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).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
A waxwork of Jane Austen has been unveiled at The Jane Austen Centre in Bath

books
Arts and Entertainment
Britney Spears has been caught singing without Auto-Tune

music
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Caral Barat of The Libertines performs on stage at British Summer Time Festival at Hyde Park

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea perform on stage at the Billboard Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Zina Saro-Wiwa

art
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice