A new chapter in Nazareth’s long history was captured for posterity at this very special gig. They used Metropolis, one of London’s top studios in a converted power station in Chiswick, to record a live DVD in front of an invited audience, of just 150, many fanatical fans from Europe, in a studio where the crowd were jammed in just five deep.
The past year or so has seen a seismic change in Nazareth’s history as singer Dan McCafferty had to retire through ill-health. With his sandpaper growl forming the trademark Nazareth sound, to step into his shoes and invite comparisons is an unenviable task for anyone.
However fellow Dunfermline native, the bearded Linton Osborn, made sterling work of replacing the irreplaceable. From the moment they opened with a choice album cut in ‘Silver Dollar Forger’, it was clear he could replicate the man’s vocal phrasing and rough-edged voice, even if his own was slightly higher pitched and perhaps not quite as powerfully gritty. He also shares his predecessor’s twinkle-eyed ability not to take things too seriously, though the humour in his links might be seen as cringeworthy by a less loyal audience.
This was always going to be a show with a difference. We were warned that earplugs would be compulsory, and that as a recording, at any stage the show could be stopped although after a second take at ‘Miss Misery’ it flowed flawlessly.
But the other Nazareth hallmarks of Jimmy Murrison’s concise yet soulful guitar riffs and the rock solid rhythm section of the Agnew family Pete and Lee were all still intact, and the early part of the set featured some more recent songs from various albums including the title track of their farewell with Dan, ‘Rock n Roll Telephone’, together with the timeless ‘Razamanaz’.
The set also had to contain a few surprises for the Nazareth diehard, so ‘May The Sun Shine’ and ‘See Me’ were both delivered with acoustic guitar (though I felt the former would have benefited from its original treatment) and they even played their very first single, the retro sounding ‘Dear John’.
In the second half of the set the old classics predominated including ‘Turn On Your Receiver’, ‘Bad Bad Boy’ with some sharp slide guitar playing from Jimmy and ‘Shanghai’d In Shanghai’.
‘Hearts Grown Cold’ took the pace right down until a well-placed power chord at the end but ‘Holiday’ was enjoyable and a new song ‘One Set of Bones’ prove there is still fresh life in them, before the hits ‘This Flight Tonight’ and ‘Broken Down Angel’ had people joyously singing along, the mood having been lightened by the promise of free tequila for all afterwards.
The first encore saw the one mis-step as with equipment giving way under the heat of the studio lights, ‘Hair Of The Dog’ suffered a number of false starts but they closed with the contrasting parts of their repertoire, ‘Love Hurts’ with Linton making a respectable fist at this classic ballad and a hard hitting ‘Expect No Mercy’.
When this very special occasion is captured on DVD it will show the doubters that, even without their iconic front man, there is plenty of life in these old troupers yet.
Review and photos by Andy Nathan
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 23 August 2020.
UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 25 August 2020.
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