Review By Hollis

Las Vegas - Friday,  October 21st 2005 (4,250km round trip…nutz? Yes!!)

Day 1 (Tues, October 18th)
Well, the van is all set for the monster road trip to Vegas. I changed the oil and filter myself this time. I don’t want to take a chance at Mr. Lube again. That was another story I haven’t told you about. I took the Dodge to a Mr. Lube to have the engine oil and transmission oil changed a few months ago. The car had never had a leak before, ever! After paying $151 (Canadian) for the work and waiting for 2 hours, the car developed 2 leaks, engine and transmission. I went back a week later to complain and was told that my car had 200,000km on it so toug h luck, see ya, get lost basically. After talking to a regional representative on the phone some 4 weeks later I now know never to take my car there again. They’re NOT mechanics so go at you own risk. That’s what this regional representative told me. What a load of toss that is. Well I did get a free shammy out of the deal. I took the car to Canadian Tire again, stop laughing. They said the Mr. Lube job was shocking. Twisted hoses and all sorts of bad things going on. If Mr. Lube reads this, and I hope they do. I paid the money, you did a shit job so I can say what I want. Yeah, yeah, whatever, you can say what you want Mr. Lube. Anyway, $300 later, and a Mr. Lube shammy and the car is not leaking any more. Damn, I have to keep the van for at least another year now because we’ve spent too much on it.

OK, back to the story. We were out of the house at 7AM. Straight to Timmy’s for a morning brew and then onto the US of A. Got to the Montana border at about 11AM and onto the I15. Made it to the first Flying J in Great Falls at about 1PM. Not much to see here but the road was nice and smooth. No signal for my blackberry, which was annoying, but whatever! We tried to get to Salt Lake City but fell short stopped at a Super 8 Motel at 8:30PM that night after doing 1400km in Ogden. Not a bad days driving. Only 8 hours to Vegas from here.

We went out for Mexican food at about 9pm. I was wearing my NYPD t-shirt, whic h look so real that I’ve had people in Calgary ask me if I’m with the force. Well, you should have seen the looks I got at this place in Ogden. We had at least 4 people ask us how everything was. I’m not sure it was the NYPD shirt doing that but it was a pleasant experience anyway. We left a nice tip all the same.

Day 2 (Wed, October 19th)
We were up and out of the motel by
7AM and headed to the local Flying J for gas and breakfast. This was also a Flying J tour of the USA. Being Shell Canada employees we wanted to check out the Flying J’s. The best one by far was the one in Great Falls Montana, but this one was number 2. Very clean and massive. The coffee was good, but still not like a Timmy’s. We miss Timmy’s already. We stuffed our faces at the buffet breakfast and even had fried chicken.

Started south on the I15 once more at about 8AM and wanted to stop in St. George Utah for a Taco Bell lunch and Flying J. My friend Keith, who rescued us on that first trip to Trochu, suggested asking for Chile Cheese Fries and paying with Canadian Quarters, just to mess with them. I was all up for that until we got there and was served by, what looked like, the local women’s detention centre guard, so I backed down and ordered our meal like a nice Canadian. What a wimp.

We talked about how sad it’s going to be to see the last show for a while as we played Nazareth on the car stereo. We had compiled a CD with all the songs, in order from Miss Misery to This Flight Tonight. We’d been to 8 concerts this year so we knew the set-list by heart now, and all the words. Frances has a great voice but I can’t sing to save my own life, but I still do. We may try and track the guys down in Europe somewhere next year. Norway, Germany or Austria would be nice.

Arrived in Vegas at about 2:30pm (Pacific Time now) and checked into the Golden Nugget. There had been floods in town 2 days ago so we expected cool weather, but it was still hot and sunny, but a little humid still. We had a shower and headed for the strip. The last time we were here was 1983 so it was a shock to see so many top class hotels. Caesar’s Palace alone takes up about 3 city blocks. We were just in awe of the place. Frances wanted some perfume from Abercrombie and Fitch called 8, so we found that and then went for a long walk down the strip looking for somewhere to eat. Frontiers had a big sign out side that said Gilley’s – Dirt Girls Mud Wrestling Tuesdays and Wednesdays 10pm. It was about 8:30pm by now so we went in and eat, drank, waited and waited some more. It was 10:45 and still no action so we called it a night. We were still tired from the drive. So that was it for Wednesday.

