‘And Nico...’ is a night put on by the Sonic Cathedral club night and record label to praise the work of Nico, the actress whom got lucky and through her association with Andy Warhol joined the Velvet Underground on their masterful first album.

Tonight is more a tribute to the Velvets as most bands cover both ‘Sunday Morning’ and ‘Femme Fatale’, while only Le Volume Courbe are brave enough to do real Nico tracks, which completely lose the crowd. Velvets audiences normally involve the coolest of the cool, poseurs looking good and desperate for their 15 minutes of fame but with nothing between their ears but good looks, and there is a large proportion of those here tonight. The headliners are the Butterflies of Love whom hang around all night drinking and getting more wasted and keen to play every minute while watching the support acts.

The Left Outsides open the evening and consists of Alison Cotton and Mark Nicholas, both formerly of the Eighteenth Day of May. Alison was also in Saloon, and has played with Mark Mulcahy, and Tompaulin, while Mark was in Of Arrowe Hill and has played with numerous other acts. Tonight they are launching their self released album, ‘And Colours In Between’ which they recorded at home, and from which they play only four songs tonight.

The band come on while an early Slowdive track melts into the background, which suits a Velvets night very well. The melancholic ‘Fallen By the Wayside’ opens their set. As Alison’s viola sweetly hits the crowd, I’m shocked to hear her sing. I have been friends with Alison for about 10 years now, and I have never known that she sings. She is a very good singer too, but unfortunately the Social’s sound system lets her vocals down badly. Her vocal style here is that of a 1960’s girl, lost in a much bigger wider world. It really suits the track in question, which is somewhere between acoustic Velvets and traditional folk music.

On ‘The Third Light’ Mark’s softly strummed acoustic guitar is backed by Alison’s sad Cale-style viola. The song moves in an old Americana way. Ali's vocal on ‘Through the Keyhole’ is very much like Nico and her sad viola gives it added chill.

The Left Outsides provide a good reading of ‘I'll Be Your Mirror’. Making its first airing of the night, it is as charming as the original. ‘The Chameleon’ is trippy in a psychedelic folk way, and recalls the Beatles at the time of ‘Magical Mystery Tour’, while ‘Leaving the Frozen Butterflies Behind’ is folk rock in the truest sense, very much like Fairport Convention. They provide a pleasing version of ‘Femme Fatale’ before finishing with ‘Ring Out the Bells’, which features Mark on vocals and has perfect jangly guitar and lead viola to assist.

After the Left Outsides, former One Dove vocalist Dot Allison gives a fine acoustic set with the usual Velvets covers of ‘Sunday Morning’ and ‘Femme Fatale’.

Le Volume Courbe follow with a very rare live set. On record they have featured ex members of My Bloody Valentine, including Kevin Shields who is in the audience at the Social making sure the sound is spot on for the band, and both Hope Sandoval and David Roback from Mazzy Star. Tonight the band consists of Charlotte Marionneau on vocals, Melanie Draisey on violin, Sam Kilcoyne on harmonium which is the same instrument that Nico used, and Chris Rotter on guitar They play near perfect readings of Nico's ‘Le Petit Chevalier’ from her 1970 solo album ‘Desert Shore’ and ‘Reve Reveiller’ which is a recently discovered outtake from her 1969 album ‘The Marble Index’ reissue andwhich has been released on this year’s ‘The Frozen Borderline’ retrospective.

On the first track, Charlotte's vocal is isolated, giving out a haunting feeling and sounding lost in a big world, thus capturing what Nico was about. The harmonium adds to the isolated feel making it more sorrowful. The second track has guitar which gives it a hopeful feel but this being Nico it still breathes out loss and despair.

The Butterflies of Love take to the stage, and as usual, they tune up for ages. They are joined by Alison Cotton on violin for the first two tracks. The opening number is ‘Sunday Morning’, which is the third time we have heard this live tonight, but there reading is fine and near perfect. Horrible’ is the next track, again with Alison, but the acoustics in the venue lose her completely. It has a jagged edged feel, very Velvet Underground with great guitars feeding off each other and the bass working its way in and out of the track. It is just lovely.

While both the first two songs were sung by Jeff Greene, ‘Ghost Ride’ is sung by Dan Greene. His vocals here give the song a romantic feel, and the guitar solo here has a country rock sound that recalls Green on Red. ‘In a Blizzard, In a Lighthouse’ is again sung by Dan , and is a crazy rocking number. The band then add that they “are happy to play for the happy go lucky Nico as they are all miserable people”, which isn’t true! They are in fact really easy going.

‘Take Action’ follows, which has a catchy Velvets feel, and, and absolute powerhouse of song, makes your feet move. Most of the rest of the songs in the set have a similarly powerful Americana feel. As there is no room too from the tiny stage they don’t leave it but they encore with their first single, the classic ‘Rob a Bank’.

A great night and one that Nico herself would have maybe approved of.








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