IoS pop review: Palma Violents, The Dome, Tufnell Park, London
Caravan, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

If this is the band of 2013, take me back to 1973

Anyone waiting for 2013 to hurry up and start happening – in the sense of being divebombed by the unexpected – will have to wait a little longer. The music industry's calendar being the regimented thing that it is, we're still in the open-up-and-say-aaah phase, in which we're spoonfed the same foregone conclusions.

Among this year's chosen ones are Palma Violets (yes, that misspelt name is how they style themselves), a rudimentary guitar group from Lambeth whom I last saw in August, supporting British Sea Power in Brighton. At that time, they were just another hapless indie-schmindie band. Since then, they've rowdied up their act and cranked up the volume. They've also made the BBC Sound of 2013 list and the cover of the NME, so no one is ignoring them any more.

The Dome is as rammed as the band are ramshackle. "The Clash without the politics" would be a five-word first impression. There's smoke and, yes, violet light, but no art or artfulness. What we have here is a tried and tested formula: four vaguely presentable boys playing melodic rock'n'roll with big singalong bits, and playing them loud. Frontmen Sam Fryer and Chilli Jesson do the face-to-face Pete'n'Carl thing, with choruses shouted in out-of-tune unison, while Pete Mayhew's somewhat superfluous garage rock organ tries to make itself heard. With the Libertines reunion apparently having fizzled out, you can see why Rough Trade signed them up. It will probably pay off, too: it's not much of a stretch to imagine Palma Violets becoming Vaccines-sized.

Bassist Jesson is the resident deranged wild man, throwing drinks at the crowd and acting the loose cannon. The songs? They've nothing much to say. The Rihanna-borrowed refrain "You make me feel like I'm the only one" is fairly typical. "This song is about a girl," Fryer tells us at one point, before having a sudden moment of self-awareness. "Another one."

There's a time and a place for Caravan. For many people here tonight, it might have involved reclining on the grass at a free festival on some idyllic summer afternoon circa 1973, spliff in one hand, scrumpy in the other. For me, it was one late night around 10 years ago, seeing off a bottle of Scotch with my dad while he tried, yet again, to musically brainwash me with hippy nonsense.

Unusually, it worked. The album we were listening to was Blind Dog at St Dunstan's, a record with at least one outstanding track. Namely, the nine-minute long "All the Way (with John Wayne's single-handed liberation of Paris)", a piece of warm, blissful space-pop.

Blind Dog was released in 1976, a year in which Caravan, like most of the other old heads on the vaguely charming Canterbury scene, were noodling away in happy ignorance of the world outside, still following their psych-folk-prog path oblivious to glam rock, pub rock, punk and disco. They thought their world would never end.

And, in a sense, it hasn't. Grey of hair, black of attire, the Caravan of 2013 no longer look like the astral voyagers of yesteryear. The founding Sinclair brothers are gone, but lanky lead singer Pye Hastings, violinist and flautist Geoff Richardson and long-serving keyboardist Jan Schelhaas are still on board.

Some of their post-1980 material has an unfortunate Dire Straits feel, but the old stuff, dominated by excerpts from For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night (for which this tour is nominally a 40th anniversary celebration), is frequently impressive. There are tricky rhythms with 5, 7, or 11 beats to the bar (I lose count), false endings which fool the unwary into clapping early, lyrics about trysts on the golf course, and sudden skiffle interludes complete with spoons and washboards. They end with a 20-minute epic called "Nine Feet Underground". They don't, however, find room for "All the Way". Another time, another place.

Critic's Choice

Sinéad O'Connor plays intimate acoustic versions of her latest album at LSO St Luke's in London (Thu). Peter Hook & The Light, ignoring the fact that New Order still exist, perform New Order's Movement and Power, Corruption & Lies at Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff (Wed); Koko, London (Thu); and Manchester Cathedral (Fri).

Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea