Review & photos by David Waterfield
It’s always a pleasure to see Chantel McGregor here in the Midlands and Wednesday night at the Robin 2 represented the final stop on her current UK tour.
Supporting Chantel were local band Brothers Groove. The Birmingham based four piece opened with a cover of The Meters R&B classic ‘Cissy Strut’ before delivering a set of self-penned material. Guitarists Shaun Hill and Nigel Mellor alternated between playing rhythm and lead and laid down some soulful solos over a tight rhythm section. The band has a great vibe about them and I really enjoyed their set. It was my first encounter with Brothers Groove but they’re definitely a band I intend to see again.
Chantel McGregor is one of those artists that you have to see live in order to fully appreciate. Ably backed by Rich Ritchie (bass) and Keith McPartling (drums) the audience at the Robin 2 were treated to an evening of spectacular blues guitar from Chantel. Her extended take on Jethro Tull’s ‘A New Day Yesterday’ was superb, with Chantel tearing off impressive riffs and blistering solos before skipping and twirling around the Robin 2 stage like it was the easiest and most natural thing in the World!
The majority of the evening’s set was built around Chantel’s debut album Like No Other – a surprisingly diverse album which incorporated elements of rock, blues and power pop and demonstrated not only Chantel’s guitar prowess but her emerging ability as a singer/songwriter. ‘Help Me’ grooved along nicely and the title track was another set highlight, but the inclusion of a new song (‘Disco Lover Suicide’) was welcome and gave an indication of where her second album might be heading.
Chantel’s bubbly, down to earth personality charmed the Robin 2 audience and her spontaneity and delightful turn of phrase is something that you can’t help but warm to. Three songs performed solo on acoustic guitar, including a sensitive rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rhiannon’ and Bruno Mars’s ‘Grenade’ evoked a gentler more introspective mood before the upbeat ‘Fabulous’ and the riff-driven ‘Freefalling’ rounded the evening off in fine style.
Chantel was happily signing tickets, flyers and CDs at her merchandise stall before and after her set and it was good to see a strong turnout at the Robin 2 as her popularity continues to grow. Chantel will be supporting Mostly Autumn on selected dates later in the year, which will doubtless win her even more fans, but in the meantime evenings like this only serve to cement her fast growing reputation.