Big Audio Dynamite, Rock City, Nottingham
Eliza Doolittle, Pyramids Centre, Portsmouth

Mick Jones and Don Letts might be enjoying their reunion, but they make 1986 seem like a very long time ago

If an era can be defined by its artefacts, then in fashion terms the mid-Eighties were all about the MA-1.

A silky black USAF bomber jacket, this briefly de rigueur item was the blank canvas upon which the wearer – if the wearer was a switched-on, Face-reading B-boy – would affix all manner of cultural debris and detritus, usually to make some sort of point using irony or playful juxtaposition.

I bought into it, big-style. My own MA-1 was festooned with partially melted plastic soldiers, Soviet medals, safety-pinned condom wrappers (ooh, edgy statement on Aids panic), a small Volkswagen roundel (in honour of The Beastie Boys), a Def Jam patch to show love for the label that was pioneering the rap-rock crossover ... and, of course, a lurid yellow button-badge with a cartoon crown perched at a jaunty angle atop the letters B.A.D.

Because if one band encapsulated the magpie zeitgeist of 1986-87, it was Big Audio Dynamite. Mick Jones had previous form for punk-funk cross-pollination in The Clash ("The Magnificent Seven", "This Is Radio Clash"), but when he formed B.A.D. with director-DJ Don Letts, he brought the concept to a generation who barely cared who The Clash were.

So, they served a historic purpose. But why reactivate them now? After all, they've dated very badly. They started well enough. Debut flop single "The Bottom Line" mashed Melle Mel's "White Lines" bassline and Cossack hey-hey-heys straight out of Boney M's "Rasputin", with an old film clip of someone saying "The horses are on the track", and it all felt very futuristic. But it quickly ran out of steam, and by sub-"Guns of Brixton" reggae number "Sightsee MC" they were reduced to sampling newspaper sellers shouting "Standaaard!".

In retrospect, those beatboxes are sounding toytown, and the movie samples ham-fisted. And the lyrics? Optimistic call to arms "C'Mon Every Beatbox" rhymed "all the kids from across the nation" with "get your digital watches in synchronisation". Even their pun-tastic abbreviated name reeks of the time. (You see, younger readers, "bad" used to mean "good".) So, why bother?

Well, for one thing, it looks like they're having a blast up there. Jones, with his comb-over, casual suit and expensive shades, looking very Leonard Rossiter/ Campari ad, grinning like mad at the realisation that people still know the words to "V Thirteen", leading a Nottingham-friendly chant of the "Robin Hood, Robin Hood" song and dubbing him "the original gangsta terrorist", and Letts relishing his rap interludes.

And for all the clunky shortcomings of their Eighties recordings, the live versions achieve some sort of alchemy, particularly on a fantastic "Medicine Show" and a sublime "E=MC2".

Fair enough, then. But if all the old punk icons are resurrecting their second bands, let's have The Style Council next, shall we?

Eliza Doolittle's on-stage backdrop is dominated by two pairs of cut-out stockinged legs, each ending in a pair of Nike rollerskates. Call me a moaning old lefty killjoy, but this instantly sets me against her.

Maybe, for Eliza, the Nike swoosh doesn't still carry the stigma of small children working their fingers to the bone for peanuts in a Vietnamese sweatshop. Maybe the 22-year-old is too young to know. Maybe she simply ain't bovvered.

Until now, Doolittle had been a guilty pleasure of mine. I knew it was wrong. I knew that her absurdly privileged background – the granddaughter of stage school supremo Sylvia Young – meant I should reject her out of hand. But "Pack Up", a jubilant concoction of ragtime jazz, vintage ska and jump-blues (which describes pretty much all her material), wormed its way into my brain. It's the sound of being carefree, which is easy to carry off when, well, you don't care.

I could even smile indulgently when she sings of "turning up the music just to block out the sirens" while knowing she's never lived anywhere that the emergency services weren't outnumbered by Ocado delivery vans.

I could just about turn a deaf ear when Doolittle, all but immobile in Daisy Dukes, polka dots and corkscrew curls, disingenuously stares out at the kiddies and parents and says, "This is weird for me...", like the path to success wasn't always smoothed before her from birth.

But the rollerskates tip me over the edge, especially when Doolittle dedicates a song to a three-year-old. In another country, that toddler could look forward to a childhood of sunlight deprivation from making goods for people like Eliza. I'm still thinking about it when she plays the hit, and her backing singer implores us to "pack up your troubles in your old kitbag and bury them beneath the sea". But who stitched that kitbag, Eliza? Who stitched it?

Next Week:

Simon goes on the Adkins diet as Adele launches her UK tour, and drinks the Kool-Aid with the Jim Jones Revue

Rock Choice

Adele rides her wave of popularity with a tour starting at Leeds Academy (Thu); Glasgow ABC (Fri); and onwards into next week. Swedish nutter Lykke Li brings her inspired mix of electro-pop and DIY indie weirdness to Bristol's Trinity (Tue), London's Shepherd's Bush Empire (Thu), and Leeds Cockpit (Fri) in a short UK tour.

Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

    The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

    How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
    Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

    Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

    Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
    Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

    Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

    The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor