To me it is obvious that the writer of this article isn`t too fond of rock music. So it is a bit surprising, and also pleasing, to see that he remains objective in his review. This review could potentially be a catastrophe, but actually ends up really well.
Have fun and read on!
Nazareth on a Summer`s eve
By Howard Fielding
It was with some trepidation that we set off on the overland track to Salisbury last Sunday, to see Nazareth – it was a warm Summer evening, the kind you spend sitting outside a country pub listening to the gentle sound of nature.
It didn`t feel like the night to spend crammed together in a sweaty crowd of raucous rock fans stamping and shouting their appreciation of Nazareth`s brand of heavy music. Also I`d been getting a little bored, lately, of the kind of music which relies too much on bass drums and deafening volume – it`s all right for Wintery evenings, but not for the impending delicacy of Summer.
Though Nazareth didn`t seem to fit the bill, although it was a long time no see, it might make a change and so it did, and I can say sincerely, and with considerable relief, that the evening was pleasant, entertaining and enjoyable especially in giving the lie to my misconceptions.
Nazareth are a moderately weighty band, but I`d forgotten how much variety and interest they give to their set, and how they combine in their music many of the hallmarks of an excellent band. But before them came Mike Hugg`s new band Hug, an interesting prospect for anyone who enjoyed his silky husky voice in his days with Manfred Mann and subsequently in his fine solo work, but there`s been a considerable change of style, to far more direct and forceful music, led principally by the striking guitar work of John Knightsbridge. A band with many possibilities, this, and well worth seeing. Hopefully they`ll get their sound better mixed in future, so that the top and bottom end of the drum kit doesn`t drown the middle ranges of the other musicians – when Ron Telemak did play a drum solo you hardly noticed there was any change. But it`s nice to see the man back on the road again.
Nazareth started their set with title `Changin` Times` from the new album, a well-bought record in the Salisbury area, judging by the crowd`s response. Straight away, the reaction, one felt, was reassuring – the sound, for one thing, though pretty loud, was well balanced and you could hear and distinguish quite clearly what each person was playing. Initially, it was Manny Charlton, surprisingly enough, who took the eye – playing short solo breaks which people like to call tasteful. When that means anything, it implies that the solo part is complementary to the rest of the music – it`s one of my criteria of a good musician – and Charlton gets good marks for it. In fact, only twice in the whole set did he play anything which could mildly be described as irrelevant or indulgent – and those were very short and quite entertaining little flurries.
Then, during the second and third songs, there was time to notice the light show, one of the brightest sets for a rock band currently in use as I had forcibly explained to me – but it was good, and again, fitted round the music. The band work their visual groupings pretty well, often gathering in small clumps around Don McCafferty, and not satisfied with standing morosely still, or stomping about distractedly. It`s impressive to see a band who have rehearsed what it seems necessary to rehearse and to leave the rest to their own personalities.
Charlton`s guitar changes, Pete Agnew`s bass change, McCafferty`s changing of mikes and slipping on of white gloves for the ultra violet effects of `Jet Lag` all showed smooth polish but without losing their personal expression in the music the rest of the time. As the set moved on, and I was surprised how many songs the band got through, you could see how well put together their act is. There`s a well thought-out collection of songs, varying from the slow stuff, like Randy Newman`s `Guilty` which it takes a good band to do well – to the more familiar furious pace they play at most of the time. But lots of people like nothing better than having their ears bashed – and good luck to them – Nazareth can cater for their taste. What distinguishes this band from the mundane, though sometimes more famous, loud and nasty men is that you can sit and listen to Nazareth as well. There`ll always be a market for bodyline rock. What is important is that people should be able to distinguish good from bad and as long as Nazareth get picked out as a superior quality rock band you can be pleased that we still have some taste in this country.