Pop & Jazz: Lionrock play the Essential Music Festival, Brighton

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The Independent Culture
Now we live in the era of The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers and Underworld, the phrase "dance music has no identity" has long since been pensioned off, thankfully. But live, the somewhat less than sexy banks of computers and electronics tend to be as much in your face as the music. Which is one reason Justin Robertson can't understand why his fully formed band Lionrock regularly get thrown in the regular dance camp. "People still compare us to The Chemical Brothers and a lot of other techno bands, but we are just nothing like them," he insists. "My roots are in a dance background, and I'm good friends with The Chemical Brothers and we've played with them, but we are trying to do something different. Dance music was very liberating for me because it destroyed the band format. But now it's forming its own kind of rules, but we step out of that trap."

Which is something Robertson proves, gloriously, on new album City Delirious. He can put into play old-fashioned ideas like deceptively simple melodies, but tracks like "She's On A Train", with its bruisy bass and synth lines, are the work of a studio craftsman, no mistake. He treats music like an adventure playground, whether coming up with cracking riffs or piecing sounds all together after the band has long gone home. Genius.

Lionrock will be hoping that their good fortune live will continue when they play the Brighton Essential Music Festival, but the competition to be king of the field for the three-day wingding is pretty tough. Sunderland's punk-pop upstarts Kenickie bring their spiky wares for the teenagers, while the rave brigade get Chemical Brothers and Future Sound of London (who will be making the first-ever live ISDN broadcast to an outdoor event). Ice-T and Grandmaster Flash represent the premier league of hip-hop and rap, while The Levellers, on home turf, will be there to rabble-rouse the cidered-up crusties.

EYE ON THE NEW Welsh maestros Super Furry Animals have a lot to live up to after their debut album, Fuzzy Logic, last year. This tour and new single "Hermann Loves Pauline" are the first outings for their new material.

Bradford University (01274 383266) 24 May; Preston University (0115- 912 9000) 25 May; Northampton Roadmender (01604 604222) 27 May; University of London Union (0171-323 5481) 28 May (sold out), 29 May