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
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
books
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
books
Arts and Entertainment
The man with the golden run: Daniel Craig as James Bond in 'Skyfall'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Waving Seal' by Luke Wilkinson was Highly Commended in the Portraits category

photography
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
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.

    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

    ... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
    Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

    Europe's biggest steampunk convention

    Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

    The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor