There is something of a buzz developing for Southend band Velvet Morning who have recently released their debut EP ‘Velvet Moon’. But having only formed about six months ago it’s still at a low-key level, so it’s an interesting time to catch them.

The night featured three other bands as well, all of whom showed promise and deserve a mention. The Adam Brennan Band’s songs showed traces of a Velvet Underground influence (following the more acoustic, jangling line of descent), but interestingly melded at times with some soulful female singing.

The last thing Inevitable Daydream allowed the audience to do was succumb to any reveries. A trio, they showed a Nirvana-like sense of powerful dynamics. The guitarist/vocalist played head down, hair almost totally obscuring his face as if to mask his shyness. This didn’t matter, as his expressive playing (with the rhythm section’s close support) said everything, veering from swathes of brain-shredding noise through to lyrical interludes.

Out of the Caves looked to be a more experienced band than the others. They played well-constructed songs that at various moments evoked among others REM and the Byrds. Another clue to who they’ve paid attention to was an enjoyable cover of Gene Clark’s ‘The Virgin’. But, as with the Adam Brennan Band, they too gave their influences a twist, in this case with an oboe player. On the final song, a long, strong collective groove, she added some particularly acute punctuation.

On paper a quartet, Velvet Morning were augmented by two tambourine players and someone on bongos. I found 'Velvet Moon', their debut EP, a bit too languid overall but here, right from opener ‘Yumi and the Moon’, they moved into a steady, compelling rhythm, the musicians bending and swaying as if in a collective dream. The added percussionists and a strong live mix gave an extra edge of energy to songs from ‘Velvet Moon’ like ‘Octocity’ and ‘Paranoia’ that on disc flirt with torpor. Samuel Jones’ vocals too had more impact, varying between a Richard Ashcroft-esque tone and some of the punkier ‘Nuggets’ front men. He also does a good line in occasional Iggy Pop ‘Funhouse’-era whoops.

Accomplished at creating a gently irresistible feel, on some songs there seemed uncertainty (as on disc) as to how to bring them to a conclusion, so that more than anything else they simply petered out. The basic material is, however, there, and none of the as yet unreleased songs they played showed a dip in standard below that of the EP : one currently untitled song, founded on John Kirkwood’s supple bass and Luke Elgar’s rich guitar, came over as especially strong evidence of progress.

Final song ‘Nottingham Oaks’ bore a nagging familiarity to a New Order melody. However this may be, by this point the appreciative audience, and the band had been raised to a state of shared celebration.

Afterwards under the distant moon, walking through the dark streets, it felt like Velvet Morning’s star could really be on the rise.

Velvet Morning Set List:

Yumi and the Moon
Blue Jean Baby
Clouds Come First
Black Velvet Morning
You're Blue, I'm Blue
Nottingham Oaks

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