Katy B at Brixton Academy
Halfway through her high-powered set, Katy B deemed it appropriate to drop a slice of pertinent geographical information: that she used to work in a department store in Brixton as a teenager, just down the road from the Academy. The story continued with recollections of how she was “never really there”, claiming that she was constantly dreaming of becoming a singer. Via the classic BRIT School route and a handful of canny collaborations, Katy B has long been living that dream, and to sign-off her mini mid-set speech she launched into the soulful house grooves of Dreamers, from her recently released third album Honey.
The suitably floaty synths of Dreamers were preceded by what was probably the turning point of the night, a stripped-back version of Go Away from debut album On A Mission. Following some early technical issues and a battle to find her stride, she was free to ease the pace and up the sass in a rendition fleeced of its pounding rhythms until it resembled something more in keeping with the Mariah Carey/Whitney Houston canon than her garage roots. Then with a flick of a Katy B finger the beat dropped and all was forgiven.
Her balladeering served only as a vocal warm-up exercise, as this kind of sickly-sweet indulgence is not the core of Katy B. She is far more salt and pepper than sugary delights, or even far more Salt-N-Pepa than the Sugarbabes. Calm Down, her collaboration with Four Tet and Floating Points, is the conclusion of her penchant for sticky basement-club anthems, sounding every bit as unwashed as you’d expect. It was also the cue for a troupe of dancers to join her on stage as they bounded around under giant disco balls and lasers. It was that kind of a night.
Then came the obvious melee of hits: Lights On (minus Ms Dynamite), new hit Turn the Music Louder (minus Tinie Tempah) and an encore of Katy on a Mission and Perfect Stranger. There was a notable absence of songs from her middle album Little Red, leaving it more a showcase of what made her and what she’s become, which is more or less the same except the Katy B of today no longer has to dream. Her lack of concentration during her Brixton department store days has now been excused. She was right, she belongs on the stage.
Photos: Guifré de Peray
For further information about Katy B and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Turn the Music Louder here: