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 Live 06

A good number of recordings have surfaced from the very busy period that the second half of 1973 was, some of them quite interesting.
Focus were supposed to begin touring America and Canada in early July 1973 but Van Leer went down with appendicitis and so the tour was delayed. They did do San Francisco (Friday June 29) and Passaic NJ (Friday July 13). Eventually they did over 20 more dates in the period October 30-December 1. While in America Akkerman hired an electric sitar, which he also used on his solo album Tabernakel recorded in between gigs in New York, July 14-25.
The sitar can be heard on Anonymous 2 in a gig recorded at the Hollywood Sportatorium in Hollywood, Florida on August 25. Either side of Anonymous 2 they play Focus 3/AQQA/Focus 2 and Hocus Pocus/Sylvia/House of the King/Hocus Pocus (reprise). That same month Focus also played back in Holland, in de Veermarkthallen in Leeuwarden. In this concert Anonymous 2 does not appear but a long version of Eruption does and this features not just the electric sitar but Akkerman playing the recently composed Hamburger Concerto riff on it.
Recordings exist from some time in Arlington, University of Texas, where Van Leer distinguished himself with quite an amazing operatic riff. In late September the band were in Europe, appearing at Alkmaar in Holland (Friday September 14) and the Turnhout Festival in Belgium (with Kayak, etc) on Sunday September 30. Rehearsals then began in Kasteel Groengueid, Holland for Hamburger Concerto. It is at this time that Van Der Linden left the band to be replaced by Colin Allen, who played his first gig with them in Toronto on October 29. This gig is notable for the first version of Hamburger Concerto, a 27:11 work out complete with drum break. They also played Focus 1 and the Rainbow material on this occasion.
On Friday November 2 they were in Bloomington, Indiana. It is during this concert that Van Leer mistakenly announced Pierre Van Der Linden on the drums and has to apologise and correct himself. A classic moment!

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