The Ting Tings, Brixton Academy, London

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The Independent Culture

Of course Katie White finishes with "That's Not My Name", the 2008 number one single set to be the Ting Tings' signature song for the rest of their pop life. And the confirmation that this band have really hit a nerve doesn't come from the Ivor Novello Award their debut album, We Started Nothing, won days before this gig, or the iPod advertising campaign that has burrowed them into US hearts and minds. It comes in the melodic massed singing of the song's chorus by the intently staring women packed down the front. This is an adult version of the "Girl Power" White fell for when she bought her Spice Girls pencil case as a child.

"That's Not My Name" is also the most direct lyrical response to the sexist indignities heaped on White with her previous band Dear Eskiimo, on a major label who bullied her to get more kit off for photo-shoots. The song's assertion of identity was reinforced by meeting the Ting Tings' other half, drummer Jules De Martino, a decade older at 34, but similarly frustrated. Retreating to a Salford artists' collective, they created a defiantly individual style. Accusations of hype, as major fashion houses joined in the acclaim when they resurfaced to snowballing success last year, miss the point. Fashion and design are integral to the Ting Tings: they are their own art project.

De Martino, whose twin-effects box-boosted drum-kit creates most of tonight's music, is dressed in trademark lurid shades and Seattle lumberjack shirt. White's striped sailor suit confirms that the Ting Tings' fashion statements come from rummaging in a dressing-up box like playful kids. Her rudimentary guitar and punk-girl yelp are at their most relatively subtle on "Traffic Light", which begins as a blue-beat shuffle before a thrashing finale.

Most of the music's effect seems recalled from 1980s memory banks, confirmed when the skeletal Orange Juice-style Afro-funk of "Shut Up and Let Me Go" is framed by bursts of Talking Heads and Queen. And though White's home-made glamour and refusal of her generation's Pavlovian undressing for success makes her a female role model, that voice does wear thin. When she sidles up to De Martino, their bond is touching and true, formed to keep a hostile music business at bay. But there's no tension on stage, or musical development. They look relieved, and at their limit.

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