It’s a rare sight to see seven scruffy bearded Texans pass through Norwich; after all, it has been a while since Midlake produced their unanticipated masterpiece Trials of Van Occupanther. Yet, with the imminent release of their 60’s folk influenced new release, such a spectacle was set to return. 4356334057_74b63dec1a_b Support, Sarah Jaffe Live There was a noticeable atmosphere of anticipation in the long sold-out Norwich Arts Centre that not even the dull, monotonous music of support act Sarah Jaffe could tarnish. The audience - an ocean of middle-aged bearded men and glasses (many of whom were alive at the time of the band’s points of musical reference), were ready to finally bear witness to the creators of such beautiful, evocative music. Yet, as the seven band members stumbled awkwardly onto the small, cramped stage, all apprehension dissolved and merged into admiration. There is something beautifully fragile about Midlake’s music, a quality perfectly recreated in their live performances. The songs were speckled with delicate harmonies and trembling vocals; the awkward personalities and on stage banter seemed to perfectly compliment the music. Yet, as much as the intimacy of the small venue benefited the raw beauty and virtuoso-playing of Midlake’s music, many of the nuances of the recordings were lost - the vocal harmonies often drifted into an indistinct mush and the delicate flute playing was obscured. Then again, the live performance marks a deliberate deviation from the recordings - a bold but refreshing move from the typical note-for-note recital seen with many bands. It is a delight to see these Texans’ play their music for us in such a sincere and unassuming manner. There is an air of authenticity that resonates in their music and performance; after all, if nothing else, the gig offers a remarkable insight into a fascinating and mysterious Texan lifestyle – a chance to see ‘real Southern Americans’ with real beards and cowboy shirts, playing real American Indie-rock music. It isn't often such a small venue in quaint little Norwich is blessed with such international credibility as with Midlake, but if this gig was anything to go by, I sure wish it happened more often. 4357082616_bfaf2804c2_b Midlake Lead singer Tim Smith