Brook” was well packed for Jan Akkerman’s gig on 2 May.
The host introduced Jan as his favourite guitarist….well, favourite
Dutch guitarist….well, favourite Dutch guitarist called Jan! He
noted that not everyone present had seen Jan before, and that, joking
aside, there were no words he could say that would do him justice. Jan
and the band were then given a loud and enthusiastic welcome to the
The opening piece, Jan deliberated, was called “Between the Sheets”
or “Between the Sheep”. Then, with an aside to “Abandon
Sheep!” (which works very well in a Dutch accent), the music began.
The second piece took its title from Jan’s recent “I’m
In The Mood” tour. These two opening pieces, which I’d not
heard before, had immediate appeal and let Jan rip with some dynamic,
fluid soloing: a clever mix of jazz with some crunchy rock licks.
These were followed by the beautiful ballad “Cotton Bay”
and then a dramatic change in tempo and some dazzling fretwork for “The
In closing the first set, Jan treated us to an extended rendition of
“Tommy”. This also started with a soft jazz feel, but suddenly
opened up with the most jaw-dropping rock guitar playing I’ve
ever heard. Of all Jan’s performances this, for me, was the most
impressive and gratifying. He later explained to me that the extended
version had originally been written for Focus, but never got recorded.
The second set featured Streetwalker, Blues Root, Heavy Treasure, Mercy,
mercy, mercy and Sylvia/On The Table. Even accepting that we were in
the presence of a master guitarist, Jan ‘s playing was consistently
brilliant, dynamic and superbly structured. Personal highlights from
the set included an outstanding keyboard break by Coen Molenaar on “Streetwalker”,
an inspired and impressive drum solo by Remco van der Sluis (On The
Table), and a virtuoso bass break by Wilbrand Meischke on the encore
(Pietons/Hocus Pocus). On the last few chords of Hocus Pocus, the E
string on Jan’s guitar snapped and was quickly discarded without
affecting delivery of the grand finale. Jan and the band left the stage
to thunderous applause.
Modest and approachable as ever, Jan seemed genuinely flattered to hear
that this inspired gig had “recharged my batteries”. An
added delight of the evening was acquiring his new Live CD “I’m
In The Mood”, capturing performances from the recent Dutch tour.
This recording is pure class: combining the rich Jan Akkerman guitar
sound with simply great music. Track 8 “No Wonder” is a
truly phenomenal piece of solo work drawing on Jan’s awesome armoury
As for the discarded E string, this now has pride of place in my collection
of guitar memorabilia, alongside the autographs of Jan himself, Andres
Segovia, Allan Holdsworth and John Williams. I’ll never forget
that incredible version of Tommy, played by Jan using that very string!
Review - Steve Moore