Yodel Eclipse Of The Heart

[Live] Focus, Sheffield Leadmill, 23rd July 2010

Playing as part of Sheffield Tramlines Festival,  the queue of men in woman-repelling classic rock tees snaking around the venue offered the first clue as to who was headlining. The clincher was that stout-dispensing pumps seized up through overuse within 15 minutes of doors opening (this really happened).

Led by the now avuncular presence of Thijs Van Leer (now a respected classical musician) and backed up by original drummer Pierre Van Der Linden, the legendary Dutch yodel rockers finally arrived onstage after a brief delay caused by a fuse in Van Leer’s organ blowing – it was the only thing about the gig that did blow.

Opening with the smooth smooth guitar lines of Focus II things soon moved up a gear for a frenetic, if abridged, run through Answers Questions! Questions Answers! Jan Akkerman might have done one years ago but replacement plank-spanker Niels Van Der Steenhoven sure can play, despite an alarming resemblance to Phil Spencer from Location, Location, Location. Things slowed down again as the more melodic Focus III – Van Leer needs to pace himself, dude’s 62 – led into the first major highlight of the night: the balls to the wall flute-led madness of House Of The King. One thing’s for sure, he can handle the flute.

The remaining half was a blizzard of jazz flute, pan pipe, guitar solos, and tempo changes which took in Eruption, Sylvia and Harem Scarem. This was all just a precursor to the song the smattering of Nike fans in the audience had come to hear: Hocus Pocus. The tempo at which it started aroused suspicions that it might be the single version, which would have been devastating, obviously, but fortunately these fears were allayed as it sailed past the ten minute mark. Thijs can’t hit the high notes anymore, but the crowd were more than willing to help out, before the obligatory extended, if slightly ropey, drum solo brought things to a euphoric climax.

Of course we all know what The Netherlands’ most famous export is, but this was my porn.

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