Katy Perry – review

Roundhouse, London
A bold and brave performance from Perry includes heartfelt ballad By the Grace of God, about her marriage breakup, and signals a distinctive move from her Technicolor pop past

As a piano plays mournfully beside her, Katy Perry is dressed in black and singing a song about suicide. It's not what you expect from a pop star famous for her cartoonish style and bouncy hymns to self-empowerment. But with, as Perry points out, "thousands of people tuning in online" for the last night of the iTunes festival, what better time to reveal a reinvention?

Gone are the candy coloured hair and playfully provocative costumes of 2010's hugely successful Teenage Dream. It's not the au naturel, ethereal look of the soon-to-be-released follow-up Prism that Perry debuts, however, but a very Camden Town combination of safety-pin adorned leather leotard, tartan miniskirt and boots; her bunched wavy hair finishes off the schoolgirl grunge look. Her powerful voice is hard-edged and has never sounded better, avenging on Part of Me, almost vindictive and wrapped in stuttering guitar on I Kissed a Girl.

But the geek-turned-rock chick is just one of the facets of what Perry calls her "Prism preview". Walking On Air is a homage to 90s rave that has Perry and her eight backing dancers striking poses with a white sheet and a wind machine, before she asks permission "to get a bit down and dirty", on the brooding, hip-hop-flavoured Dark Horse.

But it's the startling piano ballad By the Grace of God – played here for the first time – that shows how far Perry's moved from her Technicolor past. Joined centre stage by two backing singers, she details how the collapse of her marriage to Russell Brand left her her contemplating the end. "Looked in the mirror and decided to stay," she sings, her voice growing from heartbroken whisper to soulful rebuke, "wasn't gonna let love take me out that way."

It's a bold and brave move from the queen of perky innuendo, who seems relieved to get back on familiar ground with the confetti-sprinkled Wide Awake and spine-tingling singalong Fireworks. She ends her all-too-brief, 45-minute set with the gloriously bombastic, recent No 1 Roar, Perry's huge smile and the crowd's ecstatic reaction proof that she's done with blue wigs and foam guns for good.

• Did you catch this show – or any other recently? Tell us about it using #gdnreview


Betty Clarke

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Katy Perry – review
The cheeky alternative to Lady Gaga and Rihanna snuck a few mildly risque moments into her sugar rush of a set, says Caroline Sullivan

Caroline Sullivan

18, Mar, 2011 @9:29 PM

Pop review: Katy Perry, Water Rats, London

Water Rats, London
Perry does not yet have much to offer as a live performer, says Caroline Sullivan

Caroline Sullivan

12, Sep, 2008 @11:01 PM

Article image
Katy Perry: Teenage Dream | CD review

Katy Perry succumbs to a nasty case of in-your-face innuendo, says Kitty Empire

Kitty Empire

21, Aug, 2010 @11:03 PM

Article image
Katy Perry: 'You have to bust your ass at this'

She swears like a sailor, poses naked and now she's engaged to bad boy Russell Brand. How did a nice Christian girl like Katy Perry turn out like this? Tom Shone finds out

Tom Shone

06, Aug, 2010 @11:02 PM

Article image
Katy Perry: Prism – review

Katy Perry's latest album is her most spiritual to date, so it is claimed – but it's still mostly just songs about having it off, finds Alexis Petridis

Alexis Petridis

17, Oct, 2013 @2:29 PM

Katy Perry wants to go folk acoustic – in style of Joni Mitchell

Bubbly pop singer has folk aspirations for next disc after new album Prism, writes Sean Michaels

Sean Michaels

01, Oct, 2013 @11:12 AM

Article image
Katy B – review

London's dance-music doyenne unveils a euphoric new set that sounds exactly the way a great night out clubbing can feel, writes Ian Gittins

Ian Gittins

02, Oct, 2013 @12:41 PM

Article image
David Lynch and Katy Perry promote meditation with Carnegie Hall event
Transcendental meditation has been a hit for six decades with celebrities like Jerry Seinfeld and the Beatles, but the high cost makes some people skeptical

Rose Hackman in New York

04, Nov, 2015 @8:21 PM

Article image
Justin Bieber; Katy Perry – review
Justin Bieber is proficient, Katy Perry a born performer, writes Kitty Empire

Kitty Empire

20, Mar, 2011 @12:05 AM

Article image
Katy Perry: Witness review – edgy, new-look Perry keeps melodic flair

Hannah J Davies

08, Jun, 2017 @9:15 PM