The Von Bondies, Monarch, London

Detroit's non-stop, no-contest rock'n'roll show
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

The current interest in all things rock'n'roll has certainly led to some intriguing developments. Camden is the new Hoxton, which was once the new Camden; Billy Childish is more fashionable than Tracey Emin; and, best of all, you can go out in the capital on any night and catch bands who seem to have no ulterior motive beyond playing rock music very loudly, then falling over afterwards.

This is a clear indicator that the fad-crazed music industry hasn't quite caught up with something this timeless, and can't work out just what it is that differentiates it from years of safely ignorable music. The answer, of course, lies with the expanding audiences, who have been drip-fed disappointing Next Big Things for so long that the opportunity to see something satisfying on its own terms is quite enough, thank you very much.

And when bands tour non-stop, they tend to become very, very good at live performance. Take Detroit's Von Bondies. Unsurprisingly lumped in with the scene's standard bearers, the White Stripes, (their fantastically named guitarist Marcie Bolen is Jack White's girlfriend), they are now something of an attraction in their own right, and deservedly so. It's hard to imagine just how any band in this field could improve on this show.

Kicking off with the title track from last year's Lack of Communication album – appropriately, as singer/guitarist Jason Stollsteimer spends much of it glaring at the tardy Bolen, caught chatting at the bar when she should have been on stage – their relentless attack completely outstrips the puzzlingly docile audience. Not even the frenetic "It Came from Japan" can stir them. But, rather than conceding, the Bondies just play harder.

They look good as they do it, too. Their unflappable bassist, Carrie Smith holds everything down, while drummer Don Blum tears into his kit, even while taking the vocals on a cover of the Compulsive Gamblers' "Rock'n'Roll Nurse" (it's as intellectual as it sounds). Smith and Bolen, currently sporting tour-friendly "rock housewife" hairstyles, flank the increasingly agitated Stollsteimer, his extraordinary howl becoming more and more strained with each song.

Thankfully, after a demand for an encore from a public-spirited punter, who grabs the mic and misquotes the MC5's famous "are you part of the problem or part of the solution?" rap, they complete the show with the fine "Take a Heart", to, at last, true appreciation. Judging by such unreleased tunes as "Broken Man" and "Pawn Shop Heart", if the Von Bondies ever stop touring long enough to enter a studio, their next recordings should be something special.

Touring to Leadmill, Sheffield (18 May); Little Civic, Wolverhampton (19 May); Louisiana, Bristol (20 May); Barfly, Cardiff (21 May); The Charlotte, Leicester (26 May)