Nazareth and The Deborah Bonham Band (4 stars)

Nazareth, Deborah Bonham Band

ABC, Glasgow, Fri 19 Feb 2010

More than forty years have passed since Nazareth left the comfort zone of the Dunfermline dance hall circuit to dive bravely into the snakepit of the London music scene but, despite the fact that the two remaining founder members of the band, vocalist Dan McCafferty and bass player Pete Agnew have now attained sexagenarian status, the brand name continues to flourish, with the Fife rockers playing a lively 90-minute set to an appreciative Glasgow audience on the Scottish leg of their 2010 Still Loud ’n’ Proud World Tour.

The veteran duo, both now 63, are complemented nowadays by Jimmy Murrison (45) on guitar and 39 year old Lee Agnew (Pete’s son) on drums, creating what has to be described as a intriguing, high energy mix of youth and experience.

Opening the show for Nazareth was a lady from one of the most famous families in rock, Deborah Bonham – sister of the late Led Zeppelin drummer John ‘Bonzo’ Bonham and aunt of Jason Bonham (son of Bonzo), himself a highly respected sticksman.

Ms Bonham, backed by an impressive four-piece band, sings in an endearing blues/rock fusion style and her on-stage mannerisms, together with her wide vocal range, evoke inevitable comparisons with her predecessors in that genre such as Janis Joplin and Maggie Bell.

The family theme continued when Nazareth took the stage, with the father/son rhythm section of Pete and Lee Agnew providing a solid base for the guitar virtuosity of Aberdeen-born Murrison (the only non-Fifer in the group) and the trademark gravelly vocals of the craggy-faced McCafferty who interspersed the songs with his own brand of self-deprecating humour, delivered in an unwavering Fife accent.

Sipping from a bottle of water, McCafferty stared at the label in mock bewilderment before asking the crowd – "Volvic? – isn’t this what they use to clean lavatories?" before introducing 'Bad Bad Boy' with "I sang this one on Top of the Pops once – my mammy thought I looked braw."

The set featured most of the Nazareth classics such as 'My White Bicycle', 'Shanghai’d in Shanghai' and 'Love Hurts', along with some token offerings from their most recent album Newz and ended with their anthemic debut hit 'Broken Down Angel'.

A three-song encore followed, culminating with the upbeat cover of Joni Mitchell’s 'This Flight Tonight' and, although McCafferty is edging unrelentingly towards the bus pass and the pension book, his parting shot of "see you next time" suggests that neither he, nor Nazareth are ready for retirement just yet.


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