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JAN AKKERMAN Bush Hall, London,
first made his name with progressive Dutch rocking pioneers Focus who
burst onto the scene in the early seventies with a string of successful
made dents in the UK pop charts breaking the Top 20 singles chart with
the timeless 'Hocus Pocus', the yodelling classic whose riff inspired
the eponymous track by Blitzkrieg and is similar to the opening riff of
'Breadfan' by Budgie, and we all know which masters of thrash would
later cover those two tracks. Focus went one better breaking into the
Top 5 with the instrumental 'Slyvia' went went to number 4 in 1973.
left Focus in 1976 after losing interest in the direction of the band
and despite a few failed attempts to re-ignite the band on a couple of
occasions Akkerman has concentrated on a solo career with a shelf load
of albums which point to a more jazz rock area.
There were a
few gigs to chose from tonight in the capital, including fellow Dutch
modern day progressive goth rockers Delain over in Islington and around
the corner here in Shepherds Bush at the Empire were pomp rockers
Magnum, but first choice had to go to guitarist Jan Akkerman as this
offered me my first opportunity of seeing him in live action.
This is not
the sort of gig you would take a girlfriend out on a first date as the
music is entirely instrumental but the band are absorbing and
with a trio of new numbers from the just released 'Minor Details',
'Free Wheeling' set the night up perfectly. Freewheeling is exactly how
I would describe the band who can improvise at any given moment
depending on the mood.
1975 album 'Eli' which Akkerman recorded with Kaz Lux we get
'Tranquillizer' which moves more into blues terroritry, followed by my
favourite song of the night. At first I recognised the riff but
couldn't quite place it, and it was going around and around in my head
It was only
during the interval when I overheard someone say ''Paul Weller'', I
thought ''That's It!'', a cover of 'You Do Something' was delicate and
delightful with the main riff being repeated over and over.
second half the set mainly focused on his early career. A highlight was
'Answers? Questions!, Questions? Answers!' with a building jazzy riff
and some fine keyboard work from Coen Molenaar. 'Moving Waves' with
'Focus II' and a dash of 'Tommy' . Even the very first LP 'In And Out Of
Focus' was represented with 'Anonymous' played in an updated style.
for a first timer like myself, one song I was dying to hear was 'Hocus
Pocus' and whether we would get to hear any yodelling.
in almost unrecognisable fashion the track was like a steam train
puffing away ready to run down the line. It was full steam ahead
once the classic riff kicked in and Akkerman cleverly played the
yodelling parts on his guitar to create some simple yet great effects.
A joy to hear.
A quick run
through of 'Sylvia' ending the evening before the band really let loose
on the encore with fabulous versions of 'Streetwalker' and 'Pietons'.
I wasn't too
sure if I would have enjoyed this evening but the jazz rock of Jan Akkerman was simply magnificent and made a nice change from some of the
racket I sometimes indulge myself with.
gig I walked around the corner to meet up with friends who had been to
the Magnum gig and I couldn't enthuse enough to them how great Jan
Akkerman was. Trouble was no one was listening, which is a crying shame
because Akkerman has a truly unique talent that often gets overlooked
here in the UK.
Set list: Free Wheeling / Minor Details / Blind Baby / Tranquillizer /
You Do Something / Zebrah / Mena Muria / Answers? Questions! Answers!
Questions? / Focus II / Anonymous / Tommy / Hocus Pocus /
Sylvia.....encores Streetwalker / Pietons