Nazareth / Streetheart / Headpins – Live In Vancouver: October 14, 2006

Nazareth / Streetheart / Headpins
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Edgewater Stage at Plaza of Nations
Vancouver, BC  Canada

**Live Review & All Photos By Lord of The Wasteland

The forecast for the night was cold, foggy and raining…not exactly conditions to get excited about when faced with covering an outdoor rock show.  The Edgewater Stage at Plaza of Nations is exactly as its name reads—right at the edge of Vancouver’s trendy False Creek neighbourhood and the Pacific Ocean—and as the cold breeze waves the flags, it also siphons through the bluff of trees guarding the open venue to chill its visitors to the bone.  In the summer months, it’s a fantastic venue but on a chilly October night…not so much.

Fortunately, the heat generated by a thousand or so close friends huddled together was some respite to this writer, as the power chords of classic rock thundered through our ears.  Canadian stalwarts Headpins and Streetheart supported veteran Scottish rockers Nazareth for an evening of bratwurst and beer that was dubbed “Rocktoberfest” by the promoter.  Indeed, the suds flowed (at $6 a pop, no less!) and the sausages sizzled but despite being stuffed with by-product-filled nitrates, fans were still hungry for some old time rock ‘n roll.

A late start forced show opener Paul Meehan off the bill, however Vancouver’s own Headpins—whose three-album career stalled after 1985’s HEAD OVER HEELS—delivered what was arguably the best set of the evening.  The bluesy, whiskey-drenched vocals of Darby Mills are as strong as ever and still draw parallels to Janis Joplin and Heart’s Ann Wilson.  Besides a killer set of pipes, Mills is a charismatic frontwoman whose stage presence is full of energy and showcases a genuine love for the music.  With four of the original five members on hand (Tony Dellacroce replaced guitarist Brian “Too Loud” McLeod, who succumbed to cancer in 1991), Headpins drew heavily from their debut, 1982’s TURN IT LOUD, for its nine-song set.  “Don’t It Make You Feel” and the album’s title track garnered the most applause along with “Just One More Time” from 1983’s LINE OF FIRE.  Strangely, the only song played from HEAD OVER HEELS was “Be With You” and not the hit “Stayin’ All Night,” but a rabid flock of devotees seemed to know the words to every song in the band’s one hour set.  Dellacroce, the biggest surprise of the night, is a phenomenal guitarist who bears an uncanny resemblance to Prince and Al Pacino.  His flash was backed up by obvious talent as he worked his own flair into the solos and really dazzled when given a brief moment in the spotlight.  The rest of the band has always been in Mills’ shadow and 20+ years later, not much has changed.  There is no denying that The Headpins are synonymous with Darby Mills and vice versa but it seems like all involved have resolved themselves to that fact long ago.

Don’t Ya Ever Leave Me
Feel It (Feel My Body)
Be With You
Keep Walkin’ Away
Just One More Time
Don’t It Make You Feel
Guitar Solo
Turn It Loud

Streetheart flew in to Vancouver for the sole purpose of playing the Rocktoberfest show.  Vocalist Kenny Shields, guitarist Jeff Neill and keyboardist Daryl Guthiel are the only remaining members from the band’s classic line-up that recorded six albums in six years between 1978 and 1983.  Besides the abundance of immediately recognizable radio hits, the highlight of Streetheart’s set had to be Shields’ flamboyance.  The man clearly knows how to work a crowd and at one point, an overly-friendly (and heavily-inebriated) female fan climbed on stage to dirty dance with him during “Look In Your Eyes” before stunned security had to drag her off in a writhing, kicking mess.  Besides dodging amorous fans, Shields appeared to be plagued by sound issues early on, at one point swearing and glaring at the engineer at the side of the stage during “What Kind of Love Is This.”  To me and the rest of the crowd, though, Shields sounded fine as the band cranked through hits like the funky bassline of “Action,” “Tin Soldier,” “Snow White” and rousing crowd-participation versions of “One More Time” and “What Kind of Love Is This.”  After a bevy of cheering and note-for-note renditions, Shields asked the band, “Why don’t we play Vancouver more often?” and it was clear that the crowd was asking the same question.

