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(Alpha Centauri ACE 11065F) (2003)
First time DVD from Dutch guitarist...

This DVD is a great missed opportunity. The first-ever video compilation devoted to the great Dutch guitar player and one-time member of prog-rockers Focus could so easily have yielded more. Instead we get two very good, if somewhat unexciting, concerts from Germany in 2001 and a thirty-minute interview interspersed with some archive footage.

Jan Akkerman

It is the interview that is particularly disappointing. Jan Akkerman is not the easiest musician to interview but Jan-Douwe Kroeske just doesn't get the best out of him, mainly because he asks stupid questions. Do that with Jan, and you'll get stupid answers. Admittedly this is made worse by the starkness of the English subtitles but even in Dutch this chat must be turgid. Kroeske fails to get underneath the surface of his subject and, I think, fans will be irritated and newcomers will learn very little except perhaps wonder at Akkerman's reticence.

The one revealing moment is when Akkerman suggests that he doesn't need an audience, which may in fact reinforce his image as a somewhat reluctant artist who now does his own thing away from the wider spotlight.

Some rare archive footage of Akkerman with Paco de Lucia, and playing the lute in his North Holland home, lifts the proceedings. In the film of the lute-playing the camera scans, tantalisingly, the guitar player's (then) guitar collection. Although not quite up to Steve Howe standards in terms of quantity, this could have been a cue for a longer chat about guitar styles and guitars - behind every instrument lies a story.

So it's back to the live concert footage. The German concerts were filmed at a time when Akkerman was in jazzy mode, so prog fans might be disappointed that the Focus classics, with the exception of 'Tommy', are submerged in other songs. They might, instead, wish to seek out the very fine archive collection reviewed elsewhere. All in all, a competent if somewhat flawed package.



Review by David Randall

Related>>Album review

Related>>Focus DVD review

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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