It is not often that a performance of musical euphoria is held within a characteristic, vintage, and boutique shop, of all places, complete with a corner bar. However, planted in the hipster quarter of London, Shoreditch, one can hardly be surprised.
Velvet Morning is as the name suggests: a refreshing, smooth, psychedelic pulse that tranquilized the audience as soon as the first beat pumped out, in the shape of faded denim dungarees, polo necks and dishevelled hair.
They are a relatively fresh band on the musical scene, their music and look harks back to the heady, liberated sixties era. Like a ticket back in time to the Woodstock festival, the atmosphere was perfect for the youthful who were born too late to enjoy that sixties multi-coloured mayhem first-hand. The music struck me as hedonistic, ushering in images of hazy summers, bright flowers, chilled bottles of beer and empty beaches. In other words, the music summons a freedom that is essential to our chaotic, modern life – I decided this would be my soundtrack away from those chaotic moments – which is no easy feat for a band to offer.
As the song ‘Paranoia’ kicks in the subtle tones massage the audience, and a relentless, slow beat – a recurring theme to the songs – lulls the audience into pacification.
Sam Jones (Vocals/Guitars) and his band, John Kirkwood (Bass), Luke Elgar (Guitars) and Chris Richardson (Drums) all come from Southend-on-Sea. The music nods to a hint of escapology from those quiet surroundings, (which surely is an important scope to music – the vital element of lifting listeners up and out of this world.)
Sam is dolled up in dungarees when I catch a few words with him: he offers a down-to-earth approach to his writing that aims to inspire. He insists that Velvet Morning are not to be ‘put in a box’ but (successfully) offer an ‘obscure’ alternative to early inspirations such as White Fence and Sonic Youth. Main inspirations grew in the form of The Flaming lips, Arial Pink Tomorrow’s Tulips and The Temper Trap. There is certainly a touch of the Manchester drawl within their vocal drones and is an ideal soundtrack to those hung-over mornings, suspending you in a numb state of euphoria.
All in all, there is an essence of cool nonchalance to the downbeat tempo, which is at once effortlessly powerful and enjoyable – the songs drifting over the audience like a multi-coloured smoke machine or rhythmic sedative. As is imperative with music, Velvet Morning lifts you out of your immediate surroundings – I was at once in a sun-drenched field with topless hippies draping flowers on my face, then transported to Space, and back to Planet Earth again. What with the psychedelic music filling the vintage boutique bar and the hanging, colourful, vintage dresses that potentially belonged to young men and women from the Sixties, perhaps that enviable era was not that far away after all.