Hammersmith Apollo, London

Simon Price on pop: Emeli Sandé, you've delighted us long enough – now give us something new

3.00

 

I opened an envelope the other day and Emeli Sandé turned up. OK, an old joke, but they keep coming. Only last week, some wag tweeted "Which song is Emili Sandé singing at Thatcher's funeral?" For most of last year, it seemed that Sandé – who at the start of it was just another name on those Brightest Hopes/Sound of lists – was inescapable. You couldn't switch on, say, the Olympics opening ceremony, the Olympics closing ceremony, The X Factor, The Voice or even BBC Sports Relief without seeing her bleached quiff, or hearing her signature tune "Next to Me".

It was that aggressive canvassing campaign that led to her double Brit Awards victory in February. Of course, she's hard to begrudge, because she's pretty good. And with Amy dead, Duffy retired and Adele kidnapped by Hollywood, the industry is glad of a Brit-soul singer who'll say yes to things. But overfamiliarity breeds contempt, and those "Sandé, Bloody Sandé" gags just write themselves.

Right now, filling Hammersmith for three nights, she's getting away with it in some style. Even if the style isn't her own: Nina Simone or Roberta Flack with beats, essentially. She plays a mean piano on "River", and skips around with perilous energy in a pencil skirt for most of the set. The peak of crowd excitement, however, is when, in a sharp suit and to much female screaming, Labrinth walks on to duet on his grammatically challenged "Beneath Your Beautiful".

Once this tour is over, the hope is that Sandé will step away from the spotlight and work on some new, more daring, material. Because nowhere in the showbiz handbook does it say "leave 'em wanting less".

Seeing The House of Love (Concorde 2, Brighton ***) for the first time is a night I'll never forget. My social committee at UCL Union had booked them in the late Eighties, thrilled to find a band who were a bright and still-undiscovered prospect. They didn't quite look the part: a bunch of misfits rather than a rock 'n'roll band, but there was something special about the House of Love. Or, rather, someone special. It's clearer now, two decades on, that THoL were a standard-issue indie rock band, schooled on the Velvet Underground and Postcard Records, who happened to have a ready-made guitar hero on board. Terry Bickers had it all: the jangle of Marr and dark-eyed good looks. But then the band were snapped up by a big label, and things started to go wrong. Their second album was relatively weak, represented tonight by "I Don't Know Why I Love You" and the daft "The Beatles and The Stones" who, its lyric claims, "put the V in Vietnam".

Before long, Bickers was taking too much acid, burning banknotes on the band bus, and was booted out, enhancing his own mystique but hobbling the House of Love. Some bands can survive, even thrive after the loss of a guitar god – hello Suede, hello Stones – but the House of Love were never the same again. By 1993, they'd broken up. To this day, former frontman Guy Chadwick is your man for sash windows in south London.

When they reformed in 2005, they brought Bickers back on board. And, oh my, he's still got it. In a pile-driving "Christine", the pedal-happy guitarist follows the words "chaos in the big sea" with a break that onomatopoeically creates that very sensation. "Love in a Car" swells from a delicate ostinato to an all-out assault.

And they're not just a nostalgia act: there are two post-reformation albums to play from. What they lack is a charismatic central focus. There are awkward silences between songs: when Chadwick announces, before "Se Dest", that "We're gonna take it down", it's hard to imagine how much lower the atmosphere could go.

You can't blame Bickers, Chadwick and co for wanting to waltz the ghosts of the days when they were miraculous, wanting to sh-sh-sh-shine on. But seeing The House of Love for the most recent time is a night I'll forget soon enough.

Critic's Choice

True original Patti Smith, backed by bassist Tony Shanahan, brings an evening of words and music to Mechanics, Burnley (Wed); Bronte School Rooms, Haworth (Fri) and Scarborough Spa (Sun). Meanwhile, IAMX, aka former Sneaker Pimp Chris Corner, plays a rare UK show at the Electric Ballroom, London (Thu).

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
filmThe singers widow and former bandmates have approved project
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Will there ever be a Friends reunion?
TV
News
Harry Hill plays the Professor in the show and hopes it will help boost interest in science among young people
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
A Van Gogh sold at Sotheby’s earlier this month
art
Arts and Entertainment

MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word

Arts and Entertainment
It would 'mean a great deal' to Angelina Jolie if she won the best director Oscar for Unbroken

Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says

Arts and Entertainment
Winnie the Pooh has been branded 'inappropriate' in Poland
books
Arts and Entertainment
Lee Evans is quitting comedy to spend more time with his wife and daughter

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

music
Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

music
Arts and Entertainment
Look out: Broad shoulders take Idris Elba’s DCI John Luther a long way
tvIdris Elba will appear in two special episodes for the BBC next year
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.

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
    There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

    In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

    The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

    It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
    The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

    Staying connected: The King's School

    The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
    Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

    Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

    Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

    The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
    Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

    When two worlds collide

    Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

    Putin’s far-right ambition

    Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?