Romeo’s Daughter Delivered Moving, Melodic Magnificence In Stoke

Romeo’s Daughter: “Give me guitars, give me a song, and I’ll sing it out loud”. Moving, melodic magnificence from the enduring maestros of the art at Eleven, Stoke.

Romeo’s Daughter

Eleven, Stoke – 15 September 2023

Words: Sophie James

Photography: Jason Samuels

Romeo's Daughter - Eleven, Stoke - 15 September 2023
Romeo’s Daughter – Eleven, Stoke – 15 September 2023. Photo: Jason Samuels/MetalTalk

Bursting onto the melodic rock scene in the mid-’80s, Romeo’s Daughter have consistently created superior, sumptuous melodic rock over the course of their two spells together. The founding duo of distinctive vocalist Leigh Matty and guitarist Craig Joiner are now joined by Steve Drennan and Andy Welsford on bass and drums, respectively.

Romeo's Daughter - Eleven, Stoke - 15 September 2023
Romeo’s Daughter – Eleven, Stoke – 15 September 2023. Photo: Jason Samuels/MetalTalk

The end of August saw the release of latest opus, Slipstream and this month sees them embark on their first run of live promotional dates.

So Friday saw a Northerly jaunt once more to the delightful, wonderfully equipped and welcoming venue that is Eleven on the outskirts of Stoke.

Join Hillbilly Vegas on Tour This July

Romeo's Daughter - Eleven, Stoke - 15 September 2023
Romeo’s Daughter – Eleven, Stoke – 15 September 2023. Photo: Jason Samuels/MetalTalk

The instantly recognisable Heaven (In The Back Seat) initiates the party, with the band and the song being welcomed like cherished friends.

Andy’s drum fill opens Attracted, which goes on to exemplify the crisp, dynamic and heavily melodic nature of the arrangements. The crowd, already on side, embraces that post-chorus chant and are primed to soak up every note, every word. Relaxed and into the groove, Steve’s foot is soon up on the monitor in the classic pose.

Romeo's Daughter - Eleven, Stoke - 15 September 2023
Romeo’s Daughter – Eleven, Stoke – 15 September 2023. Photo: Jason Samuels/MetalTalk

“You know this one. Let’s get going.” Velvet Tongue reached a new level of melodic perfection. A term that is also frequently applied to describe the vocal qualities and textures of the chanteuse. It was perceptible how incredibly luminous she was, her whole face appearing to smile as she revelled in the occasion.

“There is so much love in the room.” The next number was briefly and surreally halted by quite possibly the most unhurried and well-mannered stage ‘invasion’ ever. A lady precariously made her way past a bemused Craig onto the stage, hugging Leigh when she finally got there.

“She’s a sweet lady. She just wanted to say hello.” We ultimately got Bittersweet with the band and audience as one during all the wooah-ohh-ohhhhs, which took it home.

Romeo's Daughter - Eleven, Stoke - 15 September 2023
Romeo’s Daughter – Eleven, Stoke – 15 September 2023. Photo: Jason Samuels/MetalTalk

“I can tell that you’re up for it. This is only our second gig in 18 months – hope it doesn’t show.” Certainly not, sounding fresh and revitalised and about to air the first number from the aforementioned Slipstream.

Fake is very much a riff-driven number which occasionally revealed tantalising shades of Bryan Adams’ Run To You. I adored the line “It Don’t Feel Good, If It Don’t Feel Right”.

Romeo's Daughter - Eleven, Stoke - 15 September 2023
Romeo’s Daughter – Eleven, Stoke – 15 September 2023. Photo: Jason Samuels/MetalTalk

The triumvirate of Radio, Alive and Enemy illustrated that there is no such thing as a mediocre Romeo’s Daughter song. The latter has a classic ’80s feel as it builds into a soaring emotive chorus of the kind that you can lose yourself in by closing your eyes and singing along.

