Chantel McGregor back at The Tunnels
16th December 2015
Chantel McGregor back at The Tunnels in Bristol on her current tour promoting her sparkling guitar playing and her current album Lose Control. Chantel tonight, despite back pain was full of smiles and a shimmering determination to play loud, hard and with her twist of Gothic Southern Rock with a glimmer of blues.
The set list was full of guitar twists and turns full on riffs and licks that delight the ear with a selection of firm favourites and new music that certainly got the Tunnels in a party mood. The tone was set from the off with Freefalling that got the phalanx of fans in the mood to partake in spangly rock from Chantel. The sound was definitely rockier overall and this does suit her guitar style and her vocals poured out above the guitar like a cooling waterfall, a wonderful combination.
Having heard and reviewed her latest album I was delighted to hear the tracks live they really work on a stage up close to a crowd that what to hear every note played and lyric sung. Burn Your Anger was really impressive as was Southern Belle, Gothic Southern rock with a tinselly trail of the blues running through the whole number. Tonight she hit Bristol with power chords that slur and grind out a melodic sound with her feminine vocals full of purity this is a combination that wins every time.
Tonight Colin Sutton on Bass rocked the rhythm section and held amusing conversations with Chantel, it was definitely a first for any conversation or gig to have Unicorns, Haggis and Otters in the same conversation. This had to be the warm up act for Chantel going progressive with the closing track of Lose Control, Walking On Land – what a land of imaginative guitar playing that Chantel took us too. I believe in unicorns when the music is this good. This was an instrumental that added a new facet to the show, Chantel’s guitar playing is virtuoso and her style is distinctly hers as she blends and shapes her influences into her own guitar story. The title track Lose Control is a winner once again Chantel controls the energy of the guitar bending the strings to play her tune.
The tempo and tone changed as Chantel took up the acoustic guitar and we heard Anesthetise transporting you into a different reality no-one would have been surprised if an unicorn stepped on the stage to keep her company as Colin and Andy had left the stage. This is a song driven by lyrics full of haunting tones delivered by her Taylor acoustic. Then Home also from Lose Control suits this format perfectly and closing this segment with Eternal Dream inspired by her hero Jeff Buckley.
The rest of the band returned to the stage with the tempo going up to eleven and the electric guitar rules once again with Your Fever and Killing Time amongst the closing numbers. No wonder the encore, has had lots of airplay across the radio stations and especially Planet Rock as Take The Power is what Chantel does every time her fingers hits the six strings!
Anyone who hadn’t already purchased Lose Control was now hooked on this new sound that Chantel was playing with a new sense of maturity, control fizzed up with the effervescent energy that is Chantel McGregor.
Chantel McGregor thank you for sparing the time in your busy tour schedule and the exciting launch of your new album Lose Control and it was fun chatting with you.
While reading this listen to the the first single from Lose Control – “Take The Power”, is released on Monday September 28th, and is accompanied by a promo video filmed on location in Edinburgh, produced by Sine Wave Media and directed by Richard Weston.
BD: Chantel tell us a little bit about the journey from your debut album to now, your music has changed Lose Control is testament to a pit stop on the road of your musical development?
CMcG:My debut album, Like No Other was a response to demand for an album and was a collection of songs some first written when I was fourteen. Since the release of my debut album I have played a lot and thought a lot resulting in Lose Control – a cohesive, concept album the songs all made sense together and yes some of the lyrics and songs are very dark. I have always been attracted to the dark side of art, novels and films, life is disturbing plus being frothy is not me and it is hard to write about love when not in love…
BD: Lose Control – the difficult second album has a cohesive feel and a different tone and feel. How have you achieved this mature sound?
CMcG:In a way this feels like a first album, it really is my baby, I wrote all the songs with a little help from some friends on a couple of tracks. I had input into the album every step of the way it was in my control before and in the studio I had a clear vision of the shape and sound of Lose Control.
BD: Are there any particular songs you play that have a special meaning to you?
CMcG:Actually it is the reverse I don’t play Eternal Dream live, it needs space and can’t do this number with the number of people who talk at gigs especially when it is a quieter song.
BD: Talking at Gigs!
CMcG:Yes, why do people go to a live music then talk, it is not in my personality to tell them to shut UP!
BD: I see that you have created your own independent boutique record player Tis Rock Music; what made you decide to go down this route?
CMcG:I recorded my debut album on Tis Rock Music as well. I made the decision to set up my own label, so I had the freedom to pay what I liked, wear what I like be my own musician.
BD: So created own record label to have control over your own art?
CMcG: Yes, absolutely there were too many people telling me how I should play, and not to wear dresses on stage. I love wearing my dresses, and did not want to wear jeans on stage, I make an effort to dress up for stage performances so that I feel different. People are always surprised if they see me before a show in jeans and a jumper. So Tis Rock Music simply allows me to be the Chantel McGregor I want to be.
BD: You are back on tour can you buy the album at shows?
CMcG:The release date is 9th October – and it is available to pre-order along with some snazzy T-shirts.. check out the web-site
BD: Talking about the new album and sound have you used different strings/ guitars Amplifiers?
CMcG:No I haven’t similar to the set up on the last studio recording. What I have done is lots of experimenting, exploring the idea of sound it was self-produced at home initially the domo’s shaped the finished studio product. There are more layers of sound and distortion this is an album played at 11.
