hangs up his rhinestones for good

Rock Choice

Nu-folkie Laura Marling continues her tour of Britain's cathedrals with shows at Guildford (Mon); Gloucester (Tue); Norwich (Wed); York Minster (Fri) and Sheffield (Sat). Meanwhile, legendary indie pioneer and psychonaut Julian Cope plays Concorde 2, Brighton (Tue); Komedia, Bath (Wed) and the Fire Station, Bournemouth (Thu).

Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama

TV

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living