The Concretes, Scala, London

They call it the Stockholm smile
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The Independent Culture

There was a telling moment at the start of the Concretes' set when singer Victoria Bergsman looked out into her rapturous audience and, understandably, smiled with joy - but then she quickly caught herself and corrected it with the despondent expression she has for the rest of the night. It was an early indicator of the rather dated Nico-esque persona that she seems to have created for herself, which put a damper on an otherwise enjoyable evening.

Of course, Victoria's sad-sack Mazzy Star-via-Stockholm vocal is part the Concretes' charm, as it jars wonderfully with their fizzling Motown indie-pop - while she purrs winsomely, the other seven members (glam girls, nerdy boys) back her up with a host of flutes, saxophones, glockenspiels and Ronnettes-style vocals. Like fellow Swedes Abba, the Concretes have an unashamed love of pop songs with a heart of darkness, from the languorous, jealous swell of "New Friend" ("Didn't know you got yourself a new friend...") to the handclapping, Phil Spectorish new single "Chosen One", about being rubbish in love.

It is unsurprising, then, to see unashamed lovesick-merchant Romeo from the Magic Numbers making a cameo appearance during the encore for the duet "Your Call" with the Concretes' stunning blonde drummer Lisa Milberg. Extra members of the Numbers are drafted in for the rest of the set and the twee brigade (uniform: cardigans, fringes, existential despair) come very close to dancing, especially during the storming last number, "Warm Night".

As the lights dim low, that tight little smile creeps back onto Victoria's face.

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