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. 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.
AllMusic Review by Ben Davies