Day 3 (Thu, October 20th)
Went to check out Boulder Station, the venue of the Nazareth show for tomorrow night. We took some photos outside the main entrance, where it was advertising Nazareth for Friday night. Toured the strip some more and went for supper at the Imperial Palace before going to the “The Legends of Rock” cabaret. It was a good show but what can I say, it just filled in time until tomorrow night. The show was over at 11:30 and I had a brilliant idea. I thought “let’s go to a Gentlemen’s Club!”. I was curious about it so we walked a couple of miles to a place called Sapphires. Oh, just stopped in at the Love Boutique, which was right next door. I won’t tell you what we bought there J!!! We arrived at Sapphires on foot, while everyone else was getting in and out of cabs. There was a nice lady at the door who took us through without having to pay the cover charge, which would have been $20 each. OK, I knew there would be lap dancers here but I didn’t expect to see all that going on at open tables. Hey, I’m naïve. There were some interesting goings on in there. We got a drinks and found a couple of seats. This place was swarming like a bucket of maggots as the young female bodies were squirming all of the poor lost souls sitting in the comfy chairs. It wasn’t long before a lovely lady from Hungary came and sat on the arm of my chair asking if Frances would like a show. I gently declined. We were just here to observe J and what a nice observation it was. We had 2 more nice ladies asking us if we wanted anything before they just left us alone. We’re back in Vegas for Lynyrd Skynyrd in December so who knows what me might get up to then.

Got to bed by 3am. Heather and Wendell will be here in the morning.

Day 4 (Fri, October 21nd )- SHOWTIME!!
Got a text message from Heather at 11:30 saying they were in Vegas. We had a few text messages going back and forth trying to decide what time to head to the show. Wendell was going to hire a limo so we could all go in style, but Frances and I decided to get there early so we could try and find TonyV, Lil’ and crew, and txlmaan from Alaska.

Went to Boulder Station at about 2pm to see if the Nazareth bus was here already. It was, so the camera came out as usual. We went inside to see it they had set up yet. We weren’t sure if we could get into the Railhead but the doors were unlocked and we walked in to see them doing the final checks. Tom greeted us with a warm handshake and a smile. Frances would have got a hug if he wasn’t up on the stage. We had a good chat with Tom before he had to get back to work so we headed out. Just as we were leaving and talking about the show tonight a head popped up over by the sound and lighting controls box. It was Steve. What a great fella he is. We stood on chairs, peering over the wall talking for 10 mins or so. He was setting up the lights while Phil was doing the sound check up in the stage. It was time to say goodbye for now, until 8pm tonight. We headed back to the hotel for a shower and change into our Nazareth shirts.

Arrived back at the Boulder Station by 6pm and saw Tom wandering around. Then along came Pete, who was worried that the rest of the band would get lost. This place was mad. No rhyme or reason to the set-up. The venue was an enclosed theatre, right smack in the middle of the casino. We sat down for a beer or 2 while we waited for Lil’ and crew to show up. We were also waiting for the Mean City kid, TonyV. I’d never met any of them but we knew Lil’ was short and TonyV was going to be wearing a Mean City T-shirt. Pete was having a beer with a couple of friends when Jimmy and Lee showed up. It was about 6:45pm by now. We offered to buy Jimmy and Lee a beer but they just wanted to go get ready for the show.

We saw someone who looked like Lil’. Short! Well I had seen a photo of her and Jack on the Forum so I had an idea what she looked like. There were 5 of them looking for a place to eat so we thought we’d go find them. Lil’ found us first. Hugs were exchanged. We’d finally met. We all sat down for pizza before going to the bar. Lil’ was there with her husband Jack, Alex from New York, Karen from Blackpool ( UK) and her fella, Bob from San Jose. We exchanged some funny stories and drank while waiting for 8pm and SHOWTIME! Heather send me another text message; “Where r u” was the message. They were in the theatre, so we downed the last of the beer (thanks to Karen. We owe you a round next time we meet) and headed over to the Railhead Theatre to find Heather and Wendell. We just had time for hugs and a 10 minute chat before the intro music came on. When they said it was an 8pm start they weren’t joking.

The Railhead is a fairly small with maybe a 400 seat capacity, 500 at the very most. There was a bar to the left as you walk in and the stage was straight ahead. The seating was comprised of chairs bound together with nylon ties rather than permanent seating. There was no space between the front row and the stage, which made it difficult for anyone to get up there and boogie. Even Regina had room in front of the stage for boogying. This was a nice place but didn’t hold a candle to Regina for class. I would prefer a bar and dance floor set up any day for Nazareth concerts. It makes for a ton of fun and everyone has a great time. I knew that security would be a pain in the ass all night. It just had that aura about it.

