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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A band at their peak
Live at the Rainbow features Focus at their creative and commercial peak. The combination of prog. rock/blues and jazz fusion is a wonder to behold. The material is drawn from the albums Moving Waves and Focus III and the live performances are inspired. This CD is an ideal introduction to the work of these giants of Dutch music. Make no mistake these guys know their stuff...
Published on 19 July 2001 by S. W. Ladd

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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dutch rock band Focus's only live album
Musicians : Jan Akkerman (guitar), Thijs Van Leer (keyboards, flute), Bert Ruiter (bass guitar), Pierre Van Der Linden (drums).
In 1973, Focus were at their peak. They simultaneously had two top ten albums (Focus 3 and Moving Waves), and two top ten singles (Sylvia and Hocus Pocus). All of the musicians were voted as top ten musicians in each of their categories. Jan...
Published on 1 Feb 2003 by Keith Bridgeman


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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A band at their peak, 19 July 2001
By 
S. W. Ladd - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: At The Rainbow (Audio CD)
Live at the Rainbow features Focus at their creative and commercial peak. The combination of prog. rock/blues and jazz fusion is a wonder to behold. The material is drawn from the albums Moving Waves and Focus III and the live performances are inspired. This CD is an ideal introduction to the work of these giants of Dutch music. Make no mistake these guys know their stuff and can rock with the best of them. Just listen to the live version of their worldwide hit Hocus Pocus and be instantly converted to the cause. These latest CD issues are definately superior to past versions, it's just a pity that this CD lasts only 40 or so minutes. having said that ,if you can only afford one Focus album then this is the one!
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...and on the drums, Pierre van der Linden...", 13 Nov 2009
This review is from: At The Rainbow (Audio CD)
This is the only live recording of Focus at their peak (or at least the only one that is legally available, which is the same thing in Amazon terms) and, given that they were one of the greatest live bands of the 1970s, it's one that should adorn the cd rack of every serious music fan.

Dutch band Focus burst on to the music scene in 1971 with their second album 'Moving Waves'. The double album (remember those?) 'Focus 3' followed in 1972 and 'Focus at the Rainbow' (recorded in May 1973) came next. Featuring their definitive line-up (Thijs van Leer - keyboards and flute; Jan Akkerman - guitar; Bert Ruiter - bass; Pierre van der Linden - drums) it contains live interpretations of 6 of the tracks from the two earlier albums, plus a madcap reprise of the already completely bonkers 'Hocus Pocus'.

Focus used the studio versions of their songs as a starting point for their concerts and prided themselves on never performing the same show twice. This improvisational ability was one of the many things that measured the distance between them and their contemporaries and it is evident in every note on this album. Equally prominent are the band's two other landmark features: their technical virtuosity and their compositional brilliance. Drawing heavily on their European musical heritage (van Leer studied composition at the prestigious Amsterdam Conservatoire and Akkerman was to release an album of medieval lute music the following year) they proceeded to throw into the mix everything else that grabbed their fancy - jazz, rock, blues, avant-garde, you name it - with results that are frequently astonishing and often sublime.

Opening track 'Focus 3' is a dark, moody scene-setter - and surely the missing theme to some 1970s spy flick - with van Leer's haunting four note refrain pierced by sudden flashes of light as Akkerman's guitar streaks across it like lightning. It segues into 'Answers? Questions! Questions? Answers!', a piece of sustained improvisation that comes direct from some smoky underground jazz-blues dive on the wrong side of the Amsterdam tracks. 'Focus 2' (titles weren't always van Leer's strongpoint) contains one of their sweetest melodies to date and features more of Akkerman's signature 'violining' technique as the king of high-speed pyrotechnics shows that the space between the notes is often as important as the notes themselves. An excerpt from 'Eruption' follows (sadly only an excerpt as the track took up the whole of side two of the original 'Moving Waves' album) and this is perhaps the primes inter pares stand-out piece: a multi-movement classical structure (courtesy of van Leer), unbelievably tight playing from Ruiter and van der Linden in the rhythmn section and Akkerman's astonishing, sublime playing on the closing movement 'Tommy', which single-handedly justifies not only the invention of the electric guitar but quite possibly the creation of life itself. A helter-skelter, high speed version of 'Hocus Pocus' is next (complete with yodelled band introductions) in which all four show off like mad things before a slightly thin version of the then current Top 5 hit 'Sylvia', which misses the studio double tracking of Akkerman's guitar and which is perhaps the only one of their songs that didn't sound better played live. Another mad sprint through the single version of 'Hocus Pocus' and that's your lot.

