Nazareth and Deborah Bonham Newcastle Academy 20 Feb 2010
My first Nazareth encounter was at the Lincoln Great Western Festival in 1972. They came on early on the Saturday morning to a crowd just waking up. At that time they had just released their second album Exercises. I can’t remember a lot about their set that day, except that they seemed good and played a great version of Morning Dew. I saw them around a dozen times in the 70s, witnessing some great shows at Sunderland Locarno, Newcastle Mayfair and City Hall (supporting Deep Purple on one occasion and headlining a few times) and at the Buxton festival in 1973. My last Naz gig of that era was 1981 at the City Hall. I lost track of them for around 20 years, and saw them again a few years ago at Newcastle Arena. That recent gig revived my interest in the band; they still rocked the way they did all those years ago.
So tonight I’m back with my mates Will and Norm to see Naz again; some 38 (ouch!) years since standing in that field somewhere in Lincolnshire. Tonight’s venue is the Newcastle Academy, and the support act is the Deborah Bonham Band (sister of John). When we arrive Deborah and her band are already on stage. They have some pretty good rock songs, and her vocals are excellent; reminds me of Maggie Bell. We get a great suprise for the last couple of songs when she is joined on stage by her nephew Jason Bonham who takes the drum stool; they treat us to a top version of Rock n Roll as their last song.
After a short wait Nazareth take the stage. The current version of the band features two original members: Dan McCafferty on vocals and Peter Agnew on bass. The drum stool is occupied by Peter’s son Lee Agnew who replaced original drummer Darrel Sweet (Darrel sadly passed away a few years ago); and the guitar slot is more than ably filled by Jimmy Murrison (a relative new comer; he’s been with the band since 1994). Nazareth are one band who seem to have improved with age and seem to be better these days than they ever used to. The sound is clear and loud, and Dan McCafferty’s vocals are as strong as they were in the 70s; which is pretty amazing given the way in which he screams the words out in such an effortless manner. Pete Agnew prowls around the right hand side of the stage, with the same familiar grin on his face, and Jimmy’s guitar playing is excellent. The set is a mixture of old and new (they latest album came out in 2008 and is called Newz), and features favourites such as Bad Bad Boy, My White Bicycle, Shanghai’d In Shanghai, Hair Of The Dog, and Love Hurts. They finish with Broken Down Angel which gets everyone singing along. For a few minutes I thought that we weren’t going to get an encore as its after the Academy’s normal Saturday 10pm curfew, but they are soon back on stage. We get a three song encore including the great Razamanaz and This Flight Tonight. We all agree that they can still cut the mustard; great stuff. Out in the cold night; and time for the chip shop.
Setlist: Telegram, Turn On Your Receiver, Miss Misery, Bad Bad Boy, The Gathering, My White Bicycle, Hearts Grown Cold, Shanghai’d In Shanghai, Hair Of The Dog, Holiday, Love Hurts,nBroken Down Angel
encores: See Me, Razamanaz, This Flight Tonight