Looking at the music of Dutch rock band Focus, started in the late sixties by Thijs Van Leer (b /31/03/48) with Jan Akkerman (b 24/12/46). Van Leer still performs and records under the name today (official site here). Akkerman's site here.




Focus in the Underworld

I went to see Focus down at The Underworld in Camden October 29. This was the last show in a recent short tour. I was in two minds about going really but a Tuesday night in London and the family away - why not? I got down there early as I had not bought my ticket. I saw Thijs and Menno on the street and Bobby in the distance. Unusually I came across a busker with a flute but the paths of the two flautists didn't cross I gather. Inside I spotted Thijs's daughter Eva (now based in France where she is an artist in ceramics I see here). It was an opportunity to thank her personally for her contributions to family Christmas albums such as this one (although she was taken aback to be reminded of it). It was nice to see Thijs's grandson near the back of the stage snapping away with his phone. (The current Mrs Van Leer was as ever on the merchandise stall).
The Underworld is a dump and the two opening bands (Sonic Mass and Sondura) were very much rock bands (some nice melodies with Sondura, however) and I was beginning to feel I'd rather not be there when Focus eventually came on and suddenly I was entranced. They began with Thijs on alto flute and then a chorused vocal and soon they were into an exquisite rendition of Focus 1 with a brief burst of Anonymus and then House of the King (all from the ancient first album). Then it was the rocker All hens on Deck and the melodic Focus 7, both from the latest album - both again very good. A highlight was the Tommy from a long version of Eruption. We then had the obligatory Sylvia and La Cathedrale followed by Harem Scarem with some solos. Menno Gootjes is very competent and is now thoroughly conversant with the material and plays very subtly. Given the opportunity to do his own thing he likes to rock in a very seventies way but not one that I feel is very much the Focus sound. Interest waned a little at that point for me, having trodden this path many times. Overall still a great band to see and showing no signs of waning.
Two of my sons and a nephew were watching Arctic Monkeys in Cardiff at the same time. Wonder how they got on. Imagine AM when they're in their sixties!

No comments: