Rock stars can be a grumpy bunch can’t they? So to go along to a gig, where the performer smiles almost as much as the fans in the front row is a really pleasant change. In fact I’d even suggest that after tonight’s album launch gig, at the 100 Club Chantal McGregor has invented a new genre, “Happy Blues”!
That said, to try and pigeonhole tonight’s performance is actually quite difficult. There’s a smattering of tracks from her debut album which nod more to traditional blues, but the majority of the evening is unsurprisingly devoted to the new album, Lose Control. These tracks definitely have a much harder rock edge to them, almost akin to Royal Blood at some points, and whilst the focus is always going to be on Chantel, its Keith McPartling’s relentless drumming and Colin Sutton’s bass which give the performance this hardcore foundation. There’s musical and comedy interplay between them all through the evening and its clear from get-go that this is a really tight outfit.
Coming on stage barefoot in a black flowing dress, she launches straight into a really thundering version of Caught Out from the debut album (much heavier than the version on the album) before the first new track, Burn Your Anger, with its messages of loss and a broken relationship. However, this is where the love motif is left behind and things move to a more dark, sinister and gothic feel for much of the gig, albeit all performed with Chantel’s glowing smile, and infectious sense of humour.
With so many new tracks there’s a risk that the audience isn’t so engaged with an evening but that definitely wasn’t the case tonight. Every one of the new tracks was greeted with huge enthusiasm, with stand outs for me being the amazing Anaesthetize, and Killing Time, inspired by the TV series Dexter. However the real highlight for me was her version of Robin Trower’s Daydream which as its title suggests, was a surreal wander through a musical landscape of blues, rock and jazz and which drew one of the biggest cheers of the night, even from us hardened band of photographers.
There’s a pace change mid set for some acoustic numbers, including the new track Home (or ’Ome as Chantel quips in her Bradford accent before thankfully pronouncing it in southern English for all us Londoners to understand!) but its then back on the thundering express train of electric numbers including the vampire inspired I’m no Good for You and the set’s closer Walk on Land. Thankfully Chantel manages to persuade Keith and Colin away from the bar for a final encore track Take the Power which is set to be the new album’s opener and which sends the crowd away happy.
As an album launch this was a great showcase and Chantel regularly thanked the people involved in its making and production many of whom were there tonight. Personally I had a great evening and came away with a smile almost as large as Chantel’s. Long live Happy Blues!