Hidden Orchestra, Queen’s Hall, Wed 27 Jul 2011 (4 stars)

Hidden Orchestra, Queen’s Hall, Wed 27 Jul 2011

Dubby, lush sounds from Edinburgh-based jazz orchestra

The List was intrigued to see what Hidden Orchestra’s live show would look like. The band’s debut album – 2010’s Night Walks – was based on the careful building, sampling and layering of tracks in the studio; something damn difficult to create in a live setting. It’d require at least, say, two drummers, plus a bunch of extremely talented additional musicians.

Which is exactly what we got. Sure, ringleader Joe Acheson and his three regular accomplices – two of whom sat on drummer’s stools, by the by – took to the stage first and formed the solid backbone of the music throughout; but they were backed up by several very proficient multi-instrumentalists, bringing harp, clarsach, trumpet, french horn, sax, cello and whistle to the mix. The tunes themselves – all but one lifted from the album – were of the immaculate standard you’d expect from seasoned jazz musicians, coupled with crystal-tipped precision production from Acheson, who twiddled knobs in the intervals between fingering bass guitar notes.

If anything, the performance could be criticised for being a little too virtuoso: one of the two drum solo battles went on for a smidgen too long, with a hint of self-indulgence. However, this was amply counteracted by the small smiles on the faces of all on stage, which added an element of humanity to the perfection. The band members were revelling in their hard-earned musicianship, and all in the audience couldn’t help but do the same.

Part of the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival.

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