Years ago, I owned a pair of black, shiny pants. Nazareth was coming to the city where I lived at the time and in preparation for the show I put on those black, shiny pants and Nazareth’s albums. Later on that night when the bunch of us arrived, the place was already packed, but somehow we managed to secure a tall table with six stools right close to the stage.
I can’t remember if there was an opening act or not, but I do remember that the speakers sitting on the floor on either side of the stage were taller than me – and that’s pretty tall! (It isn’t, really.)
Finally, the lights went down and Nazareth was on the stage. I knew every song they played and sang along boisterously. The nice thing about the racket generated by a rock concert is that no one can hear anyone sing except for the people holding the microphones. This means that those of us who cannot carry a tune are at liberty to not carry it as loudly as we like.
The band seemed pleased enough with my so-called singing along (or with my black, shiny pants) because at one point during the performance, the lead guitarist beckoned to me between songs and handed me his guitar pick. It was fantastic!
The evening seemed to last for mere moments and then the show was done. The band had made their exit, but shortly after, a roadie dressed all in black walked across the floor and right up to me. “The band wants to meet you.”
“Uhhh,” I articulated smoothly. “Can I bring a friend?”
“No. Just you.”
I was invited to Nazareth’s secret club? I hoped they didn’t expect me to know the classified handshake because I didn’t know any rock’n’roll handshakes, none at all.
“C’mon,” he urged me in his Scottish accent. “They just wanna meet you and give you a poster and stuff.” It wasn’t getting the poster I was worried about. Still, I was very curious and so off I went, following a complete stranger, a little more than rough-around-the-edges roadie, through the backstage doors and out to the bus. As we walked, he asked, “How old are you anyway?”
He seemed mildly disappointed by the fact of my age. Now we were even as I was mildly disappointed by his lack of personal hygiene. He scoffed and told me, “We thought you was @*#%ing eighteen and you’d listened to all your mom’s records.”
“Nope,” I explained, “I’m the Nazareth fan. Not my mom.”
When we got outside to where the tour bus was parked behind the building I was surprised to see fifty or so people clamouring around the bus doors. My gruff escort elbowed his way through the fans, the bus door swung open, and in we went.
“Here’s the girl you wanted to meet,” the roadie said flatly. Then he turned and left the bus.
I swallowed hard and tried to look relaxed. From over a huge platter of fruit, cheese and meat, the lead guitarist stuck out his hand to me and warmly said, “You knew all our songs! What would you like to drink?” He handed me a big bottle of water and
then the lead singer invited me to sit down with him on the padded bench seat. He told me, “You know the words to our songs better than I do! Whenever I’d forget the words, I’d just look over at you to see what you were singing.” Funny and flattering.
When I asked exactly where they were from, they told me Glasgow. I remember asking how they brought their tour bus over to North America and I remember being too nervous to hear the answer. I suppose the band members flew over and the bus was transported by cargo ship or they rented a bus on this continent.
We had a pleasant enough visit although I could tell that I wasn’t the wild child they were hoping for. That’s okay. They weren’t the untamed rock stars I’d thought they might be, either. They were obviously hardworking guys, playing the music that their fans still loved, and not getting or feeling any younger as they traveled from venue to venue.
I knew it was time to go when they handed me my signed poster, as promised, shook my hand again, and told me good night. The roadie mysteriously reappeared and was there to lead me through the dwindling crowd of fans and back into the bar. By the time my friends and I departed at the end of our evening, the tour bus was gone. Nazareth was already back on the road.
Listen to me read it here: