Focus – Focus 50, Live in Rio and Completely Focussed: Album Review

Focus release ‘Focus 50’ –  a concert recorded in Nitteroi, Rio de Janeiro, in 2017. The amazing show features music from across the history of the band from early signature hits to music released in 2017.

Release date : 30th April 2021

LabelCherry Red

Format: 3CD & Blu Ray Deluxe Edition

In October 2019 before the dreaded lockdown, a live viewing of the band at Manchester’s  Band on the Wall  (reviewed here) provided an intimate live performance from the latest Focus lineup and displayed a sound indistinguishable from the original version of the band with Jan Ackerman. With founder members leader Thijs Van Leer and drummer Per Vander  Linden there to oversee the original and incomparable Focus sound, the small, close-knit audience witnessed a night to remember with current guitarist  Menno Gootjes who joined the  2010 and Udo Pannekeet. 

That evening is not dissimilar to the live performance the listener is treated to on Live in Rio, although the venue was clearly much larger and more deserving of the original and new members’ talents.

This excellent performance included extended versions of all Focus fan  favourites, Focus 1,  House Of The King and Sylvia. One of the amazing features of Focus is that their longer pieces like Eruption and Harem Scarem can hold the attention as well as the shorter yet slightly extended single material. A wonderful 20-minute version of their most famous signature piece Hocus Pocus precedes a grand finale of Focus 3.

The two live recorded discs provide for any newcomer with a virtual history of Focus as material from Focus past is blended in magnificently with more later compositions – All Hens On Deck and Le Tango from 2012 ’s  X  and Song For Eva released in 2017.

This 50th-anniversary package includes a Bluray version of the concert and for those aficionados of all of their tracks named Focus + a number, there is a CD, Completely Focussed, literally of all 11!!

Throughout the whole package, the fans are generously treated to everything that we love the most out of the group. A fusion of jazz, classical and rock music with astounding riffs, driving drums, majestic keyboards, and of course vocal acrobatics. Focus continues to enthrall with blistering paced rock numbers as well as tranquil heavenly instrumentals. Anyone listening to this for the first time would be unaware that most of the music is from the annals of rock history as the music can compete with any contemporary groups who can now have the benefit of modern technology.

The discs are accompanied by a booklet with notes by the band, their long serving engineer Geert Scheijgrond and South American tour promoter Marcel Castro .

As the 50th Anniversaries begin to pile up from the golden year of 1971, this package is amongst the best as the music is still fresh with fascinating, jaw-dropping new arrangements and will mouth-wateringly culminate in the release of a brand new studio album in early 2022.

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