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Review: Focus perform at the Arts4Every1 Centre
2:53pm Monday 28th January 2013 in Freetime
By Greg Burge
SINCE the demise of the Nags Head last year, High Wycombe has needed a new music venue. Fortunately, the Arts4Every1 Centre in St. John's Church, Desborough Road, has filled the gap. The centre started hosting concerts in the autumn, promoting a series of gigs by classic bands.
The first two shows featured 70s pub rockers, Ducks Deluxe and veteran blues rockers, Groundhogs. Both of these were staged in the smaller church hall.
Last Saturday saw the venue welcome Dutch progressive rockband, Focus. The location for this concert was the church itself and the audience that had ventured out on a wet Wycombe night, soon warmed the surroundings up.
Focus were formed in 1969 by classically trained keyboard player and flautist, Thijs Van Leer. Now aged 65, Van Leer is the only original member of the band.
He was joined on stage by long serving drummer, Pierre Van Der Linden, bassist Bobby Jacobs and young guitarist, Menno Gootjes.
The concert started at 9 pm with an instrumental which was followed by The House of the King, from their 1970 LP, In and out of Focus.
From the very start of the performance, the level of musicianship of the band members was evident, with Menno Gootjes performing some outstanding guitar solos.
The audience, which consisted of teenagers, ageing hippies, middle aged couples and sixty-somethings were very appreciative.
The first half of the show finished with a heavy-handed version of Sylvia, one of their most famous songs. Sadly, it was not played with the subtlety which it deserved. It seemed to be banged out in an effort to get it over and done with.
The second half opened with two songs from their latest CD, X. The first was a rocker called All hands on deck", which featured Thijs Van Leer playing the flute and another great solo from Menno.
The second was a slower number called Birds come fly over, (Le Tango). Next, the band performed a couple of tunes from their 1974 LP Hamburger Concerto". Harem Scarem, a song about the perils of drinking alcohol, was a suitably frenetic performance.
The show came to close with each band member performing a solo, until Van Leer started his gibberish vocals which heralded the start of the band's most recognisable song, Hocus Pocus.
Audience participation was in evidence as many joined in with the yodelling.
Unfortunately, this classic song was played much too fast and what should have been a great end to the evening, degenerated into a high speed, free for all.
The audience loved it though and the band returned to the stage for an encore. This featured a very tasteful flute solo from Mr. Van Leer and the band finally left the stage at 11:30pm.
In many ways this was a classic prog rock concert - at times over blown and self indulgent, at others, sheer magic. Overall, a great night out. Long may the Arts4Every1 centre continue.