Chantel McGregor + Alabany Down @ The Robin2, Bilston – Wednesday 13th June 2012


Review by David Waterfield and photos by Rob Stanley

Wednesday night at the Robin2 witnessed the welcome return of the fabulous Chantel McGregor to the West Midlands.

Support came from four piece band Albany Down. I must confess that I knew absolutely nothing about them beforehand but they quickly settled into an enjoyable and impressive blues groove.

Highlights of their nine song set were “Working Man”, “South of the City” and a surprisingly effective blues cover of the Duffy hit “Mercy”. Albany Down are a very good blues-rock band and well worth investigating if you get the chance.

At the Cambridge Rock Festival last year Chantel McGregor was introduced as “A brilliant guitarist with a beautiful soul” and it’s hard to think of a more accurate description. There is a lightness and a joy about Chantel onstage that is infectious and her delightful, bubbly, down to earth personality has won over every audience I’ve seen her play to.

On top of all that Chantel McGregor just so happens to be an exceptional guitar player! A fluid and energetic rhythm section of Andy Mapplebeck and Richard Ritchie (on drums and bass respectively) provided a launch pad for an evening of incendiary blues guitar from Chantel, whether that was covering Richie Kotzen (“High”), Jimi Hendrix (“Voodoo Chile”) or her own self- penned material. She even chucked in a bit of “Wurm” from “Starship Trooper “ which was an unexpected pleasure for an old Yes fan like me!

A solo acoustic interlude halfway through the set saw Chantel perform the Hendrix classic “All Along The Watchtower” followed by a sensitive interpretation of Lady Ga Ga’s “Edge Of Glory”. Although it’s her ability as a musician that often takes the plaudits, Chantel also possesses a pleasant voice which, like her playing, comes from the heart.

Chantels’s previous local gigs at the Robin2 (and prior to that Wolverhampton’s Slade Rooms) have been predominantly all seated affairs. It was good to see that abandoned tonight, not only because it generated a better atmosphere but also because it’s an indication that Chantel’s audience is continuing to grow.

A two song encore of “Like No Other” and “Freefalling” brought the evening to a close before Chantel decamped to the edge of the stage to meet her fans and to sign CDs and flyers.

Chantel McGregor is a technically gifted young guitarist who plays with real emotion and the crowd at the Robin2 loved her. A big, bright and “spangly” future beckons!


 Check out the rest of Rob’s photos from the gig below: