Kathleen Brien, also known as the dance-pop sensation Katy B, came to Glasgow on her highly anticipated Little Red tour. Her latest album, widely regarded as a skilful dance record with a heart wrenching story, clearly shows Katy’s emergence as not only a pioneer of contemporary dance, but a talented and maturing musician with a message to put across.
Becky Hill, best known for being on Season 1 of The Voice, yet another talent show notorious for churning out run of the mill singers who release a single and are never heard from again, has perhaps done the best out of her fellow reality show alums. Despite not winning the show, her unique voice has meant that she has had a busy couple of years, performing on a song with Wilkinson, reaching number 1 on Gecko (Overdrive) with Oliver Heldens, and performing with Rudimental at Glastonbury.
Despite throat troubles and an admittedly disappointingly small audience, Becky’s vocal was controlled and impressive, and evidently one of the most distinctive in dance and pop music at the moment. While support acts do not typically enjoy a great deal of audience participation, her more well-known songs, such as Overdrive and Afterglow were received with enthusiasm and some fairly mental shapes being thrown out from the small, but upbeat crowd. While she was evidently slightly discouraged by the size of the crowd, Becky’s vocal remained impressive and her energy boundless; her enthusiasm for performing was evident, even with the various obstacles she faced. Various technical issues broke the flow of the set, but were made up for with her interaction with the audience.
Becky would perhaps benefit from a bigger crowd and a longer set, giving her the time and opportunity to really get into the flow of her set. Her music, while empowering and uplifting at times, and rave-inspiring at others, would benefit from a proper showcase, especially as her voice is impressive and masterful enough to handle a longer set.
As soon as Katy hit the stage, her love for grimy dance and trance music came across. Her pumped up
energy and requests to turn the music up louder made the venue feel like a dirty club in East London with a sticky floor, everything covered in a light dusting of MDMA. 4 black-clad back up dancers grinding their way across the stage behind Katy throughout some of her most up-tempo tracks seemed a little awkward and unnecessary as the overall vibe of the show left no need for any extra embellishment. The best moments of the show where when the lights were flashing, the bass was pounding, and Katy was dancing her way across the stage, eyes closed, enjoying herself, her nights out clubbing until the sun came up a clear influence on her performance. The energy that Katy put out as a result was effervescent. Even the stray, uncomfortable looking parents that had brought their kids along for a night out with their friends couldn’t help themselves from having a dance and getting caught up in the surprising emotional and lyrical depth of Katy’s upbeat and lively music.
Taking a break from the undoubtedly rave-inspired portion of the album, the most moving and vocally elaborate part of the show was when Katy sang a song written about her brother, Andrew Brien, who passed away in September after suffering severe brain damage following an accident 18 months previously. The song, titled ‘Everything’, was not only a pleasant departure from the upbeat nature of the majority of Little Red, but showed off Katy’s vocal ability and emotional depth. The song was evidently difficult to sing, as she sounded close to tears at various points throughout; this only made the song more beautiful, more emotional, and had the crowd enthralled, completely absorbed in Katy’s emotional struggle following her brother’s year and a half long struggle. Her more emotionally driven songs, while a departure from the vibe you would expect from a Katy B concert, not only showed off her vocal ability, but brought a dimension of lyrical depth to the show that excited the audience, making the show as dynamic as possible.
Katy’s set was one that made you feel as if you wanted to go out and party with the woman up on stage. The small, energetic performer made you feel as if she was at a club, and you were dancing and sweating and grinding your teeth along with her all night long. I almost wished I had a sign with me that read ‘Katy, Come to Sub Club’, because her music is so clearly influenced by the grimy R&B, house, and techno that she grew up on, and that certain subcultures in Glasgow thrive off. This is the kind of performer who makes you feel like you’re all at one big rave, partying together, because she genuinely enjoys listening to the kind of music she makes, and because there is such a market for it in Glasgow.
Katy B showed, with this gig, that she was meant to perform in Glasgow; it suits her, her music, and the attitude of the people who listen to it.