“Back to Slipstream. This is the first one we put out. There are no ‘singles’ anymore.” Over You’s classic melodic construction is turbocharged in a live setting by its gritty riff. Cue dancing and singing down the front with Craig, truly exemplifying his skills on the solo.

Romeo's Daughter - Eleven, Stoke - 15 September 2023
Romeo’s Daughter – Eleven, Stoke – 15 September 2023. Photo: Jason Samuels/MetalTalk

Quite possibly one of the most anthemic pieces they have composed and received most enthusiastically.

The obligatory sirens introduce live favourite Trippin’ Out – “Let’s do this!” – before another endearingly meaty riff propelled Have Mercy.

“Earlier, someone showed us pictures of a gig from 1989. All so depressing. We cried, but such lovely memories.” Colour You A Smile cemented that bond between artist and audience, with Leigh subsequently remarking, “I feel you could have sung this without me.”

Romeo's Daughter - Eleven, Stoke - 15 September 2023
Romeo’s Daughter – Eleven, Stoke – 15 September 2023. Photo: Jason Samuels/MetalTalk

Again, the incisive potency of the guitar propels numbers like Inside Out. Throw in a most delectable outro solo as well, and we are in a state of harmonic bliss.

Time for the band introductions. Considering the opulence of the sound generated with just three instruments accompanying Leigh’s smooth, velvety tones, it feels appropriate that their efforts be recognised and noted here.

“Bass Player Steve has now been with us for four years, but it feels like 40”. The ‘Messianic’ Andy Welsford on Drums (insert Monty Python quotes here) and the precocious talent that is guitarist and songwriter extraordinaire Craig Joiner were the essence of it.

“Back to our first album. This one’s got our name in it.” Always a highlight of a Romeos’ gig when the fans bellow the band’s name at them during the much heftier rendering of I Cry Myself To Sleep At Night.

And finally, the very first ‘proper’ single, Don’t Break My Heart. Finishing on a pealing crescendo, it brought the main set to a close.

Romeo's Daughter - Eleven, Stoke - 15 September 2023
Romeo’s Daughter – Eleven, Stoke – 15 September 2023. Photo: Jason Samuels/MetalTalk

Returning to the stage after “needing gas and air”, Leigh explained, “We decided to put this really old one back in the set. We got a record deal out of this; Mutt Lange liked it too.” Stay With Me Tonight was that song.

I may very well have missed the boat here, but wouldn’t it fuel utter elation among the fanbase if, one day, they celebrated the release of the classic debut by playing it in full? In five Years’ time, on its 40th anniversary perhaps? One can only hope.

Romeo's Daughter - Eleven, Stoke - 15 September 2023
Romeo’s Daughter – Eleven, Stoke – 15 September 2023. Photo: Jason Samuels/MetalTalk

A sincere and heartfelt “Thank you for being such a great audience” prefaced the final introduction of “We always finish on this one.” As if Wild Child needed one, it brought an excellent and hugely enjoyable 90-minute set to a close.

Many will be more familiar with Heart’s version, and irrespective of the extraordinary Ann Wilson’s vocals, I still prefer this original.

Despite their extended absence from the live circuit, there was never a hint of rustiness. They came across as exceedingly sharp with their joyous approach, reciprocating that of a most appreciative audience who departed the venue with an extra spring in their step and a headful of earworms.

In my experience, one of their very best performances.

Romeo's Daughter - Eleven, Stoke - 15 September 2023
Romeo’s Daughter – Eleven, Stoke – 15 September 2023. Photo: Jason Samuels/MetalTalk

If you too wish to experience a most heart-warming evening of driving melodic music in such an amiable atmosphere, then you can do a lot worse than catching them on these remaining 2023 dates:

22 Sep 23: Patriot Home Of Rock – Crumlin
23 Sep 23: The Garage – London
18 Nov 23: Blackbox – Hastings
22 Nov 23: Trillians – Newcastle
23 Nov 23: Winter Storm Festival – Troon
24 Nov 23: Bannermans – Edinburgh
25 Nov 23: Wrecking Ball Arts Centre – Hull

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