Live Music + Gig Reviews

The Hidden Cameras @ St Leonard’s Church, London

23 August 2008

The pillars of the overtly polite surroundings of St Leonard’s Church glisten as we take our seats. One would be forgiven for thinking this would be a polite, civilised affair. But it isn’t for long.

For this is the return to UK soil for The Hidden Cameras, the gay folkies from Canada performing a sprinkle of gigs in this country as a gentle reminder to their cult fanbase (there is no new record in sight as of yet) before taking on the rest of Europe.

There is no bar, other than small glasses of ‘wed wine’, a tipple frequently namechecked in the band’s songs.

The first of three new songs is a drawn out shoegazy affair, with violinist Jamie McCarthy’s gentle tweaks adding an eerie unsettling opening to the set. This is quickly followed by another newie, covering more familiar territory and revealing it to be a bouncy indiepop nugget. A quick plea from frontman Joel Gibb for everyone to get to their feet and fill the large empty space that separates them from the audience is a success and within seconds the hoards are gathering round the altar and the band are appreciated in the way they should be.

As Gibb stares intently to the crowd, unnervingly at times, the band proceeds to roll through a tribute to their back catalogue with tracks spanning their eight years together. The infectiously fun Learning The Lie and Death Of A Tune echo in the vast acoustics of the gorgeous venue, with McCarthy leaping and screaming along to every word. Having equally as much fun is all-rounder Maggie Macdonald, who smashes the xylophone for dear life with a cheeky grin on her face throughout, as well as attempting to outscream McCarthy (something she doesn’t succeed in).

Arguably the band’s staple song Ban Marriage gets another layer of meaning in the surroundings and is also greeted with two go-go boys stripped down to gold pants who proceed to march around the venue and climaxing in a synchronised dance on the altar.

A gorgeous Golden Streams is accompanied by a clearly intoxicated Patrick Wolf, but its tenderness still shines through and is by far the set’s highlight. Wolf later joins the band on tambourine for a rousing Music Is My Boyfriend and before we know it the pews are emptying and the boys, girls and everyone in-between disappear into the night with the mental image of two boys in gold pants firmly in their memory. The news that a new record is a way off may disappoint some, but this was a brilliant reminder of the joy this band can bring and an appetite whetter for the future. Who said church couldn’t be fun?

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More on The Hidden Cameras
This Music Made Me: The Hidden Cameras
The Hidden Cameras – Home On Native Land
The Hidden Cameras – Age
The Hidden Cameras: “That’s the whole concept of the band, controlled chaos” – Interview
The Hidden Cameras – Origin: Orphan