Review of The Hidden Cameras live at Nottingham Bodega Social on Friday 19th March 2010

The Bodega Social, an unspectacular L-shaped venue in the centre of Nottingham, is not quite suitable for a band like The Hidden Cameras. Despite limiting the line-up to an octet, down from a mean of a dozen, Joel Gibbs' global collective are still hampered by playing such a standard-fare venue instead of typical jaunts in churches, strip-clubs and football stadiums.

The Hidden Cameras

Which isn't to say the band are over-reliant on gimmicks, far from it. The belly of the beast is hooks and plenty of them, straight-forward melodies plucked from two or three chords (typically Emaj, Amaj and/or Bmaj) that offer a watercolour impression of sixties pop on the surface whilst reaching into seedier waters.

And there aren't many bands that do pop better than The Hidden Cameras, and certainly very few which make it as euphoric. Recent single 'Underage' and 'A Little Bit' marry the formula to trancy keyboards and earworm vocals in a fashion that has gotten many an inferior band (Scissor Sisters immediately come to band) number one hits.

Elsewhere the band show their strength in depth by overlooking crowd favourites for choice cuts from early releases and b-sides. Calling cards 'Ban Marriage' and 'A Miracle' are shunned in favour of 'Pencil Case' and 'Mind Matter & Waste', accompaniments to recent single 'In The NA', whilst début Ecce Homo, unreleased in the United Kingdom, is as heavily represented as the two full-lengths which preceded last years Origin:Orphan.

Which mean 'Fear Of Zine Failure' and 'He Is The Boss Of Me' are given rare airings. These tracks show Joel's song-writing at its most direct and naïve and offer great counterpoints to the more flowing, composed sound found on their latest album. Yet whilst the band may have grown in grandeur over the past decade the core remains the same, and so the set doesn't feel disjointed or haphazard.

Such venues may not be the perfect setting for The Hidden Cameras, but they still manage to steal the show.

Jordan Dowling

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