Calvin Harris, Scala, London
Devo, Forum, London

Calvin Harris has come up with a few new riffs, and his audience has already started singing them

Who's the lead singer of Calvin Harris? Once upon a time, the answer to that question wasn't as self-evident as it sounds. When I first saw him, in a pub on the 2007 Camden Crawl, he was very much the midfield playmaker in his own band. Nowadays he's centre-forward.

Tonight, Calvin Harris stands before us naked – or as naked as a gold velour trackie over a black T-shirt and jeans will allow – his only crutch a small console-like gadget of dubious musical relevance. (Conceivably, he's posting on Twitter.)

Comeback single "I'm Not Alone" began with Harris singing all but unaccompanied and, like much of his forthcoming second album, admitted to feelings of vulnerability and doubt. It takes guts to show vulnerability, and Calvin's found 'em.

A sleepy-eyed Scot who often comes off as laconic to the point of coma, he's unexpectedly animated tonight, roaring, "London, are you ready to go off?", like we're a week-old pint of semi-skimmed. And, for much of the show, this corner of London does go off, like a bottle rocket.

Everyone's hatin' on Calvin Harris nowadays: serious techno-heads, cooler-than-thou indie scenesters, even Calvin Harris himself. But after a No 1 with Dizzee Rascal last summer, and a No 1 in his own right now, he must be doing something right.

"Acceptable in the 80s" is remixed tonight; Harris confesses on mic that he's sick of that song. Well, tough. Without it you'd still be stacking shelves. C'mon man, give us the sugar, not just the salt.

Whatever you think of the I Created Disco material now, you forget how irresistible it was until "Disco Heat" booms at you from a massive PA. The backdrop and the merch may still show the visuals from that record, but on the new material, it's all change. Calvin's been speaking of "stadium dance", and there's a lot of that: his erstwhile choppy staccato style's made way for monumental three-note riffs. (And, it must be said, doom-laden Numanesque instrumentals which leave everyone bemused. Oh, and what sounds uncannily like a cover of DJ Jean's "The Launch".)

Forthcoming single "Ready for the Weekend", with its "I'm putting my shoes on ..." chorus aimed squarely at that all-important footwear demographic, is a hands-in-the-air anthem in waiting, and the closing "I'm Not Alone" has the chip shops around King's Cross echoing afterwards with people singing the riff. Let the Harris haters keep on hatin'. The chip-eaters and the shoe-wearers know the score.

Mention the word Devo and the epithet "post-punk" will never be far behind, but in truth the Akron art rockers' origins were pre-punk, having formed in the aftermath of the massacre of anti-war protesters at America's Kent State University in 1970.

As founder Jerry Casale has explained to Simon Reynolds, "After Kent, it seemed like you could either join a guerrilla group like the Weather Underground, actually try assassinating some of these evil people ... or you could just make some kind of whacked-out creative Dada art response. Which is what Devo did."

A product of their time, and also of their place: one of the first bands to self-identify as "industrial", their jerky rhythms mimetic of the Ohio rubber capital's factories. The specific desire was to make "outer space caveman music" (Casale), the theory being that "the more technology you have, the more primitive you can be" (Mark Mothersbaugh).

For a long time, Devo disappeared from the discourse entirely. Suddenly, though, every "angular" post-punk revivalist act was ripping off Devo's chops, and their 1979 debut album Are We Not Men? (We Are Devo), performed in its entirety tonight, sounds easily contemporary enough to be a current release. Admittedly, Virgin would never sanction a song like "Mongoloid" today. For that track, Mothersbaugh – looking like a mad professor played by a middle-aged Rick Moranis – incongruously jiggles pom-poms.

For old men, and for art pranksters, Devo rock harder and louder than you'd ever expect. The name carries a double meaning: slang for "deviant", and short for "de-evolution", which crops up in the one bit of banter. Casale asks whether the intervening 30 years have shown that de-evolution is occurring. The response is universal assent.

Arts and Entertainment
Loading individual letters on to an original Heidelberg printing press
books
Arts and Entertainment
Shades of glory: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend

Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
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.

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

    Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

    Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

    Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
    Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

    Crisp sales are in decline

    As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

    Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

    Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
    Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'