Hidden Cameras : London Bush Hall

Tea! Pass the parcel! Songs about piss sex!...

Cannons, arrival by helicopter, a wrecking ball. All great introductions to great rock'n'roll shows. And then there's a tea party. Yes, tonight NME finds itself on a beautiful veranda overlooking west London. The tedious excesses of coke and skunkweed have no place here; it's the blended herbs of Darjeeling, Gunpowder China and Lapsang Souchong to mist, if not the senses, then at least the glasses of the invitees. NME sups the most evil and potent of brews: Earl Grey.

Suitably refreshed, we're pitched headlong into a game of pass the parcel. The prize is a T-shirt with a sword on it. A sword with a penis for a handle. Along with the 19 bananas lined up on the bar spooning each other like god's own parentheses, it affirms the atmosphere of polite debauchery, of teacups and fucking. It'd be impossible to pick a more appropriate venue for the gig - a sumptuous ballroom of chandeliers; a symbol of Victorian mores where vices were hidden by a veneer of respectability. Similarly, Joel Gibb's explicit tales of gay sex and yearning have an outward façade of lush irresistible orchestral tunes.

Celebrating the launch of the Toronto band's forthcoming album 'Mississauga Goddam', it's clear they've evolved rather than changed their patented gay church folk music sound: 'Doot Doot Plot' veers from folk hilarity to, well, jauntiness, 'Music Is My Boyfriend' moves both the emotions and the feet while 'B Boy''s broadside at America reveals that there are teeth beneath the (feathery) masks. During the claptastic 'In The Union Of Wine' the masked male go-go dancers hand out grapes and carelessly pour wine from gourds into welcome mouths. Then they strip.

Alongside 'Ban Marriage' and 'Golden Streams', these are tunes that are so sprightly and catchy they would be at home on the National Lottery Show. It makes it a million times more subversive than the self-conscious outrageousness of, say, Marilyn Manson.

Boy George once said that he preferred a cup of tea to sex. With Hidden Cameras, you can have your cake and, well, fuck it.

Anthony Thornton

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