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Thursday, 18 April 2013

Review: Chantel McGregor at the Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal

Guitar Demon in Disguise!

     Chantel has been playing the guitar since 3, when she realised that playing the guitar gets a little girl some attention. At 7 she graduated to the electric because the skinnier neck is easier on a wee lass's hands. (I should lend mine to my son!) . Many lessons, a pass in a grade from Rockschool and seven years later, Chantel got the attention of a major label A&R who proceeded to tell Chantel that her style of playing would be intimidating to the boys. Girls like her shouldn't play like that. Moving onto teacher training and then back into music (gaining some impressive music qualifications to say the least!) after some national TV and radio attention, Chantel is back on the road. The British Blues Awards have honoured her twice, with "Young Artist Of The Year", and with "Female Vocalist of the Year".

    I was on holiday with my family near the Lake District in the Easter break and saw that Chantel was playing at the Kendal Arts Centre, so we got tickets on a friend's recommendation.

    A quick word about the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal. A really pleasant place with the Vats Bar and the Grainstore Restaurant. We found the restaurant a pleasant contrast to some of the "seen you coming" places around the Lakes. The food was priced as it should be and was really delicious. We over-ordered after the previous night being still hungry after a meal in an overpriced "country inn". In fact we were utterly stuffed. Our son had the pizza of the day, with local sausages and roast peppers, and a garlic bread and cheese, which was full pizza size. The hubby and I had the hot smoked salmon and salad with beetroot relish. Very pleasant indeed. So glad I got the small size as my son needed assistance with that garlic bread. The Centre sells some lovely local real ales, which I sadly had to avoid as I had a scary drive through bendy country lanes back to Kirkby Stephen to look forward to.

That's enough about our dinner, what about the gig?
Chantel McGregor by Jowheretogo

    When we recovered (we arrived very early thankfully) we headed into the main theatre. There was no support band due to a misunderstanding, but Chantel took to the stage and grabbed the attention of the audience the way only a sweetly petite lady with the guitar skills of......no I'm not going to name any one of the male metal guitar masters to compare her to. Why should I? She is possessed of a rare talent and worked-for skill and the ability to make a guitar talk, or scream, or sing. Her mastery of that instrument is astounding. Chantel has a great band around her as well, loved the bass and rhythm section.
    My son sat there open-mouthed as she worked through her repertoire which included songs from her excellent album from 2011, "Like No Other". "Fabulous" the first song on there, about being a young lady getting tarted up and psyched up for the weekend, is perhaps the most commercial of the songs. Chantel doesn't shy away from covers either. She has been known to make improvements to Lady Gaga tracks and at Kendal she performed a storming version of Jimi Henrix's Voodoo Chile.
    There is some much going on on the album:  changes in style but always with outstanding guitar playing and vocals, and an instinctive bluesy theme. Chantel gained several new fans that night, judging from the queue at the merch stall, and rightly so. Chantel has a unique style as a performer and deserves much greater recognition. Check out her website for news: http://www.chantelmcgregor.com/.

    You can see Chantel in the Northeast soon. She's at the Darlington Music Forum on the 3rd May and at the Durham Blues Festival on the 23rd June. That will be great summer festival.



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