FREEK & NITS & Guests
(14 December 2004)
first published: 05-01-05 / last update: 06-01-05
Freek de Jonge and Nits joined forces again after about ten years after the original Frits concerts. It was a very different affair in many respects than those concerts in late 1994 and the first half of 1995. The things that remained the same were the fact that the Nits got to play in a broader stylistic range than usual, Freek's chaotic and funny stage behavior and the combination of old songs with newly written ones. The differences were the short and chaotic preparation for the concert, the fact that it was a one-off performance and the addition of a few extra musicians.
This concert was part of Freek's 60th birthday project 'De Vergrijzing' ('The Aging'). Freek wrote and performed a full new show of comedy each week for 15 weeks in a row in the last months of 2004. Freek and Robert Jan wrote a song for each episode of this immense project, which was successfully completed. The FRITS2 performance was part 14 of this project and was meant to showcase all the songs that Freek and Robert Jan had written. On Freek's website all 15 episodes, including the FRITS2 one, can be seen.
The concert took place at the Paradiso in Amsterdam on December 14th 2004. It was orignally planned to be two concerts at the smaller Theaterfabriek in Amsterdam, but it was rescheduled a few weeks before the concert. That was only one of the things that changed in the preparations for this project, Tom Telman (who worked for Freek during De Vergrijzing) told me about the planning and preparation of FRITS2. I summarized the main events:
Originally it was planned that a song (or
even an entire album) and a video clip would be recorded out of nothing for
Freek's 'De Vergrijzing' series (similar to the VPRO TV-show Moondive
from a few years back, in which Robert Jan had been involved). Freek decided to
not go forward with this plan and the project was put on hold. About same time
the Nits got the offer to play for a real estate company gala in the
Theaterfabriek in Amsterdam. This was a problem for the band, because Robert Jan
was supposed to be completely available to Freek in this period to write and
perform the songs for each episode and was therefore not available for Nits concerts
(this is also the reason Robert Jan could not join Henk in Helsinki late
November). The logical step was of course to combine the obligation to Freek
with the gala concert for the company. Unfortunately the Nits concert was
cancelled and the cost for a Frits performance would become too high.
The project was saved when Freek decided to only move the concert to Paradiso and do only one concert. Meanwhile, Freek was busy with his project and Robert Jan kept writing songs for him. Because of this busy schedule it became apparent that a contribution by Henk to FRITS2 might become problematic. At the same time Freek invited several other musicians that had worked with him on De Vergrijzing to the FRITS2 project. When it turned out that Paul Telman was not going to be the sound engineer for the concert , it became clear that this was not going to be a 'proper' Frits concert. It was then decided by all that the project should be labeled as Freek & Guests instead of Frits2.
All this trouble to get the project started should indicate that it would become a failure, but even though the preparation was too short and Freek was quite exhausted near the end of his theater-marathon, the concert was a lot of fun! Freek stumbled with the lyrics and his timing, but this only added to the atmosphere and he definitely was able to make this a good performance.
Afterwards the band enjoyed the performance and everyone realized that in the future there should be a proper FRITS2 project.
Freek de Jonge: lead vocals, harmonica
Robert Jan Stips: keyboards, backing vocals
Henk Hofstede: guitar, lead and backing vocals
Rob Kloet: drums
Cok van Vuuren: guitars, banjo
Daniel Lohues: guitars, lead and backing vocals, harmonica
Jan de Hont: guitar, vocals
Hella de Jonge: violin
Freek de Jonge is a famous Dutch comedian, Cok van Vuuren is a musician who has worked for many Dutch artists, Daniel Lohues is the singer/songwriter from Dutch group Skik (best known for their back-to-basics music style and singing in their own dialect), Jan de Hont is a Dutch musician best known for his work with Dutch group ZZ en de Maskers (and also in the '70s for Neerlands Hoop, which consisted of Freek de Jonge and Bram Vermeulen).
Ria Heeringa who saw the concert in Paradiso
Robert Jan clearly was the musical director onstage, with the others taking their cues from him. He and Rob seemed best familiar with the songs and the song structures, they kept close eye-contact and a couple of times even wandered over to eachother to confer and formed a solid base for the rest. But despite that, Daniel Lohues was the star performer onstage. His singing and his guitar solos brought the house down, had the cameramen rushing to his side of the show and the audience jumping up and down. At one point Freek commented that he hoped one day he'd be able to be Skik's supporting act, and tried to get him back onstage after the last song he was to perform with Frits "You can just stand here and hold the guitar. The people will love it anyway." Hella performed only on the very last encore.
