Somewhere in the ancient palace of music, on a shelf between Jimi Hendrix’s burning strat and Brain May’s hair, is a book of rules. Clearly The Sleepy Jackson never read it, or else they would be acquainted with rule 367; ‘never employ a support act who are more gifted than thou-selves’. The support act in question were The Hidden Cameras, who having originally been told they were sharing the bill, seemed like they were out to embarrass anybody remotely linked with The Sleepy Jackson.
Whilst The Sleepy Jackson are a credible indie band with much more of a thirst for adventure than most of their contemporaries, on this night they seemed to plough tediously through a difficult audio mush, turning up intact pieces of their all to obvious influences to the surface along the way. They appeared so ungainly probably because The Hidden Cameras seemed to dart, cloud-footed around a colourful, lush musical landscape with the ease that only superior players and musical minds can.
There were six members in the band, all multi-instrumentalists and they resembled a carrousel as they rotated around frontman Joel Gibb as they took it in turns to play ‘cello, glockenspiel, bass, guitars and keyboards. Although there was non of the pageantry seen in their US shows, they played with a zest and innovation that is seldom seen these days. The vast majority of the playlist was from their recent album, The Smell Of Our Own, a magnificent record which locates The Hidden Cameras’ self-dubbed "gay church folk music" between The Magnetic Fields and The Beach Boys. Highlights included a furious flurry of strings and glockenspiel in Ban Marriage, and the ethereal opener, Golden Streams, which if you didn’t think too hard about the song’s inspiration, was so beautifully performed you could think Gibb was singing about heaven.
At the end of the set the band jumped off the stage into the crowd and I managed to catch up with Gibb to congratulate him on his set. "Thanks, that’s really kind" he said with such sincerity and trepidation I was confused for a minute as to which one of use had just played a sensational gig. Surely he will not be able to hang onto his ego for much longer.