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Focus (Support - John Young) At Robin 2, Bilston, 29th September 2004

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Focus again are on a tour covering most areas in the UK, and judging by tonight's performance, if you manage to catch them, you will be for a treat.

Opening act John Young, provided the steady incoming crowd with a pleasurable set of six songs, and this hard working musician made an interesting point about getting gigs these days. The crowd agreed with him about the fact there are many tribute bands, and if there wasn't any original music in the first place, then tribute bands would not exist. So, we need more original bands and solo artists to create more material and then this type of music might make an impact on the charts.

John YoungBack to John's set, the one-man-band opened with Significance. On his trademark set up of keyboard and vocals, John then went through When I Was Young and Just One Day before announcing the next two numbers which were the 'long ones'. Childhood's End is a song in which it tells the tale of when you start and grow up and put your toys away for the final time. This was in my opinion John's best song of the set, and a personal favourite of mine with it's many twists and turns. Following this, Unknown Soldier which by then the crowd had grown to applaud this fine song. John's final song Cavalcade featured a touch of Genesis' Lamb's Grand Parade, and again the crowd cheered in appreciation as he dismantled his gear. It was again a great performance from John, and one of many more to come.

Thjis and Danny MayoNow enter the four members of Focus. The stage left was taken by original member Thijs Van Leer behind the classic Hammond organ, bass Bobby Jacobs, guitar was played by Jan Dumee, and making his second concert, drummer Hans Van Oosterhout. The crowd cheered as the quartet opened with Focus 3, and the Hammond sound just flowed through this number. Tamara's Move from last album Focus 8 was next, then the classic Focus 2 which featured the excellent guitar work from Jan Dumee. A new song was next, if you excuse the spelling was Ayahippieyuppieye which could feature on the next album, Focus 9 maybe!

The crowd then applauded loudly when Thijs mentioned the next song would be Eruption. All musicians performed to their very best, and we hadn't yet had the more well known material as yet. By this time, the band were like a finely tuned engine just purring along with ease. The flute from Thijs was as you would expect, crisp and played note perfect, and following the long epic was the Jan Dumee composition Blizu Tebe again from Focus 8. Focus then ended the first set with the in-your-face flute House Of The King. It was pointed out by a member in the audience that he thought this was by Jethro Tull, but I feel Focus have their own unique style, and I thought this was a great song to end the first set with.

Set two opened with the hit single and classic 'la la la', Sylvia. The Hammond grunted and sounded perfect like new, and the now large sized crowd held their hands in the air and clapped at this fine number. La Cathedrale De Strassbourg from the Hamburger set was next, with Thijs on vocals doing the ding dong of the bells. I must admit, every time I hear this played, it takes you to the heart of the city, a classic in anyone's right mind. Harem Scarum followed, with vocals shared with Jan and This, and the first yodel was heard! Yet another from Focus 8 was next, De Ti O De Mi, bassist Bobby Jacobs party piece, with fingers in knots type bass playing. Thijs then got from behind the Hammond, flute in hand, played a blistering flute solo with led perfectly into the highlight of the set, yes, Hocus Pocus. The crowd went crazy which is understandable as it is The Focus song everyone knows, and the power of this song will stand in time forever in everyone's mind.

The two encores followed, Rock & Rio and Brother, in which Thijs said it is for all the ladies in the venue. Focus then left the stage to a very large cheer, and Thijs said the band will come out to meet us and sign autographs which I thought was a nice touch to the end of the evening.

This must go down as one of best gigs of the year, Focus are here, back and on top form!  (more photos from the gig below!)

Danny Mayo


John Young


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