Legends Of Rock: Final bow from a great frontman

Nazareth - playing at Legends of Rock gig at East End Park, Dunfermline
Nazareth - playing at Legends of Rock gig at East End Park, Dunfermline

East End Park hosted its first ever ‘Legends Of Rock’ gig with Nazareth and Big Country taking centre stage.

Nazareth/Big Country: Legends Of Rock - East End Park, Dunfermline

There’s a moment in every gig which defines the night - a snapshot you retain long after the stage lights have dimmed.

For me, it was Dan McCafferty standing centre stage with his arm round Pete Agnew, belting out ‘Broken Down Angel’ quite probably for the very, very last time.

A final bow in his home town, and one with McCafferty’s usual workmanlike approach - a stroll on stage, minimal movement, a few words, but still the sheer, utter enjoyment of being with the band he fronted for 40-plus years before ill health finally forced him off the road in 2013.

In that one song - in many ways the perfect radio friendly rock number which still has a spring in its step all those decades later - you saw the ties that bind two men who have been together from the dance halls of west Fife to Top of The Pops and round the globe numerous times across the decades.

Big Country - playing at Legends of Rock gig at East End Park, Dunfermline

Big Country - playing at Legends of Rock gig at East End Park, Dunfermline

It was a lovely moment, but, for me, it was also farewell to a band I first saw live in ‘79.

Nazareth minus McCafferty’s distinctive vocals, raw enough to have been howked from the Fife coalfields, is a different band with a different sound. The songs, and the name, remain the same, but it couldn’t be the same.

Saturday’s set was heavier than I recall from previous gigs, and one that really needed an early blast of ‘Razzamanazz’ or ‘This Flight Tonight’ to light up the set and the night...

‘Legends Of Rock’ was tailor made for the greatest hits with a couple of upbeat others from across the albums - a celebration of a band that has endured across the decades and continues to deliver new material - so the extended slow-burner of a start was a surprise, specially given the rousing tempo Big Country had set just half an hour earlier..

New frontman Carl Sentance gives the band a more typical ‘metal’ sound and approach, and while ‘Expect No Mercy’ was a thundering way to end the gig, and ‘Love Hurts’ brought the folk in the stands to their feet, it took the arrival of McCafferty on stage to add that special, and, for me, missing, ingredient.

Big Country absolutely hit the spot with a tight, bouncing, greatest hits set that lit up the venue. Rarely can so many folk have danced with such joy in the main stand at East End Park!

Their sound was spot on too - something Nazareth seemed to struggle with as the chilly night descended - and the upshot was a cracking set.

New singer Simon Hough fitted in perfectly as the band rolled out their greatest hits, and every one of ‘em sounds just as stirring and rousing today.

And dressed in their Pars tops, they clearly enjoyed the day back in their home town ... as did the many punters who turned up wearing their football tops, and, to a man, couldn’t resist re-enacting a favourite goal before sinking to their knees on the hallowed turf.

A good gig, hopefully a great fund-raiser, and as a live avenue, the general feedback was East End Park has the potential to add its name to the summer rota of outdoor shows.