Bow Wow Wow, The Brook, Southampton / Daniel Johnston, St Bartholemew's Church, Brighton

Bow Wow Wow's return after 30 years is unexpectedly life-affirming, while Daniel Johnston's honesty has 'em snivelling in the aisles

A bit of side-boob, that's all it was. But in 1981, it was enough to cause a scandal. When Malcolm McLaren persuaded 14-year-old Annabella Lwin to pose nude with her Bow Wow Wow bandmates to recreate Edouard Manet's Le déjeuner sur l'herbe for an album cover, he knew which buttons he was pushing. When Lwin's mother got Scotland Yard involved, causing the sleeve to be banned in Britain and America, the master manipulator must have rubbed his hands with glee.

It wasn't long, however, before Bow Wow Wow transcended this early mis-start, went renegade and took on a life of their own, becoming a genuinely thrilling post-punk pop group. At McLaren's instigation, Bow Wow Wow had incorporated Burundi drumming into their sound. In this, they were not unusual, but nobody took it to quite the extreme that Bow Wow Wow did on their thunderous debut single “C30, C60, C90 Go!”, a gleefully subversive hymn to the joys of home taping.

Part of the reason for their absence from the critical radar is that Lwin herself has spent most of the intervening decades living in California. On the opening night of Bow Wow Wow's first UK tour in 30 years, an initially nervous Lwin, ever the modern primitive in her Native American squaw boots, is full of humbled gratitude that anyone still cares.

It isn't long before she gets into her stride. It helps that Lwin is a good 10 years younger than most of her post-punk peers. By “Louis Quatorze”, a song about underage sex that had McLaren's fingers all over it (“I'm just 14!”), she has whipped off her Foreign Legion desert hat off her ribbon-plaited hair so we can see those gold-painted Cleopatra eyes, and is leaping around, getting us all to go “Woo!” (you can tell she's been living in America), acting out songs with mock-shock face and plenty of hand-mimes.

With the help of original bassist Leigh Gorman, Everclear drummer Sean Winchester and, heroically playing the role of the late Matthew Ashman, Rachel Stamp guitarist Will Crewdson, Lwin delivers one of the most life-affirming, smile-inducing performances I've seen all year.

Top 10 singles “Go Wild in the Country” and “I Want Candy” are inevitably saved till last, but there's life beyond the hits: particularly outstanding tonight are the whoop-along “Uomo Sex Al Apache”, and “Aphrodisiac”, from their flop third (and final) album When the Going Gets Tough the Tough Get Going. But “C30 C60 C90 Go!” is simply astounding, and newly relevant in the age of internet piracy. Lwin knows it, changing the lyrics “I tape them all” to “I download them all”. And a line so improbable that it's missing from most internet lyric transcriptions – “I got the affirmative magnolia, man!” – really is how it goes. I lip-read. And I asked.

Daniel Johnston is perhaps the most sacred of Outsider Musician cows. His cult status was assured as soon as Kurt Cobain took to wearing a T-shirt of his Hi, How Are You? album, but there's real substance behind the claims made for his greatness.

There's a lot of romantic and sentimental hogwash talked about artists with mental illness, and Johnston gets more of it than most – he suffers from schizophrenia and depression. But his condition does seem directly connected to what is engaging about his art: what people love about his lo-fi indie-folk songs is the apparent lack of guile, an honesty which isn't brutal but, seemingly, natural and, in the best possible way, ingenuous.

Taking to the stage of Brighton's St Bartholomew's church, alone for the first three songs, the pick of them being “There Is a Sense of Humour Way Beyond Friendship”, he's a rotund, shabby figure in a grey sweater and jogging bottoms, reluctant to meet the audience's gaze, until he is joined by his ad-hoc backing band Texan Sea Power, aka local residents British Sea Power minus guitarist Noble. BSP – sorry, TSP – accompany the American legend unobtrusively but effectively, all seated except for Woods, standing behind a bass drum bearing the insignia of the Boys' Brigade.

Johnston is an often intense presence as he delivers his heartbreaking “Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Your Grievances” and his cover of The Beatles' “You've Got to Hide Your Love Away”. After a finale of “True Love Will Find You in the End”, moist-eyed friends are talking about “the greatest gig I've seen in my life”. It's almost as if they've been to church.

Critic's choice

Tricky, right, assisted by originalco-vocalist Martina Topley-Bird, revisits his trip-hop classic Maxinquaye in his own backyard at the Academy, Bristol (Thu), then as part of the Sundance Festival at London's Indigo2, (Fri) and Manchester University (Sat). Meanwhile, the veteranalt-rockers, Placebo, pitch up at Edinburgh's Picture House (Wed); Olympia, Liverpool (Thu); and they make their own Sundance appearance at the Indigo2, London (Sat).

Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week