Some excellent photos (of mostly Freek) can be found here
Cok van Vuuren & Jan de Hont Daniel Lohues
Just all musicians on stage. There was no special stage set-up. Henk and Robert Jan were positioned mostly on Freek's right-hand side, Rob behind Freek and the other musicians on Freek's left hand side.
The setlist was made of a a mixture of newly written songs (mostly from Freek's Vergrijzing performances, almost all music was written by Robert Jan Stips), a few songs from the original Frits concerts, some songs from Freek's past performances, some translated covers and a few own songs from the guest musicians. Not all songs from 'De Vergrijzing' were played.
Like at the Frits concerts some songs from Freek's past where from his 1970s collaboration with Bram Vermeulen, who regretfully passed away just before De Vergrijzing began. Bram and Freek split up Neerlands Hoop in 1980 and weren't on good terms for a long time. They had met each other a few times over the past years and got along much better. Freek actually asked Bram to contribute to De Vergrijzing, but Bram told that this probably wasn't a good idea. Freek started the TV broadcast of the first Vergrijzing Episode with a dedication to Bram. Episode 12 was called 'Neerlands Hoop In Memoriam' and featured Freek with a band including Cok van Vuuren, Jan de Hont and Robert Jan Stips. They played many Neerlands Hoop songs and many guests sang songs as well. At the Frits2 concert Henk and Jan de Hont both also sang a song by Bram.
Unfortunately I was not able to be present at this concerts and this makes it a bit more difficult to give an accurate description of the performances. Luckily about an hour of the concert was broadcast on TV and there were a few reviews on the Nits and Freek internet forums, as well as some detailed information and a setlist from Tom Telman. Hopefully I will be able to fill in the holes in the future, but I think a more complete recording should surface for this.
setlist provided (after a search through Paradiso) and scanned by Tom Telman
part of the setlist was missing, including the following songs:
pak ze aan die provincialen, reikhalzend verlangen & wees niet bang
Overview of all the songs played
This is how the song 'Pak Ze Aan Die Provincialen' was mentioned on the setlist. See the entry for that song for information.
De Beer Is Los
Translation: 'The Bear Is Loose'. On TV it was subtitled 'Ut Hunebedrock', after the episode of De Vergrijzing this belonged to. It's a typical blues-rock tune, sung by Daniel Lohues, who probably wrote it. It featured several guitars and harmonicas, including one played by Freek. Henk, Freek and Robert Jan sang backing vocals. Freek also sang a lead section over a hesitant blues-break, after which the song continued like it began.
Bello De Hond
Translation: 'Bello The Dog'. This is a Neerlands Hoop classic that was also performed by Frits in 94/95 and later also by Freek and Stips in the late 90s. It's a funny, but tragic story about a dog that gets left alone at home when the people he lives with go on holiday. It wasn't part of the TV broadcast. I guess it was played similar to the ways it was played before.
Dankzij De Dijken
Translation: 'Thanks To The Dykes'. The Dutch translation of 'In The Dutch Mountains' from the original Frits concerts. This version was played in the regular Nits/Frits-style, but with the addition of some extra guitars by Cok van Vuuren and Jan de Hont. Especially Cok's bluesy additions and Rob's energetic drumming make this an excellent version.
A classic Dutch song from 1963 by ZZ & De Maskers. It was sung by Jan de Hont, the original writer and performer of this song. This song has also been played by Nits as a request in 1988 and by Freek and Stips in 1997. The song is a horror story about a dinner at Count Dracula's castle. It was not broadcast on TV.
En Toen Ik 18 Was
Translation: Ánd When I Was 18'. This is a cover of Frank Sinatra's 'It Was A Very Good Year', with translated Dutch lyrics by Freek. He previously performed this in his 2002 'Parlando' performances with the Metropole Orchestra. It was not broadcast on TV.
De Ezel - monologue
Translation: 'The Donkey'. A short, but ultimately non-sensical story that Freek apparently heard when he visited Iraq earlier in the year.
