Jan Akkerman is of course the legendary guitarist best known for his work with the seminal progressive rock band Focus. Since leaving the band in the mid 70s, Akkerman has worked with a diverse number of artists such as Peter Banks, Fish, Alan Price, BB King and even Ice-T. He has also been a successful solo artist and has built a formidable back catalog of material that ranges from progressive rock to jazz to new age.
The Jan Akkerman: Live DVD celebrates his solo career with two concerts recorded in 2001: an acoustic performance at the Viersen Jazz Festival and an electric gig in Leverkusen. The acoustic concert is unsurprisingly mellow, but it's hardly boring. Though Akkerman sits on a folding chair, his fingers are always busy and his backing band is happily up for the challenge of keeping up with him.
As good as the Viersen show is, I prefer the Leverkusen footage. The performance is more loose and energetic, with Akkerman clearly having a great time with his band mates. Though a couple of the songs are repeated from the Viersen show, they are sufficiently different in delivery so that they don't feel redundant. Akkerman even appeases the Focus fans with a snippet of "Sylvia" during "My Pleasure" and "Hocus Pocus" at the conclusion of "Pietons". But the material on both concerts is almost exclusively from post 70s studio albums and the music is much more on the jazzy/bluesy side of Akkerman's playing so anyone hoping to hear Focus Part II will be in for a surprise.
Both concert clips feature excellent video and the audio options include standard stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 and a DTS track as well. The DVD is rounded out by a 35 minute interview with the maestro, which includes a vintage clip of Akkerman playing in the studio with flamenco virtuoso Paco de Lucía. Akkerman is completely self-effacing about his career and comes across as a humble and down to earth individual in the interview. The DVD is rounded out by a nice booklet with an essay that details just some of Jan Akkerman's achievements. For anyone interested in delving into the post Focus Jan Akkerman discography, this DVD serves as an excellent introduction.
Part 1: Viersen (34 minutes)
- Tommy (erroneously listed as Zebrah)
- My Pleasure
- Am I Losing You
Part 2: Leverkusen (44 minutes)
- My Pleasure, including Sylvia
- Am I Losing You
- Central Station
- Heavy Treasure
- Pietons & Hocus Pocus (no yodel)
- Zebrah (erroneously listed as Tommy)
Extra Features (35 minutes)
- Interview with Jan-Douwe Kroeske
- Improvisations with Jan Akkerman and Paco de Lucia
- Coranto for Mrs. Murcott (Akkerman on lute)