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Nazareth are too young to say farewell

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To paraphrase Mark Twain, “Rumours of Nazareth’s death have been greatly exaggerated.”

 No, the Scottish classic rockers, famous for a variety of ’70s and ’80s hits including “This Flight Tonight,”  “Love Hurts,” “Hair of the Dog,” “Holiday” and a lot more, aren’t going anywhere.

Their current tour, which brings them back to Lethbridge for their annual show at Average Joes, July 23 is definitely not a farewell tour.

Nazareth’s Jimmy Murrison and Pete Agnew. Photo by Richard Amery
“You know how these things go. A couple of people get hold of these things and rumours grow,” noted bassist Pete Agnew from a hotel room in Edmonton, not only fighting with a malfunctioning cell phone, but the band’s tour bus breaking down in northern Alberta.

 “ If we were to do do a farewell tour, we would let you know. But we have no intention of  doing a farewell tour. We don’t look like a farewell band. I don’t think we’d say it, we’d just stop playing,” he continued observing too many bands say they are doing farewell tours and then just play again the next year.

“ We‘ve got no intention of doing a farewell tour,” said Agnew, who at 66-years -old, shows no signs of slowing down, let alone saying farewell.

“ We’ve sold a lot of records, but we’ve always been a touring band,” he said.
 They are in the middle of  a Canadian tour, then will go back to Russia for a tour, then Brazil, then back to Russia.

“We tour a lot, probably more than most bands do. We’ll keep playing this year until Santa comes,” he said.

 Sets change somewhat each tour. They know what songs work in different countries, so they make sure they add them to the set. More obscure numbers like “We Are The People” are big in Russia, while “Sunshine” is huge in Canada.

“We’ll be playing the Canadian set— the 15 song set we are ready to play,” he said adding because they are playing a lot of Casino and conference centres, their set is a more compact, hit heavy effort.

“There are four or five songs  like “This Flight Tonight,” and ‘Love Hurts’ that we have to play otherwise people would want their money back. But we have 22 albums out. We could play for three days,” he said.

A couple of their biggest hits including “Love Hurts” and “This Flight Tonight,” have been reworked covers.
“I don‘t see the point of doing a cover just like the original. Make it your own, otherwise, what’s the point,” he asked.

““Love Hurts was recorded 42 times before we got hold of it by people like the Everly Brothers and Roy Orbison, and  ‘This Flight Tonight,” was recorded by Joni Mitchell. Most Canadians don’t know it was written by a Canadian girl from Saskatoon,” he said.
“We’ve done really well with covers, but we’ve also done really well with our own songs,” he said.

 One they don’t play as much anymore is “Holiday,” from their 1980 album “Malice In Wonderland.”
“We had a big hit with that one, unfortunately we’re not playing it on this tour,” he said.

“We get bored playing some songs and don’t want the audience to get bored. And Lee (Agnew, Nazareth drummer), my son’s voice has been buggered for the past three months. We all sing harmonies and we need him for it,” he said.

“It’s about living in L.A — all of these young rich kids with too much money who get bored by that lifestyle. We were working with Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter (of the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan) and he said he couldn’t have described it any better himself in his own words,” Agnew reminisced.

As expected when you are a classic rock band who is always on the radio, a lot of people cover Nazareth songs.

“A Canadian band called Helix covered our song ‘Dream On’ and got a number one hit with it,” he said adding they hear a lot of interesting covers of Nazareth songs. The strangest one was in Japan.

“We were in Tokyo where they have Geisha girls and we were in an elevator and we heard a song. We said ‘Hey, that‘s Bad,Bad Boy.’  We’d love to find a record of that one,” he said.
“Another really great one was in Germany — a song called ‘Place In Your Heart,’ but it was country music sung in German,” he said.

He also has his favourite songs which he wish he wrote.
“A lot of the guys would choose a rock song, I wish I’d written ‘White Christmas.’ It is such a wonderful song. If I’d written it, I wouldn’t be talking to you, I’d be retired,” he laughed.

“‘I Am The Walrus’ would be another one. There are so many sings I’d wish I’d written,” he said.

In the meantime they have some pretty high profile songwriting gigs coming up including writing  the theme for the 2012 World Skiing championships in  Austria. They released a new CD “Big Dogz” in 2011 and will get working on another CD next years.
“We play one new song from that CD, but it fits right in with the set,” he said.
 Tickets for the July 23 Average Joes show cost $35. It is scheduled to begin at 8:30 p.m.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 01 August 2012 11:39 )  
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