The boys came on in the dark as usual and you could hear the exact tuning of instruments just like at all the other concerts we’d been to over the last month. Lee did the same beat, Jimmy did his 3 strums and Pete did a quick riff. Dan didn’t check the microphone though. The lights came on to Miss Misery. It’s such a solid tune to start the show with and gives the crowd something to get into. Jimmy’s solo version is quite different from the way Manny Charlton used to play it, but his version is unique and brilliant all the same.

We were standing to the left of the stage, closer to Jimmy than anyone else on stage, over by the bar so we could get good access to booze, which is always a good thing. The sound wasn’t the best I’d heard by a long shot. We tried standing right against the wall to see if it sounded better but it was worse. It wasn’t the loudest either. It was turning out to be a disaster for sound. We couldn’t even hear what Dan was saying and it wasn’t his thick Scottish accent either! The sound was just bouncing everywhere. After being so negative so far I think I should pick out the highlights of the night.

Kentucky Fried Blues got some people to their feet as we notice Lil’ get up and boogie for most of it. That was one of 4 highlights I thought. Hearts Grown Cold was, I though, “the” highlight of the night. It was executed to perfection and just reinforces the fact that these guys are a talent that is hard to match. Love Hurts always gives me goose pimples and both of us felt a lump in our throats and a tear start to surface as it just dawned on us that there were only 2 more songs in the encore before they would be gone for another year.

As the guys came out to Night Woman, and she was standing right next to me, I could hear people yelling out names of songs that they wanted to hear but we knew that they’d stick to the set list we knew. I love the way they do Night Woman live. It starts slower than the album version. Lee gets to show off his awesome talent and the lights make him the star he is. Darrell Sweet taught him well before he left this world. May you rest peacefully my friend . Pete then comes in with that solid bass and plucks the stings like it’s the last time he’ll play. Then Jimmy comes in with that brilliant riff. We love it!

I tried to take some photos with my little Cannon digital camera and got 5 shots off before security said no digital photography allowed. I was too far away to get any decent light anyway so I wasn’t bothered. We then moved around the corner, away from security as the boys started This Flight Tonight. I got some more shots off and then decided to put it away because I knew they’d be rubbish. I’ve got to buy a better one for next year. Back to the music. It was slightly improved when we stood nearer the centre of the stage, but still not the best. This Flight Tonight is also one of our favorites as we hold our arms up when Dan sings the “Starbright” line. I remember him doing that when I saw Nazareth back in 1974 at the Liverpool Empire.

Well, the show was over for us for the last time until next year. As the place cleared out we waited for a bit before going back stage to get some photos autographed for some people we know, and ourselves. Lee gave Frances the drum head he promised and the whole band signed it for her. Jimmy liked the sepia photo of himself that I took in Regina; He said it made him look like a rock star! I knew that the band were going to Germany for a television interview in a few days so I asked Dan if he spoke German; He said a little but they wouldn't understand him anyway and he gave us a demo. That was funny. Dan’s such a personality. He was sitting there, in the dressing room, sipping on his glass of cognac with no shirt on. He was waiting for the chance to get changed but the room was full now so he said “sod it I’m taking my pants off now”. Never thought I’d see Dan in undies, but there he was. He quickly got changed into his other clothes that were sitting there in a nice pile next to him. We just had time for a brief chat and then went to find Tom for a final goodbye before heading off in the limo that Wendell had hired. We would have stayed and drank with the boys if we didn’t have to leave, but there was booze in the limo. Got some great photos of Dan, Tom and Steve as we left.

The limo ride was amazing. We’d never had a limo ride before so it was quite the experience sipping on a beer as we cruised down the Las Vegas strip. We were dropped of back at the Golden Nugget just after midnight. I tried to get the photos off the camera, which I did. I then tried to upload some photos to the Nazareth Forum but I was too drunk to actually do it so I gave up and went to bed. I was actually surprised that I managed to get them off the camera and onto the computer to start with.

Day 5-6 (Sat/Sun, October 22nd/23rd)
Needed to sleep in until 10am. Took a couple of pills at 7am to stop the headache. I’ve got to stop the drinking like this, I thought. OK, no more until next time then! Left Las Vegas at 11am and got to Idaho Falls at 10:30pm so we got a room at the Super 8 Motel. That was a 1000km journey.

At time of writing we’re still in Montana and about 17 miles to the Canadian border. We should be home by 5:30 tonight.

This has been a magical tour for us. We’ve had some great times and had time to really connect as husband and wife again. No work in the way, just me and Frances.

Dave (a.k.a. Hollis Brown)
Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow.
Don't walk behind me, I may not lead.
Just walk beside me and be my friend.