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Non-Prog Concert Reviews

Nazareth

Live in Chicago July 27, 2001

Review by Steve Alspach

Nazareth hit the south Chicago suburbs on a beautiful summer's evening and proved that, even after thirty years, they still haven't missed a step. Their sixteen-song set was nothing but straight-ahead, everybody- have-fun rock-and-roll. Although the concert was not well publicized (and yours truly went on a wild search to even find the venue), there are still lots of Nazareth fans that filled the place and made it an enjoyable evening.

The band started off with "When the NightComes Down" and played songs all throughout their career. Their most popular album, Hair of the Dog, was well represented with three songs: "Please Don't Judas Me," which appeared early in the set, the title track (with the obligatory audience call-and-response of that famous line "Now you're messin' with a / A son of a bitch!") and the closing song for the evening, "Love Hurts." The song got a soulful treatment, and singer Dan McCafferty sang the song an octave lower than their original version, adding the perfect touch to that ballad. During "Hair of the Dog," he brought out some bagpipes to do a vocorder-type effect during the bridge of the song. McCafferty (dressed in a "businessman on a bender" outfit of white untucked Oxford shirt and jeans) was a wonderful lead presence, joking with the audience between songs and even breaking into a jig during another their take on Tomorrow's, "My White Bicycle." They even did a cover of Joni Mitchell's "This Flight Tonight" (off her Blue album), but much of the evening was dedicated to bluesy rock-and-roll, Nazareth's stock in trade.

Steve Alspach
 
Steve Alspach
   
McCafferty was joined that evening by longtime bassist Pete Agnew, whose smile never left his face, Lee Agnew on drums, Ronnie Leahy on keyboards, and Jimmy Murrison on guitar. This band was tight throughout the evening. Leahy provided an excellent introduction to "Heart's Grown Cold." Murrison's leads were crisp and never overblown, and Lee Agnew was rock solid on the drum kit. Nazareth, in fact, probably has the best father-son rhythm section in rock with Pete and Lee Agnew.


Steve Alspach
 
Steve Alspach
   
If you like your rock and roll spiced up with a heavy mix of blues, make sure to check out Nazareth if they come to your town. Thirty three years on and this band is still one son of a bitch.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2001 Year Book Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Steve Alspach
     
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