Thursday 31st October 2015
The Engine Shed in Lincoln, UK
Review & Photography by Mark Holmes
A year on from when she last exercised her chops in The Platform at Lincoln's Engine Shed, Chantel McGregor finds herself back in the cathedral city on Halloween night 2015. With her sophomore album, 'Lose Control', recently unleashed to widespread critical praise, its overarching Southern Gothic theme seems like apt conceptual fodder with which to entertain those present, with tales of vampires, cults and serial killers et al. In fact, Chantel, along with her rhythm section of sticksman Keith McPartling and bassist Colin Sutton, have fully embraced Samhain's dark fantasies in their appearance. The lady herself is attired in a long, flowing Gothic dress, with her visage clearly that of a vampire, while Colin dons a werewolf mask (although crowd heckles suggest some believe him to resemble a spaniel more), and Keith's guise is... well, just monstrous... and it's a monstrous performance he puts in behind his kit in The Platform.
Showcasing material from 'Lose Control', along with tracks from her debut album, 'Like No Other', the trio of musicians, tonight, offer up a masterclass in how to convey raw rock energy through an impressively tight performance. Likewise, Chantel's fretboard skills, while technically precise and undoubtedly virtuosic, have a naturally affective fluency... untamed, yet simultaneously tamed... and she fills The Platform with the emotionally stirring tonality and expression of her many solo spots (and voice). Amongst the material, old and new, aired tonight, Lincoln's crowd are also treated to a lengthy innovative instrumental piece that Chantel states is "something we've been experimenting with", that currently has no definitive name. After a couple of minutes of suggestions from punters, she settles on 'Spaniels Rock'... in tribute to Colin's semi-failed Teen Wolf guise! While it feels like particular passages of this new track are jammed out before our very eyes and ears, with Chantel sporadically conducting Keith's tempos and rhythms with various hand gestures, this is a progressive masterpiece in the making. And the reaction it receives at its climax is overwhelming. Should Chantel opt to take a more progressive path with her music in the future then she can rest assured it's a route people will love. And she looks genuinely chuffed by the rapturous reception.
A mid-set mellower interlude sees Chantel perform a couple of more stripped down numbers, in the form of new album tracks 'Anaesthetise' and 'Home'; the latter is particularly poignant through its delivery this evening. However, the atmosphere is marred ever so slightly by a few inconsiderate people who deem it acceptable to natter away to each other, and a couple of women near the stage are ridiculously vociferous (and, clearly, totally pissed). It prompts Chantel to emphasise between these two songs that they're three minutes long and quiet, and if people want to have a chat then there's a bar next door. To be fair, ninety percent of people in attendance respect and exercise the unspoken rules of gig etiquette, so it's only the oblivious few who seem to lack any notion of self-awareness (have some respect, people, for artist and your fellow punter).
Anyway, despite a temporarily soured atmosphere, the night's a pretty jovial occasion, helped along by Chantel's frequent between-song banter. This includes impromptu, fleeting jams of themes from 'The Addams Family' (which was only learnt in sound check, she claims), and 'The Munsters' (by just Keith and Colin), as well as introducing just about every song as being about a vampire! The night ends with the progged-up 'Walk On Land' and an encore outing for the cult-themed 'Take the Power', the latter of which is preceded by Keith's hard-hitting (literally) drum intro, before exploding in all its raw rock glory. And cults are an apt note on which to end the night as just about everyone present (save for the nattering cretins) seem to have been under Chantel's spell this evening. A superlative performance from an ever-evolving artist, she most certainly has taken the power... and is primed to become a much more powerful force in both the rock and prog scenes in the future.
Click on thumbnails for larger images:
Chantel McGregor in The Platform at The Engine Shed in Lincoln, UK, 31st October 2015
Photograph copyright © 2015 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com