He drinks, smokes and probably sprinkles gravel on his porridge every morning. Whatever his secret, 63-year-old Dan McCafferty is a singing phenomenom.
Looking and sounding like a cross between Billy Connolly, Ian Dury and Brian Johnson, Nazareth’s charismatic frontman possesses a voice which simply defies logic.
The Dunfermline-born rocket isn’t the only sexogenarian whose vocal chords display no evidence of decline but in the case of Paul Rodgers for example, he doesn’t abuse his larynx quite so dramatically as McCafferty.
From the opening strains of Telegram, Nazareth’s main man delivered a truly remarkable performance. His voice is gruff yet soulful, throaty yet melodic, raucous but silky smooth.
Introducing Bad Bad Boy as `a song we first played on Top Of The Pops back in 1973,’ it was almost possible to close your eyes and imagine you were present at BBC’s Television Centre listening to the band performing to the nation.
McCafferty and fellow original member, bassist Peter Agnew are more accustomed to playing in front of smaller audiences these days and Newcastle’s O2 Academy was probably only about half full.
More’s the pity because Nazareth played a rousing set in which recent tracks from the little-known Newz album, such as The Gathering and encore See Me held their own with the classics.
Naturally, it was the songs that made them famous which brought the loudest cheers from a crowd, the vast majority of whom were around in the seventies.
Love Hurts was sung note-perfect, and Broken Down Angel was buttressed by some hearty choral participation from the floor but highlights of the night were Shanghai’d In Shangai – quite possibly the best title of a song in the history of music – and Hair Of A Dog.
Nazareth were joined on stage for the latter by Jason Bonham and briefly Deborah Bonham with McCafferty singing into a vocoder, which, for all the world, looked like a set of bagpipes.
The late John Bonham’s sister had earlier proved a popular support act with her nephew making a surprise appearance on drums as her band played the Zeppelin classic Rock And Roll.
But this was Nazareth’s night with guitarist Jimmy Murrison and Agnew’s son Lee on drums proving the equals of their senior partners in their musical excellence.
McCafferty’s banter, his comic, tongue in cheek stage poses and an omni-present smile added to a wonderful night’s entertainment.
Before the set closed with Razamanaz and the Joni Mitchell cover This Flight Tonight, he invited the audience `Same time, same place, next year?’
I’ll be there and I suspect everyone present will be too.