The Night and Day Cafe in Manchester is slowly becoming a favourite place amongst young bands. It’s cool, quirky, and at first doesn’t strike you as a music venue, just an overly alternative coffee shop-cum-bar. But it definitely has that hipster vibe which is becoming a must have accessory for a lot of today’s young talent.
Tonight, the headline act is Avenue, a jazz-rock band from Manchester. The place isn’t packed out, but I wouldn’t really expect a full on mosh pit to happen at a jazz gig.
As they kickstart their first song, ‘Mellow Yellow’, it instantly comes across how professional they must work together. They are tight, the sound is clear and the singer has a voice very reminiscent of Amy Winehouse. The overall sound of jazz vocals mixed with rock instruments blends together so smoothly. It’s actually so refreshing to hear a young band sound like this and not like a wannabe Arctic Monkeys/Oasis tribute band.
I just wish they had more spark in their stage presence for in between songs. It deflates the set when they go from full performance mode, to standing around awkwardly, talking shyly to the audience.
‘Move On’ injects some feistiness into the performance, with lead singer Lauren George spitting out lyrics such as, ‘Move on, you need to get some help!’. It has that element of sassiness which makes you want to applaud and shout, ‘YES GIRL!’.
Remember I said the singer sounded like Amy Winehouse? Well sure enough, mid-way through their set, they launch into a cover of ‘Valerie’ (originally done by The Zutons, Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse covered it in 2007). It is definitely their stand out song, getting an impressive reaction from the audience. A crowd pleaser, yes, but it shows off Lauren’s vocals beautifully, and with their own relaxed jazz-rock twist, it makes the song sound effortless.
All the songs that Avenue have performed tonight are slick, well rehearsed and enjoyable to listen to. You just need stage presence guys! Get some movement in there, dance a little, it’s your night and you are in control.
However, it is a good thing that this the only negative thing I have to say about their performance tonight.
Last song ‘Wicked Heart’ leaves the gig on a happy-go-lucky, feel-good note, and finally shows the two guitarists enjoying themselves.
Avenue have incredible songwriting talent, and seem to have already established a solid sound with no doubts of who they want to be. Their set was a perfect mix of well rehearsed originals and crowd pleasing covers. It went down so well, they definitely deserve to feel proud as musicians.