Jan Akkerman at the Roses Theatre in Tewkesbury and at the Robin R&B club in Birmingham - May/2000

- Text sent by Leigh Woolford

Jan Akkerman at the Brook in Southampton on 1999 tourI did not go to the Bromley gig but I did go to two of the others. The first was at the Roses Theatre in Tewkesbury, the second was the Robin R&B club in Birmingham. Both were superb but the Robin gig was special.

On Wednesday night at Tewkesbury, Jan and the band played two sets of about 50 minutes each plus two songs for encore. The first set was very jazzy and featured several new Jazz songs. The ones I can remember the name of were Jazzah, EUFACup & Summah's Rose but there were others. The were all very laid back and melodic. I thought Jan was using his Gibson Johnny Smith Jazz guitar but when I asked him about it afterwards he said it was a Gibson LS custom (I think) as the Johnny Smith wasn't very easy to use on stage. Anyway, it had a very jazzy sound and suited the music well. The first set was very mellow and relaxed and unlike the tour from last year. In the second set, Jan changed to the tiger stripe Gibson Les Paul personal (the one in the picture I sent you a while ago). The second half songs included Tommy, Am I Losing You, Sylvia's Grandmother, My Pleasure and my personal favourite No Hang Ups. It was a great night and the music was superb. I talked to Jan afterwards and he seemed happy with the gig.

The Friday night gig at Birmingham took me by surprise. I was expecting much the same as Tewkesbury but I was wrong. The gig had a completely different atmosphere. Tewkesbury was a small theatre with the audience seated but Birmingham is an well known R & B venue and the audience stands very close to the stage. I was about 5 feet from Jan throughout the gig. Well, it was amazing. Due to the band getting lost in Birmingham it was quite a late start at about 9.55pm but Jan and the band played right through without a stop until about 11.45pm. The first two songs were with the jazz guitar but then it was the Les Paul for the rest of the night.

The songs were much the same as Tewkesbury but there was an much rockier feel to it. They also did Streetwalker and a Jam based around the Anonymous riff. I think this may have been the first time they had played this as we heard them rehearsing it in the soundcheck (as we sampled the local beer). The highlight of the night for me was "Am I Losing You" which actually brought tears to my eyes (and the eyes of lots of other people too.....) Watching Jan close up is an education. I just cannot imagine how he plays some of the things he plays. I may be biased but in my opinion he is certainly the best there is. The others in the band are pretty amazing too. I don't know what was special about this night, but something was happening. Everyone in the band was on top form and they seemed to be having such a good time. I think it was probably the greatest gig I have ever been to in my life.

I bought a copy of Jazzah, a limited edition CD at Tewkesbury. It has three songs on it, two versions of Jazzah and Summah's Day. Jan signed it for me together with a "Focus in Time" poster I was given. I also bought a copy of Ton Dijkmans solo CD which is very good (and Jan plays on three of the tracks). I chatted to Jan for a while afterwards and tried to persuade him to come to Wales (where I live) on the next tour. He said he would see what he could do.

I took my vinyl copies of Tabernakel and Hamburger Concerto to Birmingham and again Jan signed them for me. He seemed very pleased after the Birmingham gig as it went so well. He said the audience was superb and they loved playing at the Robin. He signed loads of stuff for people and chatted for a long while. When I gave him Tabernakel to sign he commented that he looked like Jesus on the cover. My wife always says the same thing !

I hope this gives you a flavour of the gigs I saw.


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