NAZARETH IN ISRAEL
May 4-6, 2006
PHOTOS - Part One
Read Dan McCafferty's pre-visit interview
Life-affirming optimism, that's the gist of NAZARETH. And that's why the fact that this time the band didn't go to Nazareth means only that they'll be back to the land the musicians like so much.
During their second visit to Israel NAZARETH decided to have some good rest and relax, and up to Jerusalem went only McCaffertys - father and son. Yes, ttime there were not only two Agnews, bassist Pete and drummer Lee, in the team but two McCaffertys as well: singer Dan and guitar tech Colin. Colin hasn't become a real musician still, even though he plays. He was too young, the Junior says, to learn the licks from Manny Charlon, the group's original guitarist, unlike Lee who was tutored by his late predecessor, Darrel Sweet, and now, humbly sitting behind the kit most of the time, works miracles. For instance, in "Night Woman", a song which, as Dan remarked, while standing in the wings during the thunderous intro, "you should limbo to". Well, of course, its title notwithstanding, the piece is sunny and driving. Played not too often, it's performed rather easygoing, therefore it perfectly conveyed the guys' mood during the three days in the Holy Land.
The Scottish four obviously were getting their kicks from the sea, heat and the warmth of the audience's reception, especially in Haifa where the punters' enthusiasm more than compensated their fewness. In fact, the energy exchange between the stage and the hall felt equal - thanks to NAZARETH's efforts. Before the first show, in Holon, they thoroughly ran through the songs list having crossed out the late, and thus less known to the most, numbers and focused on the classics. Among those were "Telegram" which wasn't presented to the Israeli fans two years before, when the band came on for the first time ever, and less intense but just as humorous "Holiday". Quite another indicator of the mood - sealed for posterity with "We Are Animals". The only thing Pete Agnew complained about, while sipping beer before coming on stage, was that he and his colleagues haven't played for two months. "It's like a lifetime to us", said the veteran. What about muscle memory, then? "Memory? What memory?" was the answer beamed with cunning squint. The conversation brought up the subject of another great ensemble, their history a little longer than NAZARETH's. "Who cares about THE ROLLING STONES!", quipped the bassist, "I can play "Brown Sugar", but they can't play "Razamanaz"!" Bloody right!
No doubt, the current line-up are able to play whatever you like; more so, judging by Jimmy Murrison's solos, in time for the next album the group can take, stylistically, on a new level. Will it be NAZARETH still? Again, no doubt about it! During the three and a half decades since the band released their debut album, the band have proved their ability to change without changing their very core. Well, there's no talk of a new record at the moment, though this visit to Israel provided the artists with a chance to compose something like "Smoke On The Water": on the third day of their stay, a fire hit in the hotel they stayed in. Right before leaving for Haifa, the Scots found themselves separated from their stage gear by the police and the fire brigade, so the show was in danger, yet there was a happy end to it - for everybody. Everybody means, among others, "Korni", a band from Russia who toured in Israel at the same time as NAZARETH. The Russians didn't look so happy unrecognized by those around them, but then they finally grasped who a couple of middle-aged men beside them were and hurried up to have their pictures taken with McCafferty and Agnew.
NAZARETH, unlike many so called stars, are always up for a good chat, as the popular Tel Aviv pub's visitors could witness. They're as easy when on-stage... The thing is, though, there's no dividing line between the work and off-stage life for them who do what they like - and this, as Dan notes, pays their mortgage. The Scots live in harmony it seems, not only in vocal hamony which should be praised, but in life-affirming harmony as well. Quite a reason to be loud 'n' proud!
PHOTOS - Part Two
© Eugene Veinard exclusively for DME