Posted: 27 Oct 2015
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.
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.
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.
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.