Mike Atkinson

Hidden Cameras – The Social, Nottingham, Wednesday September 27

Posted in Bodega, gigs, Nottingham Post by Mike A on September 27, 2006

Just over two years ago, this eight-piece indie-pop act from Toronto played a truly stunning gig at The Social. It was one of those perfect alignments of band, audience, material and venue which comes along all too rarely, but which can compensate in one stroke for a whole string of so-so evenings.

At that time, the band was promoting their second album, the sublime Mississauga Goddam, which was picking up a string of justifiably ecstatic reviews. It seemed as if their singular brew of self-styled “gay church folk music” was poised on the brink of a breakthrough. Would they too join the ever-growing ranks of “name” acts who have swung by The Social on their way to major success? It seemed like a plausible bet.

Two years on, the Hidden Cameras returned to the same venue, in front of an adoring but noticeably diminished crowd, promoting their third album Awoo: an enjoyable enough re-working of their formula, but lacking that indefinable quality which made their earlier material so magical. It can be a tough gig, living up to such heightened expectations, and they came within inches of greatness – and yet, for all the beaming smiles which bounced from the performers to the audience and back again, it all felt a little too cosy and predictable.

That said, there was still much to enjoy. Led by singer-songwriter Joel Gibb, and with their sound fleshed out by a splendid three-piece string section, the Cameras specialise in skilfully arranged, richly melodic three-minute ditties, with a deceptive sweetness of touch that conceals some deeply personal and highly unorthodox lyrics. Audience participation is encouraged, with tambourines handed out to some of the most enthusiastic.

Two years from now, will we all be meeting up again for more of the same?

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