Here Comes The Night
Miss Plaza Suite
What Kind of Love Is This
Tin Soldier
Look In Your Eyes
One More Time
Under My Thumb
Snow White

By the time 10:00 rolled around and Nazareth was preparing to take the stage, you could actually see your breath it was so cold.  While most of the concertgoers warmed their cockles by double-fisting cups of draught beer, I had to maintain a clear head and keep a steady hand (the sacrifices I make for this job!!) that was hell bent on shaking and shivering.  A traditional bagpipe intro ushered Scotland’s finest sons on to the stage as Dan McCafferty’s coarse, raspy vocals tore into “Miss Misery” from 1975’s HAIR OF THE DOG.  For ninety minutes, Nazareth treated its fans to all the classics—“Razamanaz,” “Shanghai’d In Shanghai,” “Love Hurts,” “This Flight Tonight,” “Hair of The Dog”—as well as a few gems like “Sunshine,” “Telegram” and “Kentucky Fried Blues” that were greeted with an equally warm response.   I will freely admit that my knowledge of Nazareth doesn’t extend much beyond the songs found on their 1976 GREATEST HITS album and, after doing some pre-show research, I was even more shocked to learn that the band has been steadily releasing albums through 1998!  Nazareth’s core of McCafferty and bassist Pete Agnew has remained unchanged for nearly forty years (McCafferty announced before “Razamanaz” that the song was written “about 150 years ago”) and since this was the vocalist’s sixtieth birthday, a cake was wheeled out by what appeared to be two strippers and the entire crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to which McCafferty declared, “You’ve made an old man happy.”  With his thick brogue, impromptu Highland dancing and bagpipe/talk box solo during “Hair of The Dog,” McCafferty is clearly a Scot at heart but the band also recalled writing “Sunshine” in Vancouver and shared other fond memories of our city acquired over the years.  The killer rhythm section of Agnew and his son Lee on “Kentucky Fried Blues” was a real highlight, as was Jimmy Murrison’s bluesy extended guitar solo and the acoustic version of “Heart’s Grown Cold.”  McCafferty’s vocal cords are clearly feeling their sixty years, most notably on “Love Hurts” and “Miss Misery,” but he sounded as strong as ever on “Razamanaz,” “My White Bicycle” and “This Flight Tonight.”  The floor of the venue was filled with nearly as many fans singing along and playing a mean air guitar as there were couples wrapped in loving embrace for the ballads.  For 35 years, Nazareth has rocked the stage and they sure as hell rocked Vancouver one more time, as well.

Miss Misery
Kentucky Fried Blues
My White Bicycle
Guitar Solo
Heart’s Grown Cold
Shanghai’d In Shanghai
Hair of The Dog
Love Hurts
Night Woman
This Flight Tonight


Besides the crisp, coastal air, not so hot were the $40 Nazareth t-shirts (YIKES!!) and aforementioned $6 drinks, but most of the over-35 crowd in attendance seemed oblivious, their sole purpose to let loose and have a good time on a Saturday night.  After speaking with several people in the crowd who traveled hundreds of miles just for this show, it is clear that all three bands still have drawing power despite being well past the limelight of their respective recording careers.  As the crowd woke up the next morning with furry tongues and choked down a breakfast of black coffee, Tylenol and Rolaids, a classic rock station somewhere on the FM dial was undoubtedly spinning a track by Nazareth, Streetheart or The Headpins.  Like the old saying goes, “The show must go on.”

***Thanks to Natalie Mead of Donnelly & Associates Event Marketing for the press pass.

Nazareth—Official Site
Streetheart—Official Site
Headpins—Official Site





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