Saturday, 1 November 2008

Classic rock

It was Hocus Pocus for a Halloween treat, at Winter Gardens venue in Ventnor, where a triple-bill of classic rock acts provided a great evening's musical entertainment. The Groundhogs were a fine warm-up band, milking the horror theme with suitable props and costumes, and tech change-overs by the road crew replaced gear quickly so Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash (not that other band!) were on stage by about 9 pm. Although I failed to recognise or remember any of their material (the last time I heard Argus was 25+ years ago!), they put on a really great show that fulfilled all expectations, despite being a rather short set-list, and fetched out the air-guitar loons and geriatric rockers from a mixed audience (including 'Fred and Ginger Travolta', providing a not-very-amusing distraction).

Top billed Focus were slower to get started, but at 10 pm, larger-than-life Dutch maestro Thijs van Leer was perched behind his nearly-antique looking Hammond organ and blasting out eclectic prog-rock milestones that bought back many happy memories. In addition to classics like Sylvia, the band also performed newer composition Aye-Yuppie-Hippie-Yee, and medley-sounding Eruption. It's funny now, but I used to consider Focus, with their combo of flute and electric guitars, were a poor man's Jethro Tull... However, last night proved that van Leer's powerhouse band are not a poor version of any such thing. Focus are simply brilliant live, kicking up a storm of energy, yet making it look so effortless. (And, yes... I bought a T-shirt, of course.)

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