Tommy was here!
Jan during sound checking
30 years ago I would have doubted any prediction
that I could enjoy Jan Akkerman's music more than I already did.
After all, Focus music first hit the scene during my impressionable
teenage years, and as a result of his guitar prowess on Tommy
and their other hits, Jan Akkerman became guitar hero without
equal in my estimation.
I was never fortunate enough to see Jan as
part of Focus (indeed I got my first ticket to see the band the
very week he left it). However, with Jan now regularly touring
the UK previous misfortunes have been more than compensated for.
His gig at the Astor Theatre, Deal on 18 March 2005 was a real
The band and the audience
Despite some minor technical problems and
an “eventful” journey down to Deal, Jan and band delivered
a superb performance. Jan, (although remarking that none of the
audience appeared in need of one), opened with “Tranquillizer”.
His playing became progressively more intense and impressive as
we progressed through the pieces, including Between the Sheep/Sheets,
Streetwalker, Blues Route, Kloenk and Slow Man.
Referring to the need to revisit previous
“war crimes” Jan treated us mid way through the evening
to Hocus Pocus and Sylvia, which were delivered with such energy
and drive that I found it impossible to keep my feet still. This
was followed by Urban String and Piétons – both dripping
with Jan's impressive spiralling lines.
After this performance, had Jan not returned
for an encore I fear the floor would have been stomped right through.
As it was, the timbers were saved and we were treated to a beautifully
played ballad (evidently written by Paul Weller), plus a blues
piece featuring some white-hot fretwork.
Even after this double encore (and indeed
after the power had been shut down), the calls continued for more.
Jan and band were kind enough to return again and gratify a number
of people, including me, prepared to shout themselves hoarse to
request “Tommy”. We were rewarded with a beautiful
extended rendition. Not only that but Jan followed this up with
Pool House Blues before finally leaving the stage.
Having seen Jan 12 times now it is clear
to me that, amazingly, his playing actually continues to get even
better. True, he has an extremely talented band to support him,
but he exceeds my expectations by a wider margin with each successive
Review: Steve Moore
Photo's: Clive Woodley