Chantel McGregor - LIVE: The New Crawdaddy Blues Club, Billericay 2015

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Lose Control Tour
August 28 (21:35 - 23:00)
Capacity 200

With her sophomore record due out in October, and the promotional tour supporting it starting in mid-September, this show in Essex was the last night of Chantel McGregor's regular UK dates previewing material from the forthcoming album.

Support came from local bluesman Dave Ferra, who delivered a superb set of both covers and originals. Ferra's guitar playing (on a resonator), harmonica, and voice are all perfect examples of the delta blues style, and while he probably needs to brush up on some of his stage banter, the whole audience were thoroughly entertained by his authentic playing.

It's fair to say that when Lose Control, Chantel McGregor's new album, arrives in October, it will be lauded as her finest material to date. And if these preview shows are anything to go by, she is also very proud of the songs as all but one were included in the set with one cover, and four from debut album Like No Other.

In blues, a lot players have a very single-track idea of what it is they should be doing. From the likes of Philip Sayce, who thinks everything needs to be a radio-worthy melodic sing-along, to Walter Trout who barely plays any actual songs live in favour of non-stop shredding, a lot of blues shows can be a bit one dimensional. But some players, of which Yorkshire's McGregor is one, do what they want to do, and what the songs require. So when Walk On Land, the new album's closing track, sees Chantel spend the last few minutes soloing furiously, it's necessary. And when the acoustic guitar comes out for beautifully unaccompanied renditions of new ballads Anaesthetise and Home, it's necessary.

And everything in between too. The heavy southern grooves of Your Fever and Southern Belle sound particularly beefy live, while older songs like Fabulous and I'm No Good For You sound like they've been bulked up a bit to match the new tracks. Chantel has also improved a great deal on stage in the last few years. When touring the first album her sets gave the impression of being quite unplanned, loosely based around a setlist but mostly consisting of songs chosen on a whim, or being missed out because they'd been forgotten. That may not have actually been the case, but it was how it appeared. Now, while she maintains her trademark friendly stage chat, she does it with an aura of someone who really knows what she's doing. Everything about the sets now feels deliberate, and the show flows from rocking highs to gently lows naturally and fluidly.

With a good range of material now so that cover songs are kept to a minimum, Chantel provides one of the most original live blues shows around. Her playing is crisp, precise, full of feeling, and best of all she sings properly, instead of slurring all her words to feign emotion like so many others do. The full tour for Lose Control kicks off in September with an album launch show in London and runs all the way through October as Chantel continues to put the leg work in to support one of the best new blues albums of the year.

“ flows from rocking highs to gently lows naturally and fluidly ”

Setlist: Caught Out / Burn Your Anger / Like No Other / Southern Belle / Lose Control / Daydream / Fabulous / Anaesthetise / Home / Killing Time / I'm No Good For You / Your Fever / Walk On Land // Take The Power

Photo(s): Andy Lye

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2015, Blues, Gigs,

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