Focus and Manning at Oakwood Centre, Rotherham, 3rd May 2003
Focus returned to the UK again for a 13-date tour, and this was their first night of the tour! Supported by the impressive Guy Manning and his band 'Manning', this was to be a great night. A great night? Read on.
Manning hit the boards more or less after the doors opened, and with a great set of six songs, they were a ideal support for the legends Focus.
Kicking off their set was The Voyager, a nice mix of sounds circled around, and on most of the other songs, a nice sax performance by Laura Fowles was admired by all. Guy has a strong voice, and it shone through in the mix, and to mention the other players on the stage, well they are a talented lot to say the least.
A new number was played, due on the next album, and the closing number In My Life for me was their strongest song, and the highlight of the set. On this outing, they should be playing to a wider crowd given the opportunity. A good performance by guitarist Gareth Harwood, who played very well all through the set, and his sound gives the band a nice edge too.
Worth seeing again, hopefully on a bigger platform.
Now Focus played Whitchurch last year and went down very well (see Reviews) could they match it? Well, in a word, and minus the flute, Yes! Opening with Focus 1, the first song they recorded Thijs Van Leer informed us after it had ended, sounded very crisp. The Hammond played by the man himself, just sounded like it had just left the factory. Moving into the new album Focus 8 (see Reviews) the newer songs sound and blend in well with the classic material. Focus 2 was aired next from Moving Waves, along with a shortened version of Eruption, but this was well received by the happy crowd.
As I said above, there was no flute, so House Of The King was not played, as from Whitchurch, so we had a little African melody from Thijs on this sort of mouth keyboard. Good job the kids didn't see it, or they would want one for Christmas!
Onto the better-known material, Sylvia went down very well, with the #la la la la la as you would expect, and it was played again at the end of the set. The Bells from the Hamburger Concerto album was played too, and Thijs told us how he wrote it remembering the bells as a small child as he grew up.
More cuts from the Focus 8 album followed along with........... Hocus Pocus of course! This was played a lot quicker than the original version, but everyone knew it, and we had to reach the high notes too!
They played two sets, well worth it, catch them on tour, they will be touring until the end of May.
A great performance, a great night, two excellent bands, shame it had to end!
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