Can't fake a good time!


It was a delight to find Deal's Astor Theatre, so close to my home town, included in Jan's February tour. Having heard me enthuse so often about his genius, seven friends decided to come along and witness Jan's playing for themselves. I knew they'd be in for a great evening because, firstly, they enjoy good music, and secondly, well…. It was Jan Akkerman!

Top priority as the doors opened was to bag a table as close as possible to the stage. Next, a further round of beers to help savour the anticipation. Jan was introduced promptly and, with his hat hooked over the guitar machine head, strolled onto the stage alone. His opening solo ("Make No Mistake") provided a smooth, absorbing introduction. As the piece developed he was joined on stage by Wilbrand Meischke, who interwove his excellent bass playing.

Jan then introduced the whole band and we were treated to an exquisite rendition of "Tommy". Had anyone previously suggested a keyboard passage to follow the main guitar solo they might, fairly, have been accused of sacrilege. However, that's how the band played it, and I was left wishing it had been recorded so I could enjoy this beautiful extended performance over and over again. Regrettably I did not catch the keyboard player's name, but he turned in a really virtuosic and dynamic contribution to this piece and throughout the evening. (It was Coen Molenaar, IH)

"Milestones" was played at express train speed after which the pace slowed for a beautiful new ballad (which I hope Jan records soon). This was followed up with the intriguingly titled "Zebra" and an extract from Hocus Pocus. By the time the band took a break, none of my friends had any doubt that Jan is a brilliant guitar player.

The evening had a rather informal flavour, and the band slipped inconspicuously back on stage. Jan's playing on "Pavane" suddenly gripped everyone, and you could feel this was the very stuff people had been looking for. The piece was performed with all the exotic depth of the recorded version, and Jan's fluid soloing was awe-inspiring.

"Heavy Treasure" closely reflected the recorded version and lived up to its title. Those resounding Akkermanesque power chords, backed up by a masterly drum solo from Ton Dijkman, felt fantastic. More virtuosity from the entire band followed with "Sylvia" and "Streetwalker". Jan's relaxed and masterly authority really shone through in "Pietons", and he teased us with chord progressions repeatedly leading up to, but not launching into until the last minute, "Hocus Pocus".

After an encore ("Pool House") Jan made time to chat with everyone who wanted to meet him. It was great to tell him, face to face, how much his music has contributed to my quality of life. My friends, too, all really enjoyed the evening (the beer and especially the music).

Review - Steve Moore
Photos - Clive Woodley