Nazareth and Big Country play the ‘Legends of Rock’ event at East End Park on Saturday, May 30 - the first time the Dunfermline bands have ever shared a stage...
Nazareth were the first band I ever saw play live.
The venue was the slightly un rock ‘n’ roll Usher Hall of Edinburgh, and it was 1979.
At my school you were either a punk or a rocker. I opted for the long hair, denim and earnest discussions of Deep Purple ‘In Rock’ and listening to Iron Maiden at levels loud enough to make my ears bleed and annoy the neighbours. Five decades on I still do …
Back then, Nazareth were ‘Top of The Pops’ regulars along with the holy trinity of Mud, Sweet and Slade.
They were hairy, probably un-cool, and yet cranked out some incredibly radio friendly rock numbers as well as displaying a canny knack of cherry picking cover versions to land them firmly in the then hallowed top ten.
Playing the dance halls of west Fife as The Shadettes they were used to playing other band’s songs - that was the rule back then - but it took them into America and across Europe, and laid the foundations for their own remarkable longevity.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen them play live over the years - from the Ayr Pavilion to the Alhambra, via Rothes Halls and the Liquid Rooms.
Their 40th anniversary gig in Edinburgh was a belter, their 42nd year show at the Alhambra sold out and was something rather special.
This weekend brings them to East End Park for the very first time.
It may be just one gig in a crazy schedule - Moscow, Finland, Switzerland, Austria and Germany call in the next eight months, and possible America too. Oh yes, and they’re on the road the length and breadth of the UK.
Nazareth are still recording too - this is far from a band stuck in the 70s just churning out the hits.
More importantly, they’re still having fun.
The ‘Legends’ gig is an important one too, in that it marks the debut of new singer Carl Sentance who has the huge task of taking over from Dan McCafferty whose unmistakable vocals have powered the band since its very first single and album.
Ill health forced him off the road in 2013, just 12 months after that cracking Alhambra gig where he sounded better than ever.
Health depending, it’d be wonderful to see him take a bow or even make a cameo appearance at the ‘Legends Of Rock’ gig; a fitting platform for one final bow, but the Nazareth story is one of endurance regardless of change.
The band has been a four piece and five piece, it’s added and discarded keyboards, and had twin guitarists with the addition of Zal Cleminson from the Sensational Alex Harvey Band at the end of the 70s.
It’s over 20 years since Manny Charlton, founding member, guitarist and album producer, quit the line-up.
We’re also edging towards the 20th anniversary of the death of original drummer Darrell Sweet - it was 1999 when he took ill on tour and passed away.
McCafferty’s retirement through ill health in 2013 might well have been the end of the road, but his view remained simple - no-one is bigger than the band, not even the guy whose voice gave them a distinctive sound.
Carl Sentance is a veteran of the rock scene - if you know your heavy music then you may recognise his name from the NWBHM era when he fronted Persian Risk. He’s worked with bands such as Krokus, the Geezer Butler Band, and names such as Don Airey from Rainbow.
As a lifelong fan it’ll be weird seeing, and hearing, the band minus McCafferty’s turbo-powered vocals, but 36 years since I sat in the front row of the balcony of the Usher Hall, there’s still a wee thrill to be had seeing the band enjoying playing live.
And it’s a homecoming gig too ...
>> Legends of Rock, Saturday, May 30, East End Park, Dunfermline;
Gates 4.00 p.m. Show starts 5.,00 p.m.
Tickets are available online on Ticketmaster - Ticketmaster
>> A very few hospitality places remain available KingdomFM