Jacob Zinn :: journalist + photographer

Nazareth’s Coquitlam Shakedown

The RunnerOnline Edition: July 18, 2011 | Print Edition: Volume 3, Issue 23

When a band tours with only half of its original members, it’s hard to set realistic expectations. But on Thursday, July 14, Nazareth put on a performance as solid as their seven gold records.

The Red Robinson Show Theatre in Coquitlam seated almost a thousand 50-somethings—Naz fans since high school—and a few youngsters in their 20s and 30s to see the Scottish hard rockers. Their name in its iconic typeface loomed over the instruments in the background, setting a tone of awe. When the bagpipes sounded and the lights went out at eight o’clock, the floor filled up before the band even took the stage.

The current line-up consists of original lead singer Dan McCafferty and bassist Pete Agnew. Replacing the late Darrell Sweet on drums is Lee Agnew, Pete’s son, and Jimmy Murrison has been Nazareth’s guitarist since 1994. The absence of a keyboardist might have detracted from the show, but its till rivalled the energy of their 1981 Vancouver-recorded double-live album, ‘Snaz.

Touring on their 2011 release Big Dogz, they started with a few new tracks including “Big Dog’s Gonna Howl.” McCafferty missed a few high notes, but his voice is still intact, considering it’s been raspy since 1968. Then they dialled it back to 1984’s “This Month’s Messiah,” which one long-haired fan found headbang-worthy.

Then they brought out the big guns: ballads. Murrison strummed an acoustic guitar for “Sunshine,” and though McCafferty can’t croon like he used to, the song moved every husband in attendance to put an arm around his wife.

Between songs, McCafferty told jokes, and when he noticed the romance in the theatre following slow songs, he took a few jabs at Canadian stereotypes. “All this lumberjack shit is not working for me,” he said with a grin as they moved into “Turn on Your Receiver.”

The band alternated between new songs and oldies midway through the set. The crowd sat idly through new songs “See Me” and “Radio,” but they sang along note-for-note with “Broken Down Angel,” “Love Leads to Madness” and “Whiskey Drinkin’ Woman.” Just before the encore, Lee Agnew broke his kick pedal during “Changin’ Times,” which briefly delayed the rest of the set, but he made up for it by kick-drumming the teeth out of everyone at the start of “Razamanaz.”

Agnew and Son laid the drum-and-bass rock n’ roll foundation for “Hair of the Dog,” which got the best crowd response of the night by far. Nazareth managed to squeeze one more ballad, the widely covered “Love Hurts,” and fans at the front raised and swayed their lighters—no cell phones here.

Nazareth closed their set with their rock interpretation of the Joni Mitchell folk tune, “This Flight Tonight.” They skipped a few singles like “Bad Bad Boy,” “Woke Up This Morning,” “Shanghai’d in Shanghai” and “My White Bicycle,” but the concert wasn’t a disappointment. The audience had a good time, and aside from some unforeseen technical difficulties, Nazareth played every song loud ‘n’ proud.

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