Lucky Soul, The Lexington, London
Amazing Baby, Proud Galleries, London

So long, Marianne: Ali and her gang reach out to the pure-pop faithful

Pure pop is a faith, and Lucky Soul are a band for believers. More than that, in fact: they're a band of believers.

The Great Unwanted, the 2007 debut album by the Sixties-inflected sextet, was a romantic and heartfelt treasure, adored by all who heard it, or at least everyone in possession of the full complement of aortas and ventricles. "An immediate classic" was my judgement at the time, and I'm standing by that. And, on the evidence of this comeback concert, in which they showcase material from the forthcoming follow-up (due early 2010), they've got another one up their sleeves. A band member tells me it'll be "darker" than its predecessor, but I've got my fingers crossed that's just the sort of thing musicians feel they ought to say when they're coming off the back of something ultra-sunshiny, and that however dark it gets, somebody remembers to leave a light on.

Lucky Soul don't stand alone: they share a stable with popped-in, souled-out co-religionists. I've always loved record labels that have a distinct aesthetic, and Ruffa Lane, which is co-run by one band member and one ex-member, is such a label. It's no coincidence that Napoleon, the 10-strong Dexys-meets-Springsteen crazies from Uppsala, are Ruffa Lane signings, as is tonight's support act Montt Mardié, a bespectacled bear of a man from Stockholm who only writes songs about his girlfriend Annie, all of them ebullient to bursting point. When he bashfully announces "I love you, Annie!" before his last song, the whole place goes "Awww". He's thoroughly disarming, which is especially welcome in a city where everyone's armed.

We've already had a taster of Lucky Soul's second album in the stunning shape of "Woah Billy", quite simply one of the under-the-radar singles of 2009. A bewitching brew of T Rex, Dusty and Blondie, with a poignant pinch of self-doubt (in the literalist way that only a song with the refrain "I've got some doubts about myself" can be), it's a step forward from the contained Ready Steady Go! stylings of The Great Unwanted. Seriously, log on to your computer and do whatever it takes to hear it: it's one of those songs that forces you to go back to the start and listen again the first time you play it, and once you've done that, it's inside your head and inside your world all day long.

The Greenwich group, led by the core couple of Andrew Laidlaw and Ali Howard (who, with her honey-blonde hair and high-necked Sixties dress, is the spitting image of Marianne Faithfull circa "As Tears Go By" tonight), kick off with "Woah Billy" at the risk of shooting their load early, which takes some nerve. As, in Ali's case, does being here at all: "I've just come out of hospital," she says while kicking off her shoes, Sandie Shaw-like, "and I'm a bit wobbly. How about that, Liam?"

It's the self-confidence of a band who know they've got an immaculate collection of material to draw upon, from The Great Unwanted's title track, with its knowing Lesley Gore quote, through possible future singles "Ain't Nothing Like a Shame (To Bring It All Back Home)" and "White Russian Doll" with its driving Vandellas beat, to "Get Out of Town", featuring a cameo from Brighton girl group The Pipettes on backing vocals. And, indeed, the self-confidence of a band who can afford to leave out their finest moment, "Add Your Light to Mine", completely. Needless to say, I'm (still) a believer.

You can't have failed to notice that something is happening in New York. Something floral and lysergic and smelling of incense and peppermints. The preppy uptightness of the post-Strokes scene is all but over (with Vampire Weekend its Afrobeat-dabbling last hurrah), and a new spaced-out hippyism is in vogue, from MGMT to Yeasayer and beyond. It's as though some slow-travelling psych-wave has taken four decades to roll eastwards from Haight-Ashbury and has finally broken in Williamsburg.

Amazing Baby are too much. Like MGMT themselves (who are tellingly prominent among their top MySpace friends), they write songs in which one tune is never enough, and in which multi-melodies overload the senses. It's a tribute to their power that at this warm-up for the Reading Festival, attended by celeb scenesters from the great to the gormless (that's Beth Ditto to Peaches Geldof) with paparazzi flashbulbs popping all around, it's possible to completely switch off your surroundings and lose yourself.

The Brooklyn band, torsos creased in half, hair threshing, are blatantly oblivious to the celeb-splattered context too, which helps matters. And with songs like the irresistible martial march of "Bayonets", the concussed prog-glam daze of "Pump Yr Brakes", and "Head Dress", which sounds like three copies of Bowie's "The Bewlay Brothers" playing at the same time, slightly out of sync (which is actually way cooler than it might look on paper, you'll have to trust me on that).

Slowly but surely, one central fact emerges clearly about Amazing Baby. There's an invisible comma in the middle of their name.

Arts and Entertainment
Stewart Lee (Gavin Evans)

comedy

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

film
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment

film
  • 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.

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own