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
Thomas carried Lady Edith over the flames in her bedroom in Downton Abbey series five

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, seated next to a picture of his missing wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

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
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
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
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
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
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.

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    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