Chantel McGregor the award-winning guitarist (several times over in the UK) from Bradford, England stopped off in Glasgow at the ABC2 as part of the UK leg of her tour (she is heading to Europe soon, including Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic amongst others). With no support, it was an evening just with the lady and her band themselves. Before the show, she was happily mingling with fans chatting away and having photos taken. This was something that no doubt would have happened after as well. The wonderful thing is that her onstage persona is the same. Friendly, fun and engaging, happy to take on board any shouts from the crowd and answer them with a cheeky smile.
Chantel was almost her own support as she came onstage by herself to sing the acoustic tracks from her last and latest album Lose Control in firstly “Home” and then “Anaesthetize”. Bare, emotional and vocally sounding fragile yet powerful at the same time. Between the two songs, she made a comment about not being able to see anyone due to the lighting positions. Some wag in the crowd shouted back “just as well”, to which Chantel laughed and remarked that we shouldn’t put ourselves down.
The band joined her during the third song of the night “Inconsolable” (again there was chat and banter with someone in the crowd who shouted he was actually “inconsolable”) where she started on acoustic but switched halfway through to electric for some stunning soloing. There were some great moments of looks and smiles between her and bass player Colin Sutton as they were enjoying the moment live onstage.
More onstage fun during “Lose Control” where she started photobombing with silly expressions at some in the crowd taking photos of themselves with the stage in the background. The sort of thing that can annoy, but the band (and especially Chantel herself) utilized it as part of the gig itself. Both the band and audience were laughing. It is that interaction that makes a live gig an event.
“Freefalling” had someone shout out that she was “awesome” to which she smiled demurely and said thanks! Although it is a rock song it is very commercial sounding and makes me wonder why she hasn’t had more radio airplay when she can write something this good and easy on the ear.
However, Chantel and the band (also featuring Ollie Goss on drums) can rock out with the best of them as shown in songs like “Burning Anger” and the ominous sounding “Caught Out” from the first album, Like No Other.
Most interesting is the new track “April” which goes into different territory from what has gone before. A lengthy (around 10 minutes) instrumental which has a very progressive rock feel, starting quite Pink Floyd-ish building into some heavy soloing where Chantel looks absolutely lost in the moment. She really seems to throw herself into the track, headbanging and throwing shapes, at one point almost doubled up guitar pointing straight down to the floor. If this is a taste of what is to come then perhaps the audience might change a little as some blues purists may not quite get it. Personally, I am excited being such a lover of progressive music.
Other highlights included the funky rocking fun of ”I’m No Good For You” and “Fabulous” from the first album. That along with diversions in between songs regarding dentists (apparently there was one in the front area) and birthing cows! I suppose you had to be there.
This was a terrific night with a variety of sounds and styles, some serious rocking and quite a few laughs. No two shows are really ever the same as she interacts with the audience and goes with the flow. It is like spending an evening with a good friend who is fun to be with, except one that is also supremely talented. I look forward to album number three and the tour to follow. All I can say is if she visits a town near you get along as you are guaranteed an excellent night!