This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the album ‘The Velvet Underground & Nico’ released by US rock group, The Velvet Underground, in the summer of 1967.
Stepping forward, led by Lindisfarne’s keyboard player, Steve Daggett (lead vocals, guitar, piano and drums) alongside partner Ema Lea Daggett (Lead vocals, drums, organ and guitar), ‘The Velvets’ are marking the occasion with a five-date tour, beginning in Newcastle on September 9 at the city centre’s O2 Academy.
Daggett, who has been with the north’s famed, folk rockers, Lindisfarne, since the mid-eighties, helped form The Velvets late last year with gigs in Newcastle (The Cluny) and Liverpool (The Arts Club).
Ten months on and the five-piece are ready to test the waters with an anniversary tour celebrating the release of that iconic album, which will see The Daggetts accompanied by Bad Bob Bates (guitars), Willie Angus (bass) and guest musician Chris Maynard (viola), follow up their Newcastle opener with dates in Bristol, London Islington, Wigan and Glasgow.
“The idea that we are a ‘tribute’ act is a little misinformed and presumptuous,” stated Steve with the band being labelled in some quarters of social media as sacrilege, blasphemous and uncool since they started last October.
“There are no wigs, plastic surgery or mannerism cloning going on around here.
“We see it more as a celebration of music that doesn’t get the airing it should, considering the impact and influence the original outfit had on popular music.
“At the Liverpool Academy show, which co-incidentally was the day after John Cales’ Liverpool performance, a large number of the audience went to both gigs.
“There were no doubts at the end of the evening and nothing but great feedback from the crowd. Some fans saying they enjoyed our gig just as much.”
Originally managed and produced by the influential artist Andy Warhol, the experimental rock band rose up in New York in 1965 and consisted of Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, Maureen Tucker and Hungarian model and vocalist, Nico.
Although The Velvet Underground and their four albums garnered little success during the initial run, they’ve since been recognised as having had an influential presence on numerous musical genres. The groups’ songwriter Lou Reed achieved international rock star status with his solo work.
“I was looking for a project to run alongside my acoustic solo work and my live performances with the band Lindisfarne” explained Daggett of his decision to take the ball and run with The Velvets.
“The Velvet Underground & Nico debut album was released in 1967 and was a huge influence on my early teenage years and I thought it would be a challenge to recreate their great songs on stage.
“I’d only ever performed one or two of their tracks live before and so I set about getting deeper into the catalogue.
“The band was put together with other established musicians who were also big fans of the group.
“As rehearsals commenced we soon found ourselves in a predicament of which tracks to perform and which to omit, as a consequence we’ve ended up leaving very little out and having a two-hour show.”
With that musical marathon set to be unleashed The Velvets will cover tracks from the original album in the first half of their show followed by a selection of tracks from the bands’ subsequent catalogue of ‘White Light, White Heat,’ ‘Velvet Underground’ and ‘Loaded’.
Beginning on September 9 at Newcastle’s O2 Academy, The Velvets will then head to Bristol’s O2 on September 15 (POSTPONED), London Islington’s O2 on September 30 before trips to Wigan Old Courts Theatre on October 6 and Glasgow’s O2 on November 11; Daggett adding: “Initially we envisaged just playing small intimate clubs with a kind of 100 capacity, however it has grown into something a little bigger.”