In retrospect, 'Focus at the Rainbow' marked the high water point of the band. Everything that they set out to accomplish musically - classical themes developed into rock, improvisational mood swings, superb melodies and harmonising - is documented here. Two further albums were to come ('Hamburger Concerto' in 1974 and 'Mother Focus' in 1975) but the magic was seeping away. Drummer Pierre van der Linden quit in 1974 and in early 1976 Jan Akkerman walked out on the eve of yet another sell-out UK tour (see reviews of Focus at the BBC). And that really was your lot.

So buy this album if you remember Focus from their glory days but also buy this album even if you've never heard of them, because the stage was their metier and talent like this never really goes out of fashion. And for under a tenner you'll be getting something that you'll be listening to for the rest of your life.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Focus at their best, 12 Jun 2004
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This review is from: At The Rainbow (Audio CD)
I remeber as a teenager watching the live broadcast of this concert on tv, which I recorded on an old reel-to-reel. I played it continuously untill the music was embeded in my sub-consious, to the extent that even now I can replay Jan Ackermans solo from 'Questions? Answers!...' almost note perfect. This particular solo is one of the most lyrical and exciting guitar solo's I have ever heard. What the average listener might not be aware of is that Ackerman had broken a string early on in the piece and rapidly restrings his guitar while Van Leer solo's. You can hear him re-tuning as the flute ends and the solo is about to begin which creates a sense of anticipation that is met with Ackerman playing at his best as the solo takes off. (Ackerman was to leave Focus and more or less disapear into obscurity, which is a shame given that he is such a fine player) Just Gibson Les Paul and amp, thats all he uses thruogh out the recording, occasionally using his little finger to tweek the volume control, giving a violin like effect (believe me! I watched him do it on the tv, no volume pedal in sight!)
Some years later, I like many of my peers picked up on Punk and New Wave. This great music brought to an end this curious decade which began with the death of Hendrix, the emergance of Proggresive Music and the musical rebelion of the late 70's. Howver, the British music media still to echo's the Punk mantra that 'all things proggressive are CRAP!' The reality is that those who embraced Punk and New Wave etc where the same people who listened to Focus and Yes and all the other Progressive bands. That was because this style of music was in itself an underground reaction against the mainstream and an attempt to produce new and inovative music.
Focus where as much a part of that innovation and rebellion as anyone else and produced music the like of which had not been heard before. OK, so Hocus Pocus was a bit iffy, and the album 'Mother Focus' bland and tediuos nonsence. But there is still a richness in their sound, and for me in Ackernmans playing that still stands the test of time. Perhaps at some point in the future their music will be intelligently reconcidered, along with the other bands of that era, and the days of 'prog bashing' be put aside in favour of proper musical analysis.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Credit must be given to the Focus, 6 July 2010
By 
Jose M. Cabeza Lainez "Zentaur" (Sapporo, Hokkaido Japan) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: At The Rainbow (Audio CD)
A true supergroup, now almost forgotten if it was not for a recent commercial that Nike issued on the occasion of the soccer World Cup in South Africa. How delectable is the Hocus Pocus theme with Akkerman pungent guitar and van Leer multi-layered registers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Live and at their musical peak., 21 Nov 2012
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This review is from: At The Rainbow (Audio CD)
This band are just as good musically live as in the studio.A great addition to a cd collection. All the favourites of this early period are represented.Musicianship is first class.If you see them today...just as good with different drums guitar and base. Thjs van leer remains looking like a giant hobbit holding it all together.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Focus Live at the Rainbow - a Night to Remember!, 13 Oct 2010
