At The Carling Academy 2, Newcastle, U.K., February 23, 2008

Back in 1968 there must have been something in the air to inspire longevity and creativity in the music industry as fast forward to 2008 and there seems to be a fair few bands out on the road celebrating 40 years in the business including Jethro Tull and Nazareth.

Now for most people after 40 years of graft it’s time to hang up the work gear and slip into a comfortable and hopefully long retirement, not so with Nazareth. Not content with just touring the world to celebrate their 40th anniversary they also have a brand new album, The Newz, out too, their first since 1998’s Boogaloo.

nazareth Haunting Scot’s pipes shimmered around the hall as show time approached but this soon gave way to the thumping, swaggering riff from “Beggar’s Day” before launching into “Keep on Travelling” from the upcoming new release, the first of four to be aired during the night from The Newz, a fact that McCafferty revelled in reminding the crowd at every opportunity.

In true self effacing style McCafferty introduced “Razzamanaz” as one he’d written 150 years ago when he was beautiful before Lee Agnew’s drums thundered in driving the song along at breakneck speed. Nazareth pioneered the thumping double bass drum run long before the purveyors of Thrash and Power Metal were even out of short trousers.

This incarnation of Nazareth has been around for 10 years featuring original members Dan McCafferty and Pete Agnew along with long-time lead guitarist Jimmy Murrison and Agnew’s son Lee, on drums who took over the drum stool of original drummer Darrell Sweet after his untimely death in 1999.

nazareth The rhythm section featuring the Agnew’s is very tight and almost telepathic in a way only a father and son combination can be. Pete Agnew spends most of his time beaming with delight throughout the whole set and is clearly relishing playing up on stage with his son.

Lead guitarist Jimmy Murrison has the unenviable task of slipping into original guitarist Manny Charlton’s shoes and it has to be said, does a fantastic job cranking out some great riffs and some blistering solos to the extent that the absence of Charlton goes largely unnoticed.

Mainman, Dan McCafferty was in fine form. With a voice that could strip paint from 100 yards, his trade mark gruff, gravel hewn vocal makes the likes of Brian Johnson and Joe Cocker sound like a pair of choirboys and this along with his easy going stage presence and jocular banter with the crowd makes for one great front man.

Further new numbers peppered the set including the laid back, mid-paced Rocker “Day at the Beach” and the driving Zeppelin groove of “The Gathering”, the later being a particularly impressive and bodes well for the new album.

As expected however, it’s the classic material that receives the biggest cheers of the night with the likes of “My White Bicycle” complete with McCafferty’s Scottish jig during the mid-section and “Big Boy” with it’s “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” style vibe and Reggae mid-section going down well.

“Bad Bad Boy” is a no nonsense kick ass Rock ‘n’ Roll number the type that Nazareth really excel at, while “Whiskey Drinking Woman” opens with a flurry of notes from Murrison before heading off into low-down and dirty Blues territory.

nazareth In “Love Hurts” Nazareth have an uber ballad to match anyone and McCafferty’s impassioned delivery still raises the goose bumps. Believe it or not this is the very song that Axl Rose begged McCafferty to perform at his wedding to the now ex-Mrs Rose.

Staying with the Guns N’ Roses theme the penultimate song of the set “Hair of the Dog” was covered by Axl and Co on their covers album The Spaghetti Incident. With a cracking riff and clanking cowbell it’s easy to see why this song has become such a classic. What is surprising is that just a couple of weeks ago this very number was sitting at the top of the UK singles charts courtesy of the girl band Girls Aloud who’d swiped the riff and remixed it for their own use in “No No No”. Let’s hope that Dan and the boy’s get a good royalty from that and who knows the girls might even make a guest appearance in the next Nazareth video!!!

Closing the show with Tim Roses’ “Morning Dew” and their very first single “Broken Down Angel” was a fitting end to a 40th Anniversary show that celebrated the past yet hailed the future.

It’s easy to see why Nazareth are still drawing crowds 40 years after their birth and why they have influenced many acts from the aforementioned Guns ‘n’ Roses to Hanoi Rocks and Rose Tattoo with their unique blend of blue collar Rock ‘n’ Roll mixed with a healthy dose of the Blues. On this form you can be sure there’s plenty more to come from Scotland’s finest over the coming years.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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