Always nice to read a live review of Nazareth in their prime. What a band they were! Luckily I have seen them live with the original members and they were quite powerful indeed. One of the best.
By Angie Errigo
When the seat next to me collapsed and the tampon sailed over my head and into my lap I was tempted to leave. I reckon managing to hang on to my notebook through the encore deserves a medal for services beyond the call of boogie.
Some concert! Some audience! Some fun?
The assembled patrons looked primarily like the little brothers of the Groundhogs audiences from whom one used to flee, and Rory Gallagher crowds before whom one quakes. Their attitude of getting down and getting with it was brought home to me by two customers behind me. They were about 15 and all through the first set from Widowmaker they howled and stomped, kicked the backs of seats in time and gave whoops of ecstacy.
Suddenly one of them turned to the other and said “They`re not too bad, are they?”
“Ahhh, it`s a bunch of crap” the other replied and resumed whooping.
Widowmaker are nothing of they aren`t killingly loud. Steve Ellis has got something, but it`s hard to say what it is, at that volume. Ariel Bender, pinched into the most awfully unbecoming trousers and wearing a Cute Hat, leapt over, under, around and particularly in front of the other members of the band quite a bit. His posing is rather tentative, like he`s pretty convinced he`s a Star but he doesn`t want to get beat up in the dressing room for strutting too much in one go.
The drummer does a lot of groovy grimacing, like a cross between the village idiot and the sulphate strangler, but he`s okay. The second guitarist looks like he escaped from Sweet, but he did quite nicely while Ariel was traipsing around, and the bassist is dandy.
I don`t really like their belligerence but Ellis is a worthy belter and they`ll probably do quite well if they can stomach each other long enough to establish themselves.
I had no idea Nazareth are so popular, or so head splitting. Dan McCafferty has the most alarming set of pipes this side of Ethel Merman, and the marvel is that he can scream so loud and still produce shades and contrasts in his vocals and put over lyrics so well.
The first three numbers – “Telegram”, “Razamanaz” and “Bad Bad Boy” – were beyond criticism. How can you be analytical about being run over by some crazy, out of control, sonic boogie machine? Guitarist Manny Charlton (in competition with Bender for Funny Trousers of the Night in rather extraordinary black leather britches) is big on the breakneck chops, and bassist Pete Agnew and drummer Darrell Sweet come on like their barbarian ancestors who freaked out the Romans by screaming and bagpiping like loonies.
Naz`s version of “Love Hurts”, which was Jim Capaldi`s recent success here, is completely different and surprisingly nice, combining as they do the pretty melody and subtle rhythms with that grotesque volume.
The rest of the performance was more varied. “Loretta” from the new “Close Enough for Rock and Roll” lp and “Changing Time” from “Hair of the Dog” reeked with classically stylized heavy metal riffs. “Honky Tonk Downstairs”, a number from McCafferty`s solo lp, featured a punchy, countryish delivery from Dan, and the folk song “The Long Black Veil” was sung quite prettily and mercifully acapella by McCafferty, Agnew and Sweet.
Most of this was interspersed with the predictably derivative guitar solos, beefy bass breaks and rapid shrieks that put hair on the boys` chests. For “Whiskey Drinking Woman”, “This Flight Tonight” and “Woke Up This Morning” everybody was either on their seat or down front getting their money`s worth.
I`m sure if I`d tanked up a bit beforehand I would have felt more rollicking myself, but older and more sober than most of the audience I found the variety of objects flying through the air, the breaking seats and the mindless, relentless licks curiously unmoving.
After lots of hollering and clapping they came back for “Broken Down Angel” which featured a rather good sing-along from the audience on chorus. I must say I`d prefer an audience like this myself if I was up there. When they want you they really want you, and they sure aren`t embarrassed to act crazy.
Travel was easy and cheap in the seventies.
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!
This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Buffy Sainte-Marie, Graham Parker, Louis Jordan, Jimi Hendrix, Horace Silver, Jimmy Castor, Bill Bruford, Rick Wakeman.
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