To paraphrase the promoter of this event, this was a ‘new’ idea; people gathering together in a room and listening to music… well the room wasn’t quite full but that was perhaps understandable after 18 months of a pandemic.
was opened by the
stage was The Ryk Mead Band, a blues-rock trio with Ryk Mead (vocals/guitar),
Steve Cooper (bass guitar) and Adam Bond (drums). This was a well crafted set
of electric variations of the blues. Stand out for me was the title track from
the 2015 album ‘
Next, and on
their way up were
The next on bill were three very different female vocalists, Kyla Brox, Dana Gillespie and headliner Chantel McGregor:
Kyla Brox gave us a beautiful set which included ‘Pain And Glory’, title track from the 2019 album, and the auto biographical ‘Bluesman’s Child’ to name a just a few. There was a different twist on Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ with some great guitar work from Paul Farr. Brox’s vocals are amazing, she is one of the best soulful blues singers around and you can clearly hear why she is the reigning European Blues Challenge winner.
Dana Gillespie on the other hand is ‘old school’ blues. After 70 plus albums her set was effortless in its vocals and inter-song banter, all original songs except for just one cover, ‘St Louis Blues’. Hobbling onto stage with crutches, she wasn't going to let a mere recent hip replacement stop her performing. A true professional and a perfect foil for the blues/rock/prog style of Chantel McGregor.
This was Chantel McGregor’s first return to the site of ‘Bury’d Alive’, the 2019 live album was recorded at The Apex. With Colin Sutton on bass and Tom Gardner on drums, the set started with a heavy-rock wall of sound, from the riff laden ’Take The Power’, the frantic ‘Killing Time’ and ‘Like No Other’. At this point the set list went out of the window as Chantel decided to launch into the haunting ‘Eternal Dream’ with its floating guitar sound filling the auditorium. The set contained all the tracks from the live album albeit in a different order, plus some extras like ‘Burn Your Anger’ and ‘I’m No Good For You’. Half way through and left alone onstage Chantel gave some us some gentle acoustic numbers; the smooth notes and soulful voices of ‘Anaesthetise’ and the ballad that is ‘Inconsolable’. With the rest of the band back, the pace picked up with ‘Lose Control’ and ‘Freefalling’ in which McGregor delivered a superb solo. The instrumental ‘April’ showcased Chantel’s wide ranging styles with some epic guitar riffs. All too soon we were at the end. As an encore there was the spell binding ‘Walk On Land’, it closed out what had been a very good day of Blues, Rhythm & Rock. It was nice to be back with live music.
Words: Bronwen Harvey
Photo: Laurence Harvey