Review: Headpins beats Nazareth by a nose in Duncan double bill

Tony Dellacroce strikes a guitar hero pose as Darby Mills roars out another Headpins staple. - Peter W. Rusland
Tony Dellacroce strikes a guitar hero pose as Darby Mills roars out another Headpins staple.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

If last Wednesday's Cowichan Theatre double bill, starring The Headpins and Nazareth, were a horse race, the 'Pins would have won — maybe by a nose.

Not that Nazareth wasn't entertaining, but the veteran Scottish group just wasn't the same without retired gravel-voiced point-man Dan McCafferty.

He was replaced by hard-working, younger, nice guy Linton Osborne, leaving the band's songs sounding like well-polished karoake.

Osborne needs to make the stage his own, maybe by embracing iconic Scottish stuff such as kilts, a massive stage shot of Robbie Burns, guzzling water from a Scotch bottle, a haggis, local guest Highland dancers — anything to tell the legendary band's loyal fans 'Dan's gone; I'm the new guy with a different shtick.'

To be fair, Osborne's vocals were reminiscent of McCafferty's on antique tunes Telegram, Love Leads To Madness, and Razamanaz, to My White Bicycle, Bad Bad Boy, Hair Of The Dog, and This Flight Tonight.

Sure Osborne, nicely flirted with the crowd, and pulled out a red receiver on Rock 'N' Roll Telephone (title of Nazareth's new CD), but that's been done.

Folks deserve and want something to keep their faith in Nazareth, or the band could sadly be history.

Comparatively, The Headpins seemed in fine form in the hands of long-time lead singer Darby Mills.

Perhaps thanks her tae kwon do regimen, and realizing her limitations, years of well-traveled road shows seem to have been kind to Mills; she sure didn't look 55.

Wedged into form-fitting black clothes and knee-high boots, Canuck rock's iron maiden — who amazingly noted playing Cowichan's Galaxy nightclub in the '70s —  belted out hits Don't It Make You Feel, Still The One, Don't Matter What You Say, Line Of Fire, Turn It Loud, and others.

That said the two singers were respectively very well backed by an ear-thumping blend of vintage and seasoned players who basically poured Cowichanians the stiff shot of familiar rock they ordered.

Rock double-header rating: 8.5 speakers out of 10.

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