Dante Fox + Lost Weekend @ Lucy’s Bar, Hednesford – Friday 19th April 2013

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Review by Woody, photos by Mark Lloyd

This is my second visit to new local music venue Lucy’s Bar in Hendesford, it’s a venue I really took a shine to on my first visit so I’m quite excited to see two bands there tonight who take me back to my youth. Both Dante Fox and Lost Weekend emerged onto the British underground melodic rock scene in the mid 90’s and it’s great to see them performing again.

Lost Weekend have been an ever present band over the past 16+ years of the scene, regularly releasing albums with principal songwriters vocalist Paul Uttley and guitarist Dave Thompson even managing to have time to write songs for Bob Catley’s solo album The Spirit of Man. Tonight’s acoustic show features a slimmed down line up of Paul, Dave and the welcome return of keyboard player Irvin Parratt.

8668133479_aa86f1d1e4_nI had forgotten what a great band Lost Weekend are, their acoustic set by nature was a laid back affair, but was totally engrossing and enjoyable. The guys were obviously well rehearsed and their selection was well chosen as every song came across stunningly well. Paul’s voice was as distinctive and as emotive as ever, something I felt was missing on the band’s last album Fear & Innocence where the vocals seemed too clean and devoid of Paul’s usual distinct vocal style, so it’s great to hear him back to his best.

The beauty of acoustic shows is that it can allow guitarists to show off their technical abilities and show a more intricate style to their playing. Dave relished this and some of those riffs sounded even better in this format than when plugged in! Irvin’s keyboards were nice and high in the mix and he excelled on the tracks previewed from the band’s forthcoming album Evermore.

Lost Weekend took this opportunity to play a trio of songs from the upcoming Evermore and all were really impressive and seemed to signal a return to the more overtly AOR roots of the band. The touching ballad ‘Angel Sublime’ got a great reaction from the crowd and the wonderfully catchy ‘Be Who You Wanna Be’ made my anticipation for the new album really peak.

However, the song that really gained my interest of the three was the second song of the evening which I think is called ‘Love Will Find You’ which really struck me and I immediately thought the sound echoed the bands more straight ahead melodic rock beginnings. On their previous album Fear & Innocence, they had ventured into more classic rock sounding territory akin to UFO so given the vibe of tonight’s new songs I wouldn’t be surprised if the new album veers more towards the melodic rock sound most associate with the band. Irvin’s keyboards on this song in particular were quite delicious!

The band were allocated a nice set length so managed to get quite a few songs in, including, ‘Faith’, ‘Shining Star’, ‘The Eagle’,‘Stone Hearted Woman’, ‘Back Street Livin’, ‘Beautiful Mind’ (which was written for Bob Catley) and the wonderful ‘All Hands To The Fire’ from my favourite Lost Weekend album Presence of Mind.

Hopefully they will get a few live shows or Festivals to promote Evermore and you should definitely take the time to go and check them out.

I’ve been a big fan of Dante Fox since they came onto the scene way back when but believe it or not I have never ever seen the band perform a headline show, it’s always been Festivals or support slots. So tonight is a rare treat for me.

In many ways tonight was probably the best I’ve ever heard the Fox. The sound at Lucy’s really did showcase their songs and musicianship in the best possible light and it’s a real shame that there weren’t more in attendance to hear the band in fine form! They may be used to being a support act but they really grabbed the bull by the horns tonight and delivered a fantastic and musically diverse headline show.

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If I’m honest nostalgia did get the better of me tonight and I thoroughly revelled in their older material, in particular the back to back offering of ‘Lost & Lonely’, ‘Under The City Lights’ and ‘I Can’t Sleep’. We also heard ‘Lucky Ones’, ‘Firing My Heart’, ‘Breakin Me Down’,‘Goodbye To Yesterday’, ‘Lost Man’s Ground’, ‘The Last Goodbye’ and ‘Who Stole the Innocence’.

Singer Sue was on top form, as everyone has come to expect from her live. She pours so much effort into her vocal delivery and given the quality of her performance tonight that effort is plain to hear!

8669237130_885deb6c11_nAlthough Sue is well known for her powerful rock vocal it’s actually on the beautiful ballad ‘Secrets’ that we hear what she is truly capable of – it’s not about power it’s about emotion and goose bump inducing vocal melodies. She really does put more well known vocalists to shame with her emotive and stirring voice, and although she won plaudits for her powerful rock vocal on the heavier edged Under Southern Skies it is actually on the more melodic songs that we hear the true beauty of Sue’s voice. She really went for it on this song pouring herself into it; I suspect it may be a favourite of Sue’s given her strong and emotive delivery and the highlight of the whole evening!

Guitarist Tim Manford is a consistently strong, excelling live on the heavier material that gives him chance to belt out some chunky and driving riffs. I think, though, that what really got me tonight was the quality of Tim’s solos. He frequently took centre stage to belt out a solo and the crystal clear sound at Lucy’s really made the jaw drop when he came to the fore! Drummer Andy Perfect and bass man Al Mill’s years of live experience is evident in their cool and relaxed stage presence. I have to say it was excellent to see keyboardist Pete Lakin actually onstage this time after him been relegated to the side of stage at The Slade Rooms last year. It may not be a huge stage at Lucy’s but its big enough to get a keyboard player on – although I thought it was a bit cheeky to insist on having three keyboards! I may have dribbled a little bit when I saw the keyboard stand… but I ain’t confessing to nowt!

8668138333_a4cf8e53d0_nAs a live band Dante Fox have come on leaps and bounds and although some have criticised their stage craft in the past the amount of live work and experience in recent times really shows as the Fox are now far more at home on stage! They round off their set with ‘Remember’ which the band have finally ground me down on and I am starting to really enjoy as part of their set. They leave the stage briefly before returning for the encore of ‘Walkin The Line’ which sees the band leave to loud applause from the small but loyal and appreciative crowd.

It’s great to see Dante Fox so active and I can’t wait to see them perform live again!

 

See more of Mark’s photos here;