Steve Moore confirms Jan's legendary status,
on the last leg of the UK tour...
by Clive Woodley
Lost And Found -
In 1975 a friend handed me a small cutting from the Music Press
headed Focus Minus Jan, Focus music had become one of the most powerful
influences on my quality of life and it was very bitter news to
learn that their dynamic guitar player had left, perhaps never to
be seen again! I subsequently became increasingly pessimistic that
Jan Akkerman's playing had disappeared off the face of the planet.
Then, a year later, Eli was released. The album certainly wasn't
what I would have expected, but it had one singularly common factor
with earlier Focus recordings musical excellence! Reviews at the
time hailed the album as a quiet classic and Jan as a sorely under-rated
player. A year after that, the album Jan Akkerman appeared. This
potent showcase of Jan's formidable talent confirmed. thankfully,
that he had not hung up his Gibson, and was still playing brilliantly.
Of Mind -
Jan's subsequent releases appeared to become more introverted, technical
and hard to obtain. I acquired a treasured collection of his solo
albums through the 1980's and without exception still enjoy them.
But, as one commentator observed, Jan had faded from the spotlight,
and I really began to imagine that the inaccessible genius staring
out from my album sleeves was unlikely to play again in England.
Everything Must Change -
Fortunately my fears were unfounded, and in the last few years, coinciding
with the advent of Akkernet, Jan seems to be doing everything I, and
no doubt all his fans, could ever have hoped for. He continues to compose
prolifically, with a string of new CD's capturing the Akkermanesque
potency and pyrotechnics that distinguish him from his peers. Jan has
a band of excellent musicians whose talents do his playing justice.
He is well and truly back on the scene this side of the North Sea and
is re-establishing the prominence he deserves.
Round Goes The Gossip -
The Jan Akkerman Band's
May tour confirms all this. The idea of the Dutch maestro performing
in Kent, my home county, seemed strangely unreal! Waiting outside
Bromley's Delano, I chatted to enthusiastic devotees who had tracked
the band throughout the tour and reported that the playing had just
got better and better!
As Jan was introduced,the Delano seemed suddenly very full, with people
(myself included) vying for position near the foot of the stage. Jazzah!
provided a superb and impressive opener, confirming at once what I had
just been told outside, and perfectly complemented the first hot evening
The Offering -
Jan's playing has never fallen short of awe-inspiring, and this performance
was certainly no exception. The programme featured some unfamiliar pieces
played in a variety of styles, amply demonstrating that he really is
The Complete Guitarist.
My Pleasure -
For me there were three particular highlights. Am I Losing You was played
just as beautifully as the recorded version, including an atmospheric
intro and the exquisite power solo. Tommy, which Jan always seems to
play differently, left me wishing that every performance was committed
to CD. Having tweaked the amp. to his satisfaction, he coolly delivered
some incredible spiralling lines which would delight Moving Waves fanatics
and absorb fret-work analysts for hours on end! Sylvia's Grandmother
had one of those introductions that seem to suck the listener into the
music, was highly evocative of Focus, and included all the delightful,
quirky flourishes featured on recent recordings.
Home Voyage -
The impact of Jan's virtuosity, particularly witnessed at such close
quarters, is not easy to describe. From the rapt expressions around
me, the evening was an impressive experience for fans old and new. To
me it was clear that Jan's status since Focus days as a legendary genius
is now being convincingly reaffirmed with each successive tour with
his new band.