Pop review: Katy Perry, Water Rats, London

Water Rats, London

Katy Perry has found the best way to ensure her debut UK gig is a sellout. Although she has had the No 1 single for the past five weeks, she is not playing an arena or theatre, but the tiny Water Rats pub. Two hundred people have crammed in, while others forlornly hang around outside, dwarfed by the super-sized tour bus parked at the kerb. As they arrive, fans are handed a promotional item in the form of a cherry Chapstick - if you do not get the reference, you obviously have not heard I Kissed a Girl. A chart-topper in 20 countries, it has made playgrounds ring with the refrain, "I kissed a girl and I liked it, the taste of her cherry Chapstick."

Although her ode to pretend lesbianism (it turns out she is a boy-kisser in real life) has made her a household name in the US, Perry does not yet have much to offer as a live performer. A brass-lunged cross between Avril Lavigne and 1980s bawler Pat Benatar, she arrives on stage to the Heart song Barracuda, which, like everything in Perryworld, promises more than it delivers. She is no barracuda, but rather, a game 23-year-old who fills a pair of hotpants prettily and belts out the tunes loudly, in the assumption that "loud" equals "ballsy".

Her scripted banter refers to school buses and first dates, but that does not excuse her using the playground insult "Ur so gay" in the song of that name. She has attempted to explain that it was written about a metrosexual former boyfriend and was not intended to be homophobic. But it remains as contentious as her lipstick lesbianism. I Kissed a Girl, inevitably saved until the end, is undoubtedly a fantastic song, and she sings it like a star. But can Perry build the bond that will make her a long-term star rather than a transient starlet?


Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

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