A short while ago I noticed that Focus were playing in Swansea on November 24 so I decided on a trip to see them and my boys. My attachment to Focus goes back to my teenage years when I was converted and wanted to find a rock band that would not corrupt me. It is a little like paying homage.
I had duties here on Monday afternoon and so didn't get away as early as I hoped and with traffic and so on did not reach the venue (The Scene) until just after Focus had started.
They were just coming to the end of House of the King when I got there. I guess they would have started with Focus 1. The first half was all the old stuff including a brilliant Eruption, including Tommy, Sylvia and so on. The newer stuff didn't get played until the second half. It is hard to put into words what a brilliant band this is. The only low point for me was at the end of a ripping Harem Scarem where Menno Gootjes was left more or less to himself. It left me rather cold. Interestingly, because it was like something out of the seventies. Focus were never like something out of the seventies but always transcended the decade.
One treat at the concert was seeing just a few people dancing at the front to the rock numbers. The flute passages were also an immense treat. During the interval I bought the new double helping of Swung where the band minus Van Leer jam. Interesting stuff. Van Leer's wife Anneliese runs the shops. She has no English (and I no Dutch). I said Thank you very Dutch. She said "What is Dutch?"!
The main set closed with an excellent Hocus Pocus, which now includes a second extended drum solo for the amazing Pierre Van Der Linden. As I watched him endlessly work his way round the kit it made me wonder have I ever preached at all? Here is a man who knows his drums better than I know any text I've preached. Surely I should be immersing myself in the texts week by week. Yes, you may not be appreciated (a Van Der Linden drum break is not to everybody's liking) but you will be thorough.
So by the end of the concert I was pretty impressed and would have been happy to leave. There was some enthusiasm for an encore, however, and the band returned with Focus 3, a beautiful number that has grown and grown on me over the years, and its partner Answers Questions Questions Answers. The flute playing at this point was beyond beautiful and I was gone. Amazing.
I then needed to find my car which I had parked in haste in a city I don't know well and head for my son Dewi's. I had a nice session with him (fresh back from a weekend away with the CU in Pembrokeshire plus a trip to Cardiff where another son was preaching). He's doing fine. We went out for breakfast the next morning and had a fry up (not a good idea). I then headed on to Cardiff where I had lunch with Dylan who is working with UCCF this year and doing fine. I also popped up to Cwmbran to see my sister as she has been in hospital for a short op. She seemed well. I also met her kind neighbour and then my nephew Will came back with tales of how a friend had here handbag stolen when they were walking in Newport last Saturday (part of a haul of 13 I understand). I did start to feel a little ill before I left but only indigestion.
Anyway on the journey home I felt increasingly unwell and eventually pulled off the M$ in Reading and headed for the A&E of The Royal Berkshire. By this time I was pretty sure I must be having a heart attack. They rushed me straight in and gave me an ecg, etc. Anyway it wasn't that and after they had given me an intravenous pain killer I was fine. After being seen by a doctor I was able to go. It was quite late by then and when I tried to rejoin the M4 it was closed. It was a bit of a nightmare getting home but I was in bed by 2 am, shattered. I'm still not quite right so I'm heading for the doctor's next.