Focus – At The Rainbow (1973)

USFrontCover1At the Rainbow is the first live album from the Dutch rock band Focus, released in October 1973 on Imperial Records. The album was recorded at the Rainbow Theatre in London on 5 May 1973. A studio album was initially slated for release, but it was shelved due to disagreements within the band. (An album compiled from the tapes of these sessions was later released with the title Ship of Memories.) At the Rainbow was released instead. (by wikipedia)

The instrumental rockers of the early ’70s never were any good at dulling down their musical expertise; and, indeed, it’s only a matter of seconds into their first and only live release — Live at the Rainbow — until one realizes just how talented Focus were. Jan Akkerman, named “World’s Best Guitarist” by Melody Maker in 1973 ahead of Eric Clapton and others, was amazingly on form in this performance. Thijs Van Leer, chief songwriter and performer in the band, showcased his talents on flute, vocals, and organ with unparalleled finesse. Bert Ruiter knocked out his basslines tight to Pierre Van Der Linden’s drums, undoubtedly two of the finest players on their respective instruments. It would be so easy to go off on a tangent explaining the mastery that Focus had musically; suffice to say, however, the bands technical proficiency is rarely matched in the world of rock. Live at the Rainbow featured some of the band’s best and most well known tracks: “Sylvia,” “Hocus Pocus,” “Focus II,” and so on.


Original Dutch front + back cover

Although much of the content sticks closely to its original studio form (12-minute tracks were regular on studio albums), with maybe an extra solo or two thrown in for good measure, a few songs host drastic changes. “Hocus Pocus,” for example, is almost unrecognizable. This live version is multiple times faster than its studio counterpart — those familiar with only the studio version are certainly in for a shock! Throughout the album the performance is simply astonishing. Live at the Rainbow is a fine purchase for any Focus fan, or, indeed, anyone looking for a band with a good degree of originality and musical ability. (by Ben Davies)


Original Dutch labels

This is a live album by Focus. It is an excellent live performance of the early Focus. The selected tracks are interesting: there are “Hocus Pocus”, “Focus 2” “Sylvia” and a shortened version of the epic “Eruption”, among others. The sound is pretty good, and the musicians almost sound like on the studio albums. The polite crowd favorably responds at the end and the beginning of the tracks. On “Focus 2”, Jan Akkerman seems not at his best: he often hesitates: I think the track is a bit played too fast. The mellow version of “Eruption” is particularly brilliant. “Hocus Pocus” is almost better than the studio version: they play it much faster. The yodeling is very well succeeded, and there are even a couples of further extravagant vocals parts and whistling: IMPRESSIVE! The other shorter version of “Hocus Pocus” is also fantastic, with again another special & different yodeling. (by greenback)


Jan Akkerman (guitar)
Thijs van Leer (keyboards, flute, vocals)
Pierre van der Linden (drums)
Bert Ruiter (bass)


01. Focus III (v.Leer) 3.53
02. Answers? Questions! Questions? Answers! (Akkerman/Ruiter) 11.29
03. Focus II (v.Leer) 4.36
04. Eruption (Excerpt) 8.29
04.01. Orfeus (v.Leer) 1.33
04.02. Answer (v.Leer) 1.25
04.03. Orfeus (v.Leer) 1.22
04.04. Answer (v.Leer) 0.20
04.05. Pupilla (v.Leer) 1.10
04.06. Tommy (Barlage) 1.54
04.07. Pupilla (v.Leer) 0.45
05. Hocus Pocus (Akkerman(v.Leer) 8.30
06. Sylvia (v.Leer) 2.48
07. Hocus Pocus (Reprise) (Akkerman/v.Leer) 2.48

Performed at the show, but still unreleased

“Anonymus 2”
“House Of The King” (Instrumental) (filmed)
Lute solo (“Britannia” by John Dowland)



1 thought on “Focus – At The Rainbow (1973)

  1. Great live album!
    Many years in searching this live album but with the unreleased tracks…until now with no lucky.
    Hope one day for a future release with the complete concert!
    Thank you riffmaster!


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