Chantel McGregor Brings the Blues to Exeter
I had been looking forward to seeing Chantel McGregor play live since I got my hands on a copy of her latest album, Lose Control. It’s an amazing album and I’ve been waiting to see if Chantel could reproduce it live. When the tour dates were announced I bookmarked the Exeter Phoenix gig and waited patiently for the day. On arriving at the venue I met Chantel at the box office and had a quick chat. Dressed in casual wear, she seemed so relaxed and was looking forward to playing to her many fans. For someone so young she beamed confidence and made time to speak to anyone who recognised her. As she made her way off to get ready I waited patiently in line for the doors to open.
Support on the night came from local lad, Adam Sweet who released his debut album back in late 2013 and is currently working on the follow up. He also fronts local band The Perfect Strangers who are well known in the area. He hit the stage at bang on 8:15 and his forty-minute set was superb. It’s clear to see why his debut album was so highly regarded by those in the industry and as he continues to gain momentum and support slots with popular artists it’s only a matter of time before he is the man being supported. I was that impressed I shall make sure I get hold of a copy of his album, Small Town Thinking as soon as I can.
As Adam left the stage he thanked the crowd and got a warm round of applause and would suggest many of them had seen him play before.
After a short break Chantel and her band made their way onto the Phoenix stage and the wait was finally over. Wasting no time at all they set off with the first song of the night and the feet all around me started tapping. With Chantel on guitar and vocals, Keith McPartling on drums and Colin Sutton on bass they make a pretty formidable line up and create an amazing sound. That said, it’s Chantel the paying crowd have come to see and it’s probably why Colin and Keith’s only involvement is to fill out the sound. Now I don’t mean that in a harsh way. It’s just how it seemed as they had little involvement other than to play along, alought there seemed to be great chemistry and a good vibe emiting from them.
Now the more rocky blues tracks were going down a storm but it was the slower acoustic tracks that I had been wanting to hear played live and after the best part of an hour I got my wish. As Colin and Keith left the stage, Chantel picked up her acoustic guitar and played the arguably the best two songs from her latest album. Concerning the songs “Anaesthetize” and “Home”, I didn’t expect them to sound half as good as they did on the cd but I was left pleasantly surprised and impressed as they sounded just as good live as they had on the album. These two delicate yet beautiful tracks had made the four hour round trip worth the while and I sat with an amazed look on my face. Luckily it was dark so hopefully no one noticed and before the band members rejoined Chantel on the stage the loudest applause of the night came from the gathered crowd who had obviously also been impressed by the beauty of these two songs.
It was at about this point when, just as Chantel was about to announce the next song there was a shout from a member of the crowd. It seemed that the crowd member had got a little confused and was asking for “Specter” the latest bond film. I can only imagine that he thought that Chantel had sung the track but he was mistaken and after some banter between the confused fan and Chantel the band let rip with the intro to James Bond. This had the crowd in raptures as well as the band and the mistaken fan suddenly went quiet.
Several more songs came and went and as Chantel announced this will be the last song I was glad when it turned out to be possibly the best track from the latest album, the somewhat epic “Walk On Land” and again it sounded as good as it does on the album. The song can be likend to a mix of Fleetwood Mac and Pink Floyd and was the perfect way to end the set. I would not be surprised if this song ends Chantel’s set for the rest of her career as it’s just that good. An amazing end to a special and intimate night with one of the UK’s best and most talented musicians.
As I headed towards the exit Chantel and Adam were sat signing things and chatting with fans and again seemed so relaxed as fans spoke of their favourite parts of the night. I thanked them both for an amazing night and made my way home in a happy mood.
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