Chantel McGregor returned to Bannerman’s Bar in Edinburgh as part of a short northern tour in advance of her new live album Bury’d Alive recorded I believe in Bury St Edmunds hence the title.
A healthy crowd turned up on a Tuesday night to see the lady and her band perform songs from both albums as well as some new material. They opened with the title track of the last album “Take The Power” followed by “Killing Time” also from that album. What got me was the power (no pun intended) of the band, they came over as real “power trio”, I am sure I was rattling standing near the speakers. There were a few little technical issues and sound problems on the night, but as expected they were dealt with and sorted with good grace and a few laughs and jokes. There is no way you do not get proper entertainment at a Chantel gig and this was no different.
The crowd was quieter than normal I thought, with fewer shouts from them, but without doubt their appreciation was shown by spontaneous outbursts of applause at the end of some solos which wowed them and the general reception at the end of each song.
There was a decent split between the two albums out with Chantel deciding what to play as she went along. Full credit to her band both Colin on bass and Tom on drums who went with the flow keeping the event fresh and interesting. At one point Chantel asked the rest of the band “should we do…?” only to be answered by Colin with “As though this is a democracy” with a grin on his face. It is OK as Colin got some abuse back regarding his wearing a leather jacket before he came onstage. He said he was wearing it “for style” just to be told “it didn’t work” by Chantel. I enjoy seeing a band banter and have fun onstage.
The other noticeable thing is that they improvise quite a bit, sure there is the odd mistake but again the smiles winks and nods between the members as they get over them and reach out to try something else different within a song makes each gig a true experience. The playing is excellent and they have a trust among each other and when one of them does something that adds to the night there are smiles all round.
There are some moments of pure emotion especially in the solos, including some fantastic playing on “Eternal Dream” and the absolute gut-wrenching version of “Inconsolable” where both the guitar and Chantel seemed to go through the wringer. It seemed on the night that the song and the solo affected her and to be honest the crowd as well. Very rare to see such raw emotion on a stage. The fact someone gave her a napkin after it (there were jokes about it not being a hanky) tells you all you need to know about that moment in time.
There was also a couple of acoustic tracks played and we were told that there was an acoustic album coming out also in the near future. They are mostly songs already recorded but with different slants or styles. The two and a half songs on acoustic guitar were placed around the middle of the set.
The variety of material is interesting, making Chantel hard to categorize, with some real jam sessions and yet moments of almost pure pop with a jazz touch. A couple of songs are cheeky sounding and her facial expressions are very effective. I am thinking primarily of “Your Fever”, “Fabulous”, a song she said “you can dance to” and “I’m No Good For You” which she remarked was a “blues track… oh I said the B-word” whilst laughing. To counterbalance that there is something like “April” which is improvised, or at least quite a bit of it, the track is never the same any night.
Once again an excellent evening with a very talented lady along with a very fine band in a venue which we were asked to support by Chantel due to it being one of her favorite venues to play. All I can say if she is playing near you get along, you will have a great night.
Just a few words for support Stoney Broke, a singer songwriter from the borders in Scotland who not only played some well-written songs but had plenty of friendly chat, warming the crowd up nicely on the evening. A very engaging and talented chap well worth checking out if you get the chance. He has an EP which I will add the link for underneath.
Stoney Broke Website (link to buying music on site)