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Focus - Live At The Rainbow CD (album) cover

LIVE AT THE RAINBOW

Focus

 

Symphonic Prog

3.44 | 91 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars I always read terrible reviews about this album something with I don't agree, of course is not one of their masterpieces, but the quality of the music and the selection of songs is outstanding.

Probably some fans aren't too happy without The House of the King, but the mood of the concert is different to any other band, somehow dreamy and oneiric, with that atmosphere that covers the audience as a thick cloud of mist that covers the listener but instead of suffocating him the music helps to relax (Except of course for Hocus Pocus).

The album starts with the excellent Focus III, a beautiful track with a gentle intro of keyboards and guitar, it's pleasant to listen how the music perfectly flows, almost with no interruptions or dramatic changes until around the third minute when it turns more jazzy oriented as to prepare the organ ending, a short piece of art.

With no interruptions they lead us to Answers? Questions!! Questions? Answers! that creates a perfect contrast with the soft Focus III, the intro is almost frantic at some points based in Akkerman's great guitar riffs and Thijs Van Leer amazing keyboard plus an extra instrument in Thijs voice, because he's one of the few vocalist that doesn't use his voice for singing but for adding extra sounds and laments.

In this track there are many changes and sudden explosions with an organ that sounds very close to the Italian Farfisa of the late 60's that gives the strong Psychedelic sound, but around the middle Thijs offers us one of his incredible flute semi-solos ((with drums background followed by another semi solo by Jan Akkerman that reminds me a bit of Steve Hackett, From that point the songs keeps flowing gently with a jazzy atmosphere where all the members of the band are simply amazing. Eleven minutes of different but very talented prog' rock.

Talking about music that gently flows, it's the turn for Focus II, again introduced by Thijs keyboard enhanced by Jan's guitar and a very competent Bert Ruiter in the bass, the keyboard parts are faster than in Moving Waves affecting in some way the soft and perfect balance of the original version, but still very good and relaxing.

Eruption is based in the tragic Greek Myth of Orpheus, the man that created music who was destroyed after her true love's (Euridice) death and went to the rescue, of her down to hell.

The icy queen of the Underworld: Persephone, impressed with the beauty of Orpheus music, pleaded with her husband Hades to let Orpheus bring Euridice back to the land of the living. Hades could not deny his queen her request, and agreed to let Orpheus bring Euridice back on one condition: that he should not look upon her until they were both back in the land of the living. When they were about to reach the light, Orpheus felt doubts and turned back to see Euridice for a second before her soul was taken back to the world of the underworld.

The problem with this beautiful and complex song is that the version for The Rainbow Theater is too short (8:30 minutes against the 23:04 of the original version), this track was composed to musically describe a story and when mutilated for a live concert lacks of sense.

Despite this fact, works as an excerpt, because gives us a clear idea of the beauty of the music with the complex baroque sections like taken from a Cathedral and the peaceful passages that join perfectly with the next sound explosion. Jan Akkerman's solos require special attention because reminds me of Carlos Santana at some points.

The next track is the famous Hocus Pocus which as we all know is just a joke where Thijs yodels at his entire pleasure while Bert Ruiter and Pierre Van Der Linden backup him with appropriate bass and drums, don't take it seriously, not even Akkerman's guitar riffs, as I said before it's just a joke.

The last track (because Hocus Pocus Reprise is really a filler to complete the planned time) is Sylvia, Focus first commercial hit, Thijs dedicates this song to a girl that used to sing with him when both worked as backing vocalists for a well known Crooner from the Netherlands. Originally had lyrics but at certain point Thijs decided to use his voice for anything but singing, good track even when more commercially oriented.

Focus concerts were probably the simplest of Progressive Rock, they almost didn't used lights or created an spectacular show, they only did what they knew best, play their music, and for God's sake, they always did it well.

If you want to listen a frantic concert where people shouts and joins the band, don't buy it, but if you want a rare testimony of Focus calmed style on stage, it's a great purchase.

Despite the previous terrible reviews I'll give this album 4 stars because it showed me a new perspective of Focus working together.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 4/5 |

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