TAKE THIS FLIGHT TONIGHT…
Gig Review of:
at ‘City Hall’, Hull
(17 September 1981)
Humberside might be in recession, but for Nazareth it’s business as usual. The ‘City Hall’ is a large echoing labyrinth of Victorian excess better suited to Symphony Orchestras, and more than several bands have retired defeated by its eccentric acoustic properties. But the Naz ride smooth and effortless through a set distinguished by pristine competence, if topographically undistinguishable from any other set they’ve done over the last ten years. Their galvanisation of Joni Mitchell’s “This Flight Tonight” made perfect radio programming sense in 1973 – a no.11 hit, now they do it note for note with big-haired Dan McCafferty’s voice slewing alarmingly from a leap to a hoarse crawl over a vocal range that would stagger seismic print-outs, yet running through the entire gamut of emotions from A to B!
Next they’re doing Tim Rose’s “Morning Dew”, thumb-printed by all the Naz stylistic flourishes, Pete Agnew’s gut-thumping bass riff churning and vibrating on hot rails to hell, yet that energy paced, the climaxes spaced, the sound well balanced. Originally featured on their debut LP ‘Nazareth’ (November 1971), it could’ve been a hit in 1974, or 1976, or 1978, but no – it’s reconfigured into their new 1981 single! Deep Purple archivists in the audience tonight might recall that Roger Glover recorded the song as part of Episode Six in 1966. That same Roger Glover who took producer credits for Nazareth’s breakthrough ‘Razamanaz’ (May 1973) album – boasting hit singles “Broken Down Angel” and “Bad Bad Boy” (no.9 in August) – ‘we’re gonna razamanaz you tonight, we’re gonna razamanaz you ALL night!’, as well as its equally successful ‘Loud ‘n’ Proud’ (November 1973) sequel. ‘Damn right!’
Afterwards, the promoters can be heard bemoaning the mere six-hundred punters who traipsed here to be assailed by this near two-hour album-full-of-hits spectacle. But if Nazareth fall between several stools, there’s plenty of empty ones here to fall between! Restraint, like intelligence and ability, don’t exactly bring kudos in what passes for the current Music Scene. But, inoculated into sheer competence by marathon American tours, I doubt if the Naz even notice…