Nazareth
Artimus Pyle Band

June 26, 2013
B.B. King Blues Club & Grill
New York, NY

Review by Ralph Greco, Jr.

Here’s some insightful trivia: Lynyrd Skynyrd and Nazareth played together the night before that terrible plane crash in 1977 that took the lives of Ronnie Van Zant and Steve and Cassie Gaines of the venerable Freebird rockers. Original Skynyrd drummer Artimus Pyle revealed this tidbit of maudlin trivia to the audience at B.B. King during the end of his hour-long set opening up for Nazareth.

Though Pyle released a studio album, Artimus Venomus, in 2007,he and his band (complete with dual guitarists) went ahead with a full set of Skynryd classics. At one point, Pyle took the lead vocals (which he admitted was something he doesn’t usually do) on “Southern Man” and the slightly cliché ender “Freebird” being well played, there were plenty of highlights to the drummer’s spirited set.

A spot-on “Saturday Night Special” “Call Me The Breeze,” and a surprise “The Ballad of Curtis Loew” being two of them. The nearly sold-out crowd at the famous club down on 42nd Street was as enthusiastic for Pyle as they were for the Scottish foursome Nazareth.

The band is still on the road behind their 2011 release, Big Dogz, but original singer Dan McCafferty and original bassist Pete Agnew, along with Agnew’s son Lee on drums and guitarist Jimmy Murrison, ran through a good two hours of music from the beginning, middle and latest periods of the band’s career.

Opening with the staccato grit of McCafferty’s growl on “Telegram” from their 1976 Close Enough For Rock N’ Roll album, the band rolled into the, dare I say, wickedly commercial “Holiday,” complete with great back-up vocals from the Agnews.  What followed included a blistering, unique cover of J. J. Cale’s “Cocaine,” a nasty “Bad Bad Boy,” a spot-on “Radio” from Big Dogz, (in a fair universe, this would have been a worldwide hit), and a whole bunch of songs from arguably Nazareth’s most popular album, Hair Of The Dog.

McCafftery kicked it out of the park on tunes like the screaming love-torn “Miss Misery,” the bluesy “Whiskey Drinkin’ Woman,” and the low-down “Beggar’s Day.” The quartet even dusted off their 1975 cover of Tomorrow’s “My White Bicycle.”

“Shanghai’d Shanghai” was given a go and the band ended with a prolonged “Hair Of The Dog” with a McCaffery bag pipe middle vocal ‘lead’. Returning for “Razamanaz” the night ended, as expected, with Nazareth’s cover of “Love Hurts,” again showcasing McCaffery.

Nazareth and Artimus Pyle truly entertained the packed house at one of New York City’s most venerable live clubs and did so with aplomb on a sticky summer night. It shows that there are certainly some tricks left in these ‘old dogs,’ which the crowd just ate up.

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