Focus

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Focus

Focus

Posted: 27 Oct 2015

Focus

Sage Gateshead

28 October

Thijs van Leer always reminds me of Slade’s Noddy Holder. I think it’s the sideburns. If former Slade front-man Holder is something of a national treasure, Focus founder van Leer is the Dutch equivalent. He’s been at the forefront of music in his country for approaching half a century and as founder of ‘Prog-rock’ band Focus he is responsible for some of rock’s finest tunes.

Focus have always been strongly influenced by jazz and classical music.  Much of their sound ventures into the avant-garde but – apart from the dreaded bass and drum solos near the end – as a listener you never lose focus at one of their gigs.

Featuring tunes from their latest album Focus 10, their set is based upon a trio of classics. ‘House of the King’ arrived surprisingly early, being the second number after the opener Focus 1. ‘Hocus-Pocus’ closed a 50-minute first set while a wonderfully elongated ‘Sylvia’ concluded the longer second set, eliciting a 20-minute encore, followed by a rousing standing ovation from highly appreciative and attentive devotees.

Of the new stuff ‘Hoeratio’ was the highlight, a gentle flowing piece in typically atmospheric style.  With Van Leer’s stepson Bobby Jacobs on bass, long-time off-and-on Focus member Pierre van der Linden on drums, the brilliant Menno Gootjes on guitar and van Leer contributing Hammond organ, flute, falsetto singing, whistling and even the odd bit of yodelling, Focus provided the best gig I’ve been to this year.

‘Have they learned the words yet?’ asked my better half dismissively when I got home. Focus have never been about the particularly sparing lyrics – but musically at times they are sublime.

Rob Mason

 

           

 

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