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This review is from: At The Rainbow (Audio CD)
The dear old Rainbow hosted some truly fantastic events but none quite so electriying as this concert by Focus. First released on Vinyl years ago (yes, I've got that edition!), this CD has all of the incredible atmosphere of that concert. Jan Akkerman, Thijs Van Leer, Bert Ruiter and Pierre Van Dar Linden play their audience as expertly as they play their instruments. All tracks are excellent but Hocus Pocus and Hocus Pocus (reprise) have so much energy you want to play them again almost immediately. A must for all true Focus fans!
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dutch rock band Focus's only live album, 1 Feb 2003
By 
This review is from: At The Rainbow (Audio CD)
Musicians : Jan Akkerman (guitar), Thijs Van Leer (keyboards, flute), Bert Ruiter (bass guitar), Pierre Van Der Linden (drums).
In 1973, Focus were at their peak. They simultaneously had two top ten albums (Focus 3 and Moving Waves), and two top ten singles (Sylvia and Hocus Pocus). All of the musicians were voted as top ten musicians in each of their categories. Jan Akkerman was voted world's best guitarist. Their attempts to record a follow up album were unsuccessful. The project was to be abandoned, only to resurface years later as part of the album Ship of Memories. So without an immediate follow up album it was instead decided that they record a live album at The Rainbow in London.
All of the tracks come from their albums Focus 3 and Moving Waves. From their album Focus 3 are the tracks Focus 3, Answers Questions Questions Answers, and Sylvia. From their album Moving Waves are the tracks Focus 2, Hocus Pocus (and a reprise of it), and part of Eruption. Also played that night were Anonymous 2, and House of the king, from their album Focus 3. However, although they must be on tape somewhere, these are not included on Focus at the Rainbow. On the night of the recording, due to the demand for encores, Focus ran out of pieces to play. So after a long delay, Jan Akkerman, far better known as an electric guitarist, ended the evening by coming out and playing a piece on the lute which also does not appear on the live album.
The versions of Focus 3, and Answers Questions Questions Answers are similar but a bit inferior to the studio versions. Focus 2 and Eruption are performed with more sensitivity than the originals. Hocus Pocus and Sylvia are slight variations on the original studio versions. Given that all of the tracks come from two studio albums (Focus 3 and Moving Waves), anybody would be better off listening to those two albums first. Focus at the Rainbow, would probably be appreciated by somebody that already has those albums and likes them, and is interested to hear what is Focus's only (official) live recording.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ablast from my past, 7 Mar 2014
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This review is from: At The Rainbow (Audio CD)
If you love Focus, you will have probably already heard this album, some fantastic guitar work, still not too keen on the yodelling (Is that how you spell it?) If you haven't heard of Focus or this album and love Guitar work and can put up with Rock Yodelling give it a try.
Worth the money if you need a blast of nostalgia.
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5.0 out of 5 stars If only there as more, 23 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Live At The Rainbow (MP3 Download)
As opposed to bands like Man, Grateful Dead, Ten Years After who are classed as" live bands", Focus are labelled as a "Studio Band" This album shows just how amazingly good they were live and are able to transfer their music to the live arena. If you scour You tube, you will find archive footage of this concert which was much longer than the 40 minuets of this album. If only some kindly record label would hunt down and release not just the missing footage from this gig, but other live recordings that were made for European TV from the Hamburger Concerto the following year.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Focus Live, 28 Jan 2014
By 
Wumpty (Stourbridge, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: At The Rainbow (Audio CD)
Fantastic recording of Focus Live in the era of 'proper' music, where artists performed their own stuff. If you like 70's rock then get this to add to your collection (Sylvia live is brilliant!!)
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