Romeo’s Daughter

With Support From Jo Lewis and Dante Fox.

Guild Hall Theatre Derby 2nd October 2013.

Tonight’s gig was a little bit special.The venue was Derby’s Guild Hall Theatre, a new venue for me, yet its been there all along and I didn’t even know it existed. Primarily a theatre for acting, consisting of around 300 seated patrons, its decor is that of grander, reminiscent of days long forgotten.The halls are lined with pictures of actors that have graced the halls over the years. OK, the venue wasn’t an obvious choice for a rock concert, as stated though, tonight’s gig was special, Romeo’s Daughter filmed the entire set and will be putting out a DVD this Christmas, so keep your eyes open for that. So on that basis I can’t think of a more intimate, more perfect venue to record a live concert. The lighting, great! The PA system and acoustics, great! The backdrop and nice large stage for the acts to explore, perfect. If anyone from Derby Live reads this, the Guild Hall needs to be used more as its a great location and it didn’t stop the 300 strong capacity getting down the front and enjoying the music.

Supporting Romeo’s Daughter first tonight was a lesser known female acoustic artist from Derby, Jo Lewis. It’s always nice to see bigger acts giving the locals from the towns and cities they visit, a chance. Clearly a fan of the main act tonight, as Jo tells us, she went to a festival and Romeo’s Daughter was the first act she saw. So what an honour it must be for Jo to grace the same stage, on the same night, as one of her idols?

Jo’s voice is remarkable, her acoustic guitar acts more like a rhythm aid to her singing. She sang of tales about ghosts and fear, amongst other topics, she even sung us a mild politically motivated track, made all the more bearable by her clever use of crowd participation. She asked us all to beat our chests to act as a bass drum, then click our fingers and clap our hands, one after the other, continuously so as to create a rhythm throughout the song. It was fun to play a part in her act, it cheered everyone up too.

Jo Lewis

Jo did seem a little nervous tonight, but that’s to be expected considering the other acts she was playing with. She was also being recorded by an army of camera men, so I know how unnerving that can be if you’re not use to it! I’ll end by saying Jo usually runs a workshop on Wednesday nights over at Burton college, but managed to avoid that and entertained us instead and what a pleasure it was too.

Next up were Dante Fox who are a band that I first encountered at Firefest 2012. A very similar act to Romeo’s Daughter, in that they both sit within the melodic hard rock genre and both have female lead vocalists. Consisting of Sue Willetts – Lead Vocals, Tim Manford – Guitar and Vocals, Andy Perfect – Drums, Alan Mills – Bass and Pete Lakin on Keyboards. In that year they produced two albums and have been touring hard ever since.

Alan Mills - Dante Fox

It was also nice to see them perform again tonight too. Several humorous moments throughout tonight’s set, the first was when Sue had to wait for Tim to re tune his guitar and she was moaning about having to wait, like an old married couple. Another was when she was looking for the crowd, as she wasn’t use to playing to a seated audience. Tonight’s set was short, but powerful and got the crowd going. Sue can really hit those high notes well as we all experienced at the end. Mind-blowing!

Sue Willetts - Dante Fox

Set list consisted of: 1. Lucky Ones  2. Firing my heart  3. I Cant Sleep  4. Who Stole The Innocence  5. Walking The Line  6. Remember

So, Romeo’s Daughter are back! Consisting of Leigh Matty – vocals, Craig Joiner – guitar, Ed Poole – bass and Andy Wells – drums. The band first came onto the scene way back in 1989 and it’s worth mentioning that back then, their manager thought it a good idea to audition for a female vocalist due to the lack of female’s present in bands around that era. Leigh was picked out of 75 females that auditioned. The band have had various levels of success in the past, noticeably their track “Heaven in the Back Seat” which appeared on the film soundtrack of A Nightmare on Elm Street 5.

Leigh Matty - Romeo's Daughter

Any good AOR band who are worth their salt, have played Nottingham’s Firefest festival and these guys did so back in 2009, after reforming off the back of their first album being re-released and being well received. The band have been recording and touring ever since, with appearances at HRH AOR, Prog Fest and Fairport’s Cropredy Convention as part of their current Rapture Tour which is set to end on the 6th of October at Birmingham’s O2 Academy. Tonight’s set featured several tracks off their latest album Rapture, released in 2012. I could sense the band are extremely proud of this album, as it was mentioned several times throughout this evening. They have also re-released the album “Delectable” this year which, after listening to several times, I can hear a remarkable resemblance to Def Leppard, no surprise then, seeing as DF’s producer, Robert John worked with the band on their first, self titled album.

Ed Poole - Romeo's Daughter

Although tonight’s set was being recorded for a live DVD, I’d say the band looked very relaxed and really enjoyed themselves on stage, as did the crowd stood in front of it. Maybe the stress of performing that they may of encountered when they first formed, some 24 years ago, has been suppressed, leaving them to get on with what they enjoy doing? I certainly enjoyed watching the set, out of the way, on the balcony and stayed throughout the entire set, as the music that was being produced was making me feel good!

Leigh Matty - Romeo's Daughter.

Words and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)