Groove Armada, Academy, Bristol
British Sea Power, Academy, Leeds

Groove Armada remind us that there's more to them than a song that goes well with canapés

A couple of weeks ago, Channel 4's Come Dine with Me released a triple album of music for dinner parties, intended to soundtrack the purchaser's home entertaining from the soup course on.

And there, bang up top, second track on the "Starters" disc, are Groove Armada.

It's unfortunate positioning for a band who have taken a long time to shake off the curse of being known as dinner-party music ever since Tony Blair and Cherie Booth revealed that they liked to play GA's "At the River" (the offending song on the compilation CD). But it's also a reminder of how far they've come.

When I think of Groove Armada these days, I don't think of New Labour nibbling canapés. I think of genius electronic pop. And, after tonight, I'll think of a literally dazzling live show. For this is the last time Tom Findlay and Andy Cato will ever tour as a band, and they've spared no expense. As soon as the first beat kicks in, you're blinded by banks of old school rave lasers and football floodlights, while singer Saint Saviour, dressed in a Tron-inspired sci-fi body suit, brandishes a frankly superfluous hand torch.

From the off, Groove Armada are a shamelessly euphoric experience, every track sending endorphins flooding through your veins, every thumping electro-house track pulling that trick of sounding as if it's so loud that the batteries are dying on the off-beat, or as though the speaker is being swung around rhythmically on a lasso.

You're left wondering why Groove Armada never quite made it to the B-Jaxx/Prodge/Chemical Bros level of popularity. Absolutely everything's in place. The two songs which, more than any others, turned my opinion around are delivered next to each other tonight. The storming "Song 4 Mutya" is performed with only the cruellest snatch of the scowling Sugababe, but the peerless "Paper Romance", recorded with new electro baton-carriers Fenech-Soler, is an epic, the whole room joining the petulant yelp of "Chere, you can write me a love letter, but there's nothing to say ...". Why wasn't it a massive hit? What is wrong with you people? (OK, it takes half an hour to get to the chorus. But apart from that?)

That song gives way to the Mode-meets-Laura Branigan, mittel-Eighties sound of "History", a song which even makes Will Young sound cool. By the time they encore with "At the River", Cato parping on his trombone like an Aristocat, warmongers couldn't be further from your mind.

There aren't many bands whose singer can carry off a tangerine kagoule on stage and genuinely have you believe they're preparing for a field trip to a glacier rather than following a chav fashion trend. Nor are there many bands whose bassist can sport a brown leather flying cap and have you thinking of David Niven in A Matter of Life and Death rather than Roy "Chubby" Brown. But there aren't many bands like British Sea Power, full stop.

The treasured Cumbrian curios will be releasing their fifth album in the new year, entitled Valhalla Dancehall ("It's a mythical place...", they explain in a short film on their website, "where you'd imagine Lee 'Scratch' Perry and Thor having a great time together"), and it's trailed tonight with "Pyrex", an attack on apathy which begins "Were you not told? Did you not know? Everything around you is being sold", and rises to the refrain of "Sometimes I wish protesting was sexy on a Saturday night..."

It's an uncommonly direct statement from a band who habitually eschew the obvious: witness "Canvey Island" which, with deftness of touch, expresses their terror of climate change by invoking a 1953 flood in which "many lives were lost, with the records of a football team", and which gives me shivers which cannot be explained away by overzealous air con.

The pioneers of ornithology rock (tonight's set includes "The Great Skua") are never less than compelling, the haunted, lidless gaze of the brothers Yan and Hamilton focusing the attention, their stirringly anthemic rock filled out these days by Abi Fry's John Cale-like viola drone.

"Waving Flags", their articulate counter-argument to Mail immigration paranoia, is echoed by a vintage Polish flag. A heart-bursting "Carrion" makes death by drowning feel valorous, almost erotic: "Oh, the heavy water, how it enfolds/The salt, the spray, the gorgeous undertow..."

On their traditional set-closer, "Spirit of St Louis", Leeds-bred Noble amuses his home-town crowd by falling comically into the photo pit when trying some foot-on-the-barrier heroics. He isn't even drunk.

Next Week:

Simon Price finds out whether Robyn's still rockin'

Arts and Entertainment
Impressions of the Creative Community Courtyard within d3. The development is designed to 'inspire emerging designers and artists, and attract visitors'

architecture
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

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

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

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

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
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

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

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

books
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

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
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
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
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.

    Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

    Please save my husband

    As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada
    Birthplace of Arab Spring in turmoil as angry Tunisians stage massive sit-in over lack of development

    They shall not be moved: jobless protesters bring Tunisia to a halt

    A former North African boom town is wasting away while its unemployed citizens stick steadfastly to their sit-in
    David Hasselhoff's new show 'Hoff the Record': What's it like working with a superstar?

    Hanging with the Hoff

    Working with David Hasselhoff on his new TV series was an education for Ella Smith
    Can Dubai's Design District 'hipster village' attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?

    Hipsters of Arabia

    Can Dubai’s ‘creative village’ attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?
    The cult of Roger Federer: What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?

    The cult of Roger Federer

    What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?
    Kuala Lumpur's street food: Not a 'scene', more a way of life

    Malaysian munchies

    With new flights, the amazing street food of Kuala Lumpur just got more accessible
    10 best festival beauty

    Mud guards: 10 best festival beauty

    Whether you're off to the Isle of Wight, Glastonbury or a local music event, we've found the products to help you
    Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe

    A Different League

    Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe, says Pete Jenson
    Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey - Steve Bunce

    Steve Bunce on Boxing

    Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey
    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf