On the road with new-born Nazareth
By Martin Hutchinson
Veteran Scot-rockers Nazareth are undertaking a short UK tour in January, their first British dates with the bands’ new lead singer Linton Osbourne.
After the retirement of co-founder member and singer Dan McCafferty, due to ill health, the band decided to continue and recruited Linton, who has been settling in.
“He’s fitting in great,” said bassist and sole-remaining founder member Pete Agnew. “We recently played in Europe and many people weren’t aware we have a new singer, but by the end of the dates, Linton had quite a following of his own.
“We did some ‘meet and greets’, mainly so that fans could get to know him and he proved to be a big favourite.”
McCafferty, who had been with the band since the beginning and is the singer on all the recordings made by the band: such as Razamanaz, Expect No Mercy and the single hits Love Hurts, My White Bicycle and This Flight Tonight, has such a distinctive voice that to fill his shoes must have been a daunting prospect.
“Linton and Dan are two completely different singers,” said the Dumfermline-born bassist. “We weren’t looking for a Dan sound-a-like, but sometimes he is very like him, and there was a couple of times when we were rehearsing we actually thought it was Dan singing; it was hard to tell the difference sometimes.
“The main thing is that Linton has the range, which is a big thing in all the Nazareth songs. He has a rock and roll voice.”
After dates across Europe, Canada and Russia, the band, which also features Pete’s son Lee Agnew on drums, and guitarist Jimmy Murrison, recently recorded a show at the Metropolis Studios in London for a DVD release.
“We are sifting through the footage at the moment. We played 21 songs on the night and we are looking at the ones that sound the best ‘cos they only want 52 minutes of music on the DVD and then some interviews.
“Also, we want to try and avoid some of the songs that appear on all the DVDs. But we hope it’ll be out in about March.”
The band’s latest album, released last year, is entitled ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Telephone’ and has been well-received, but it won’t be a dominant feature of the forthcoming shows.
“There’ll be a couple from ‘Telephone’.” Pete said. “But every time we go out to play, we have so many ‘greatest hits’ that we have to play, and there’s so many songs being requested.”
“There’s so many things to put in, yet recently we went back to do a couple of songs we haven’t played for a while. Dear John – our first single; we haven’t played that for 40 years. Some of the fans weren’t even born the last time we played that.”
Although in his sixties, Pete still enjoys playing and recording.
“Sometimes the touring gets tiring; a two- or three-week tour is good, but I don’t like doing the three-month tours anymore.
“But I still like going out gigging. It’s great fun to do a couple of shows every weekend; it’s a great way to see the world.”
British tours have been a bit thin on the ground of late, but that doesn’t mean they don’t like touring here.
“We always look forward to British dates ‘cos it’s home.” Pete added. “We were supposed to be doing some dates last year, but with all the problems with Dan, and me being ill, we had to postpone it.
“Also in Britain, people can understand what we’re saying – usually,” he said, with a grin.
Recently, the band had to cancel some European dates because Linton Osbourne went down with a throat virus.
“He’s getting better every day. He’ll be OK for the British dates.”
Nazareth will perform a handful of UK dates from January 23 until February 1, including the Great British Rock & Blues Festival at Butlins in Skegness on January 24.