REVIEW: Chantel McGregor, Waterloo Music Bar, Blackpool

Chantel McGregor
Chantel McGregor
Share this article

Going to a Chantel McGregor concert is like walking through a labyrinth - you never know what’s around the corner.

The multi award-winning singer songwriter glides seamlessly through musical genres and styles with the ease of a magician manipulating a deck of cards and the only thing you can be certain of is that, whatever does lie around the next corner, it will be fresh and exciting.

The Bradford-born guitarist is possibly one of the most versatile artists on the circuit and she delivers an eclectic set that is a delight for blues purists, rock fans and lovers of fine music in any genre.

The opening numbers set the scene with their beautifully constructed blues rock energy but this is the closest we are going to get to traditional rhythm & blues all night as, for ‘Caught Out’, the three piece band crank up the volume and hit the heavy button – hard! It is a searing, high octane rock anthem that grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go. As the final deafening chords echo a way the band, as one, exit stage right, leaving Chantel alone and vulnerable on stage to deliver ‘Anaesthetize’, a heart-wrenchingly beautiful and emotionally charged acoustic ballad which perfectly showcases her song writing abilities and stunning vocal range.

If comparisons must be made, her voice brings to mind the likes of Stevie Nicks, Judie Tzuke and Katie Melua at their very very best - powerfully strident one minute and sweetly warm and intimate the next.

But it is the juxtaposition of styles and structures that is the true strength of her music. Unexpected signature changes, conflicting yet wonderfully complimentary rhythms and phrases, complex layered arrangements, soporific acoustic codas and fuzz laden, feedback solos all combine to create a unique sound that pulls the audience in a myriad musical directions at the same time. It’s not so much that Chantel McGregor has torn up the Blues rule book but more a case of her refusing to acknowledge that there were any rules in the first place. ‘Fabulous’ is almost a jazz dance tune and ‘Eternal Dream’ is a power balled that has an almost orchestral feel to it.

Chantel McGregor is innovative, original and groundbreaking. It is easy to see why she has won so many top musical awards in her relatively short career and on the evidence of tonight’s triumphant performance, she will win many, many more.

TONY BARNES