BD: Do you consider yourself as a guitarist first, vocalist second or they equally important
CMcG:I started off playing a guitar it was a natural thing to pick up the guitar, by the age of eight I was the youngest to pass a Rock School Exam, and at 12 I was jamming. Whilst jamming I realised that I also need to learn to sing so started to sing Corrs and Cheryl Crow songs. The next challenge was learning to sing and play guitar at the same time, once mastered I know I was seen as a guitarist who sang a bit. On the first album I had had my wisdom teeth out and could open my mouth properly but that didn’t help. Now I have a mature stronger voice and Lose Control I see myself as both aspects of my music are equal the singing of the lyrics are as important as the guitar chords.
BD: Do you consider yourself as a rock or blues guitarist or do music boxes not matter once you pick up your instrument of choice?
CMcG:Boxes shouldn’t matter but there is always public perception, personally like to be seen as ‘she plays music’ and hopefully they think it is good. In reality I have never said I play the blues, or a blues guitarist to me it is Chantel music. Blues has evolved into rock, and yes people like putting your music into boxes.
BD: As an award winning guitarist do you still come across the male naysayers – girls can’t/shouldn’t play guitar?
CMcG:(Laughs, and sighs) All the time it is totally insane I get this all the time, there is no physical reason, yes I have tiny hands but so do men – look a Prince. It is a pre-conception and it is a conception that belongs to the stone-age that women should be tied to the kitchen sink, sadly seems like it will always be the case why? It’s tradition! The gender gap is closing women are doing their own thing I’m here I play guitar, I sing get used to it. My message to men is No I am not a bitch I am a musician.
BD: What are you looking forward to on this tour, is there going to be an opening act and I see that in between the UK dates you are off to Europe.
CMcG: Yes, love it so exciting Europe during November and December, and yes Europe is different. It is going to be fun, German audiences are always very vocal and into going to see live music at their local venue. UK lots of new venues, many are theatre style so a different vibe from standing venues and will be mixing up the sets as many people come to see more than one night, it is amazing that people travel so far to see me play. Love audiences meeting different people and the improvised solo on Walk On Land the final track of Lose Control will be different every time I play.
BD: Who has influenced you the most in your music writing and playing?
CMcG:Not one person or even one style of music though the guitar playing by Richie Kotzen is inspirational as is Ryan Adams.
BD: When not playing your own music who do you listen too?
CMcG: Lots often just listen to random on Spotify, Jazz, Dubstep what has just been released. If you only listen to Rock, Blues, acoustic you will never be the best you can. Form your own opinion on music for me it is about keeping an open mind listen to varied styles and absorb what you like.
BD: What advice have you had and what advice will you pass on?
CMcG:I have had loads advice some good and some bad; I have even listened to bad advice you learn more if you step back and make your own decision. I have had brilliant advice support from Joe Bonamassa and so many others it is brilliant how artists share. It is so important to be business-minded and astute if offered a deal is it the right one for me. It is scary how easily it is to be taken in by people you trust. In reality it is a hard business despite loads of gigs you have even more expenses and you have to love what you are doing and keep on working and be true to your own convictions.
BD: If you were putting together the perfect band with members from across the years (dead or alive) who would you have playing
CMcG:(Laughing, a moment’s thought) The band I have now they are totally insane she says with a beaming smile! It is what it is a three piece rock band; myself on guitar and vocals then the most amazing Rhythm section Keith McPartling on Drums and Colin Sutton on Bass giving me the space to create yes cello’s are great in the studio where you can have everything and the sound is balanced and there is space. Live it is different the three of us are perfect more and it can be hard to get space.
Bluesdoodles thanks Chantel for her time and catch her on tour and listen to Lose Control – I know you will not be disappointed. Read what we said about Lose Control HERE
Thursday 1st October 2015 – Birmingham: The Institute, The Temple
Friday 2nd October 2015 – Ruislip: The Tropic
Friday 9th October 2015 – Halifax: Playhouse
Saturday 10th October 2015 – Southport: The Atkinson Blues Festival
Friday 16th October 2015 – Doncaster: The Dome
Saturday 17th October 2015 – Retford: The Elms – Box Office: 07737 130534
Wednesday 21st October 2015 – Sheffield: Greystones
Thursday 22nd October 2015 – Edinburgh: The Caves – Box Office: 01472 349222
Friday 23rd October 2015 – Glasgow: Nice N Sleazy
Saturday 24th October 2015 – Carlisle: The Venue
Monday 26th October 2015 – Salisbury: Arts Centre
Tuesday 27th October 2015 – Exeter: Phoenix
Wednesday 28th October 2015 – Bridport: Arts Centre
Thursday 29th October 2015 – Brighton, Komedia
Saturday 31st October 2015 – Lincoln: Engine Shed
Saturday 12th December 2015 – Ripley, Town Hall
Sunday 13th December 2015 – Newcastle, The Cluny
Monday 14th December 2015 – Morecambe, The Platform
Tuesday 15th December 2015 – Leeds, The Brudenell
Wednesday 16th December 2015 – Bristol, The Tunnels
Thursday 17th December 2015 – Derby, The Flowerpot