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NAZARETH/Deborah Bonham
The Assembly, Leamington Spa 12 February 2010

Nazareth a band that has been at the top of their game for over 40 years, visited The Assembly in Leamington Spa on Friday 12th February.

Deborah Bonham, photo by Andrew Lock

Support came from fantastic Deborah Bonham, sister of the late great Led Zeppelin drummer John, and a true power house of a rock/blues vocalist. Her set mainly consisted of material from the 2004 album, The Old Hyde (named after the farm John Bonham bought in the 1970's and where Deborah lived) and Duchess from 2008 (named after Deborah's dog).

Opening number Shit Happens set the tone for the set with the band tight and rocking and Deborah commanding centre stage with that fabulous voice of hers, full of character and soul as well as powerful with - to my ears - a touch of Janis Joplin in the sound.

Other standout tracks from the The Old Hyde album included the title track complete with a few words about the place itself and her father and brother, and a full of soul version of the Lorraine Ellison classic Stay With Me Baby.

Grace from the Duchess album and I Need Love, a new track from a forthcoming album kept the momentum going - and she delivered a cracking set.

She seems to have one of the best bands in the business including electrifying guitar work from Peter Bullick and the keyboard skills of Gerard Louis.

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Headliners Nazareth promised "a good rocking night out" in a recent rock magazine interview and did they ever live up to that promise.

Speaking with original members, vocalist Dan and Pete on bass before the show (2 of the friendliest musicians I have ever met by the way - must also mention stage manager Tam Sinclair a real gentleman) we discussed amongst other things the difficulty in picking a set from such a huge back catalogue, but they delivered a set with a perfect mix of old classics and more recent material.

Nazareth, photo by Andrew Lock

Very atmospheric bagpipe intro tape with tons of dry ice drifting around a spectacularly lit drum kit before the boys bounced on stage and started to really rock the venue.

The classics kept on coming including the out and out rockers Bad Bad Boy and Hair of the Dog the awesome My White Bicycle, their first hit single Broken Down Angel, and of course their huge hit version of power ballad Love Hurts.

Nazareth, photo by Andrew Lock

From the last studio album in 2008 The Newz, they played a great version of the heavy riffing The Gathering and from the 1980 release Malice in Wonderland a real stand out number the slow but powerful Heart's Grown Cold a song introduced as about addiction and which really showcased the bands vocal harmonies.

For encores two of the all time Nazareth greats and both rockers from 1973, a real vintage year for the band, Razamanaz and This Flight Tonight.

Nazareth, photo by Andrew Lock

A fantastic gig Dan McCafferty (loved the bagpipe solo) and Pete Agnew (complete with white mice on his bass strap) on top form and so obviously having a ball, Pete's son Lee playing rock solid drums and last but not least on superb lead guitar Jimmy Murrison.

A good sized crowd, and with the help of Dan's showmanship quite a vocal one, had a great night - roll on a return to the venue.

Review and photos by Andrew Lock


Gig review and interview (London)

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