The Dandy Warhols, Brixton Academy, London

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The Independent Culture

The Dandy Warhols have perhaps become best known for their contribution to telecommunications, after the mobile phone company Vodafone hijacked their single, "Bohemian Like You" (from the Warhols' excellent 2000 album, Thirteen Tales of Urban Bohemia) for a high-profile television ad. It seems the band's Stones-esque, ironic rejection of materialism was deemed the perfect song to shift mobile phones. The record went on to storm the charts, becoming the Oregon band's biggest single to date, its soaring guitars and carefree-lyrics defining the quartet as an energised and fun-loving bunch. An illusion they shattered here.

When frontman Courtney Taylor-Taylor - affectedly sporting a Mohican - mounts the stage, his first words are consumed by the venue's distorted acoustics. All we hear is "waiting a long time for this". Perhaps he's issuing a prophetic warning. Because as it turns out, he'll have us waiting a very long time for the marathon set to end.

Of the songs played - including ones from the band's patchy, electro-edged, new fourth album, Welcome to the Monkey House - only a handful are dynamic enough to burst through the stodgy sound. It's no coincidence these are mostly the singles - they're clearly the band's best tunes. Among them, a scorching "Bohemian" and electrified "Get Off" snap the crowd to life, while addictive breakthrough song, "Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth", even has them singing along.

The problem is that although some of Taylor-Taylor's songwriting does possess undeniable wit and melodic nous, examples of it are spread far too thinly through a set lasting more than two hours.

Most songs merge anonymously into an indistinctive drone characterised by the gig's nadir: "You Come in Burned" - a proggy grumble that finds Taylor-Taylor swapping his guitar for percussion. The pretentious dirge seems to last forever, but does at least prove to be a great ice-breaker - soon the nonplussed crowd are chatting among themselves.

Perhaps the music would have sounded better had there been a performance to back it up. Apart from the wiggling keyboard player, Zia McCabe, and the odd messianic pose from Taylor-Taylor, the band are joylessly static and charisma free. The resulting impression is that they, like their audience, are un-moved. Despite the frontman's obvious vanity - not many would presume to pull off such a ridiculous haircut - he is surprisingly devoid of stage presence, something hardly helped by lighting that's as muted as his band.

By the twentysomething song, a punter behind me complains that their ears hurt. This is even before the encore - a tuneless disaster sung by McCabe who returns for the curtain-call alone. A gig this long is a daring folly that very few (Lou Reed, Paul McCartney, Radiohead) have either the stature, blistering back catalogue or magnetic performance to carry off. Seemingly, deluded by their own hype, The Dandy Warhols tonight only prove they lack all three.

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