Live Review: Lou Reed Tribute Night at The Manhattan Inn

Nearly 100 Lou Reed and Velvet Underground lovers gathered in the small, intimate setting of The Manhattan Inn on Sunday for a tribute concert in honor of Rock n’ Roll icon Lou Reed.

A co-curation between HYPNOCRAFT and musician Jared Samuel, this sold-out piano bar and restaurant took us back in time to good ol’ 1970s, with only a trail of Christmas lights, a chandelier of moss and a few candles to set the ambiance for the next two and a half hours.

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The Invisible Familiars started the night off performing “Cool it Down,” from The Velvet Underground’s fourth studio album. Their electric, soulful energy had the crowd bopping their heads and tapping their feet from the start. As the night went on, each band seemed to add their own flavor to each song. Pencil added a new wave grunge flair to classics such as “I Can’t Stand it” and “New Age,” while performers Cassandra Jenkins and Sam Owens performed a beautiful a cappella version of “Who Loves the Sun”, as well as an interpretive dance number, involving flying shoes and a “temple of dental floss” alongside the song “Pale Blue Eyes.”

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Emotions ranged throughout the night. Mirah performed a heavy girl-powered version of “Make up” and “Vicious” that amped up the entire crowd with psychedelic energy. Jared Samuel from The Invisible Familiars performed an acoustic, microphone-less version of “Satellite of Love,” accompanied by the evening’s other artists who provided backing vocals.  The night ended up being more than anything a collaborative collection involving all eight bands and artists.

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Throughout the night, artists shared stories and feelings about Lou Reed. Ahmed Gallab from Sinkane credited the Velvet Underground for being one of his biggest influences in moving to New York. Jolie Holland performed Black Ya Ya’s song “Song for Lou Reed” that deals with the regret of not seeing him when he performed for the last time in Paris on March 6th 2013. Accompanied by a saxophone and violin played by Holland, their overall set created a natural, melodic flow from one song to another, which left the crowd enchanted.

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To end the night Rachel Housle, drummer of The Invisible Familiars, took the stage for the last performance, “After Hours.” Originally sung by Velvet Underground’s percussionist, Maureen Tucker, Rachel performed a riveting, simple cover that left the audience completely breathless. All and all, the night was a wonderful celebration of fifty-five years of phenomenal music and culture given to us by Mr. Lou Reed.