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
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
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
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.

    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
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine