Ask any London dubstep fan, and they’ll tell you there are two distinct versions of a Katy B gig. The headline shows where she draws heavily on her own material, throwing in the occasional cover, but relying on debut album On A Mission’s pristine beats and slick hooks to enthrall the crowd, and the festival sets. At the latter she’s a different beast, intent on introducing the world to Katy B’s Dance Party. A strange hybrid show, where she indulges in Deejay battles, call and repeat chants, and a unholy number of crowd interaction gimmicks. It’s all good fun, but it lacks the earnestness and intensity of her best performances.
However, at Reading it goes down a treat. The subtleties of “Power On Me” and the honesty of “Easy Please Me” play second fiddle to “Bonker’s” bass drop and a seductive cover of “Sweet Dreams”. The crowd bounces to classic 90s dance and the suitable cataclysmic dub inspired drop that concludes “Niggas In Paris”. Too clever to play second fiddle to her own cheese, Katy B quickly reasserts her London roots singing over DJ Mosca’s garage classic “Bax” on potential hit single “What You Came For”.
The new material does falter however, not because the beats fall flat, but because Katy lacks her incisive lyrical edge. The brilliant set closing trio “Perfect Stranger”, “On A Mission” and “Lights On” are unabashed love letters to music and the thrill of becoming slave to the beat itself. Her new tracks feel generic by comparison, standard slabs of faceless dance. Regardless, Katy’s return to Reading is a huge success, as balloons bounce across the stage the crowd are happy to rave it up alongside post-dubstep’s favourite girl-next-door. David Hayter