London singer Katy B is at the type of early-career crossroads that attracts curiosity and cheerleading, the moment when an underground sound rises to the surface and interacts with the rest of the world on its own terms, without cynicism. So it is a wonder to watch young Kathleen Brien, the 22-year-old “veteran” of London’s homegrown dance music scene turn into a mainstream success (in the UK, her album On a Mission charted at #2 on the strength of three Top 10 singles). And this mixture of energies propels Katy’s live performances, including her first live US concert on Tuesday night.
Not every debutant can get a club’s worth of patrons pogoing and shouting along to pretty much every chorus. Then again, few have moved back into a club after spending months headlining festival stages ten times that of the Studio at Webster Hall, which barely fit Katy’s five-piece band plus MC. This she does at every occasion, celebrating movement and its feeling, and the crowd’s adoration of it. Geared up in t-shirts with the logo of Rinse.FM, the London pirate radio station that gave Katy her start, the group gives the two-step-heavy, soca- and dubstep-infected, UK Funky sound a live bounce unexpected for music originally made on computers. It no longer sounds that way, and with horn stabs and a small-kit drum breakdown, you can already hear one possible “next” direction for her.
By then, Katy might be exchanging the trademark jumper she sports for something more traditional and less “street” to match the raven hair, something that helps re-define her. Though one hopes not. It’s this moment now, when old arrangements of new sounds and underground vibes reaching pop heights all came together, that should be Katy B’s glory.
For exclusive photos from Katy B’s Live in NYC performance, check out the gallery below.
Setlist: Louder/Broken Record/Movement/Easy Please Me/Disappear/Go Away/Witches Brew/Perfect Stranger/Why You Always Here/On a Mission/Hard to Get/Lights On