The Naked and Famous; Big Audio Dynamite – review

Koko, London; Shepherd's Bush Empire, London

Dante never reserved a circle of hell for brand extension managers. But if the wily old Florentine had possessed the foresight, it might have resembled a more fiery version of the event at which the Naked and Famous – a notionally blameless New Zealand quintet – find themselves playing.

Three bands and one special guest DJ (La Roux) are here in aid of a new model of car, with all the gruesome punishment that entails – adverts on loop, ghastly marketing speak ("urbanproof energised!") and the car itself, parked out front and restrained from indulging in unimaginable rock'n'roll behaviour only by a velvet rope. This is the first gig ever to be streamed live, in its entirety, on Spotify.

A band called something as crass as the Naked and Famous should fit right in here. Except the Naked and Famous are named for a line in a Tricky song ("Everybody wants to be naked and famous" – "Tricky Kid") that is pretty ambivalent about celebrity. In interviews, the Nakeds give the impression of being the sort of teenage New Zealanders who stayed in their bedrooms, learning their instruments and daydreaming, while everyone else was doing vigorous stuff in the fresh air.

This time spent indoors has yielded a deceptively breezy batch of songs, one that enthusiastically takes up the baton of heady pop so foolishly discarded by MGMT (summer sensations in '08 , bloody-minded musos in '10).

TNAF go one better than MGMT by having a girl in the band – the spectacularly named Alisa Xayalith, whose dreamy yelps combine with the hazy utterings of co-singer Thom Powers to prismatic effect. Tonight, "Punching in a Dream" still sounds as fresh as a daisy, just as it did last summer when its release amplified the buzz around the band and earned TNAF a slot on the BBC Sound of 2011's shortlist. Since then, they've released their rather nice debut album, Passive Me, Aggressive You; their forthcoming May gig at the 2,000-capacity Shepherd's Bush Empire has already sold out, and that can't just be filled with partisan antipodeans who would normally be at the Walkabout bar next door. A summer of charming festival audiences looks likely.

Summing TNAF up as mere MGMT copyists is a touch unfair; there are other wells from which they draw. Thanks to Xayalith's intercessions, they can sometimes sound like a perkier version of the xx; like introverts playing hard at extroversion.

Set-opener "All Of This", meanwhile, has more than a hint of LCD Soundsystem about it; the joyous "Young Blood" confirms the suspicion that they have heard Arcade Fire, too. At no point does this agglomeration of influences feel like a check list, shamelessly compiled with a view to getting them famous. If the Naked and Famous sound like a perfectly pleasant hazy day playlist on 6 Music, then there is really very little shame in it at all.

The last time I saw Big Audio Dynamite was in some sun-baked stadium in Italy, supporting U2 in 1987. I didn't know too much about them, save that BAD were the pop band that the Clash had turned into. I just loved their debut album unconditionally, because it contained tantalising mysteries – Jamaican toasting, film samples, associative lyrics about relativity – that you could dance to. BAD were fantastic, so much more inventive than the main attraction.

They remain a joy on this tour, which reunites the original line-up – former Clash man Mick Jones, fresh from Gorillaz duties; film-maker Don Letts on samples, cowbell and toasting; drummer Greg Roberts; bassist Leo Williams (day job: Dreadzone); and keyboard player Dan Donovan. Back then, they must have got such stick for dressing like cowboys on the sleeve, a look that recalled the Village People more than the outlaw chic they must have been aiming for.

Rake-thin in a black suit and big shades tonight, Jones looks like a groovy undertaker only too pleased to disinter his second most influential band. BAD's patchwork of skanking, sampling and twanging may sound downright quaint to 21st-century ears, but at the time, songs such as "E=MC2" were way ahead of the curve. All that splicing, overdubbing and cranking up of ancient Heath Robinson keyboards can now be done with the wink of a touchscreen; unsurprisingly, an Apple logo beams from a laptop next to the drumkit.

You could easily just watch the audience – every "character" in west London seems to be here – but the action onstage never falters as BAD lollop warmly through their semi-chronological set list. Letts lets slip a rare grin; Jones chats volubly, machine guns us with his guitar and generally carries on like a man thoroughly enjoying reliving those BAD old days.


Kitty Empire

The GuardianTramp

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