DVD review: NAZARETH- No Means of Escape

Eagle Entertainment (Release Date 23.10.15)

This is one DVD that I fully expected to end up on the proverbial cutting room floor. 12 months ago I attended the filming of a special Nazareth live show at Metropolis Studios in front of a select audience of diehard worldwide fans.

It was supposed to be an opportunity to get acquainted with Linton Osborne, who had just inherited the unenviable task of filling Dan McCafferty’s microphone and while not without its hiccups was an enjoyable night. Yet weeks later he parted company with the band and this release takes on a new light as a rare insight into the briefest of chapters in Nazareth’s long history.

This may be why Eagle Entertainment have tried to make it part of a broader package. A number of songs played on the night are omitted, presumably because of the numerous technical difficulties that night, but it is accompanied by a 50 minute documentary, full cuts of the band interviews used and a single song from an acoustic session, which begs the question where the other songs were. In addition artist Rodney Matthews created a new cover which is a sequel to the ‘No Mean City’ album and features in some of the extras.

The quality of the concert film is frankly poor. The bizarre lighting does not help with the band bathed in dark blue, the cameraman seems incapable of remaining on one scene for more than a couple of seconds and frequently the foot of the screen is the back of people’s heads in a manner that amateur uploaders to YouTube will recognise.

In fairness having been in such a small space on the night, I think there was room for an audience or a camera crew, but not both. Moreover both Linton’s between song intros and crowd noise are virtually inaudible.

Reliving the concert, Linton actually did a really good job of the impossible and was a fine singer with vocal inflexions if not the razor sharp power were reminiscent of Dan. However the band do seem rather tentative and it is clear that the chemistry was not right for whatever reason.

The set is a good mix of most of the Greatest Hits (though no Broken Down Angel) and the band belatedly hit their stride with the classic trio of This Flight Tonight, Hair of the Dog, Love Hurts. There are also some rarities with the title track and One Set of Bones form the then current album Rock n Roll Telephone and an acoustic duo of May the Sun Shine and See Me.

However ample consolation is to be had in the ‘Made in Scotland’ documentary, which achieves the near impossible of condensing their 45 year history in a fairly definitive fashion. Interviews with all band members, plus Dan McCafferty, are revealing, while they employ a clever stylistic device of an interview with a sympathetic Scottish journalist who fills in the factual background a narrator normally would.

One weakness though is that a Nazareth-loving friend of mine has complained about the lack of archive live footage and unfortunately even this rockcumentary fails to turn up anything significant. It does not skate over Linton’s departure though, with the news rather poignantly flashed on screen not long after his interview conveys a new boy’s nervous excitement.

One of the other extras that makes this is an interview with fanatical fans who were present at the filming,  including collector extraordinaire Joe Geesin late of GRTR. While they may lap up this package, the concert part of it at least it should come with a health warning ‘for completists only’.

Review by Andy Nathan

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