Translation: 'Hard Truth'. This is a Neerlands Hoop song. It was not broadcast on TV.
Het Inzicht - monologue
Translation: 'The Insight'. A short story about gaining insight at the moment just before you die. It finishes with a short reference to the Prins Bernhard monologue.
This is a song written by Freek and Robert Jan for De Vergrijzing. The music is a pleasant up tempo country song featuring banjo by Cok van Vuuren (who gets a short solo near the end) and guitars by Henk and Daniel Lohues, whistling and backing vocals by most band members. Robert Jan plays subtle keyboard parts, coming to the more front every now and then. This song, especially the chorus, could have fitted in with the original FRITS without any problem. There are some quotes of 'Rawhide' that sound pretty good in this song. It is about a person named Jonas who lives in the countryside, but does not quite fit in. This song is one of the most successful new songs, especially if you like country music.
Translation: 'J.O.S. Fear'. Freek's Dutch translation of J.O.S. Days was part of the original Frits concerts in 1995 and was also played by Nits during the Nest Tour in 95/96. Henk plays it solo at his Draagbare Huis concerts as well. It wasn't planned that this was played at this concert. But when Freek suddenly left the stage and said 'Now do something for yourselves', this song was started some confusion and after Freek came back and said something like: 'I just can't leave you guys alone, because if I do the whole show falls silent!'. I guess it was played in the regular way, including Freek's two-line poem at the end.
Kom Zitten Mijn Vrienden
Translation: 'Sit Down My Friends'. This is a Dutch translation of a Bob Dylan song. I'm not a Dylan-expert, so I can't say what the original song is. It certainly sounds like a Dylan-song. It's mid-tempo and mostly guitar-based with Henk on acoustic guitar, Daniel Lohues on a small mandolin-like guitar and Cok van Vuuren on electric guitar. Robert Jan mostly provided atmospheric synth sounds. Rob's drumming sounded slightly militaristic. The music became more intense near the end. Freek's lyrics are about two friends who choose a different path in life: one becomes a pacifist, the other a veteran soldier.
Translation: 'The Moon'. A Vergrijzing song by Freek and Robert Jan that wasn't broadcast on TV.
In between songs Freek often did some monologues, often funny ones, but sometimes they had a serious tone. Sometimes they seemed to go towards a punch line, but in typical Freek-style often they went no-where at all.. I've included a few monologues in this song list. These are the ones that were broadcast on TV, but undoubtedly there were many more. I've put their (unofficial) titles in italics to show the difference between the songs.
A cover of the Saint James Infirmary, which Freek had done before in his 2003 program 'De Kneep'.
Pak Ze aan die Provincialen
Translation: 'Handle Those Provincials'. A traditionally Amsterdam ballad written by Freek and Robert Jan for De Vergrijzing. It features an old-fashioned sounding organ and piano, as well as a banjo played by Cok van Vuuren. Henk and Rob also play on the song. Henk also provides backing vocals in the chorus. The chorus sounds a bit like a drinking song. The song is about people from Amsterdam looking down at people visiting the city from other parts of the country. On the setlist this was called 'Amsterdam', but on the TV broadcast it had this title.
Translation: 'Quarantine'. A very entertaining song written by Freek and Robert Jan for De Vergrijzing. The lines the verses are alternately sung by Henk and Freek. The chorus and some other parts is sung together by them. The contrast between their totally different vocals works pretty well in this song. The music is quite atmospheric with synth strings very prominent. Cok van Vuuren adds electric guitar (including a laid-back solo). With a bit more rehearsal time, this could have been even better.
A Neerlands Hoop song that was also done during the original Frits concerts in 94/95. It wasn't broadcast on TV, but I guess it didn't differ too much from the earlier versions. according to reports Rob's drumming was great in this song, including drum riffs from the Golden Earring song 'Radar Love' in the song.
Prins Bernhard - monologue
Translation: 'Prince Bernhard'. Freek gets angry about all the attention the recently deceased Prince Bernhard gets, while other people who have a much more difficult life and get no attention at all. It's pretty funny, but definitely has a sarcastic undertone. reek came back to this subject several times in his monologues.
Prins Bernhard (1921-2004)
Approximate translation: 'A Desire To Fondly Look Forward To'. The intro sounds a bit like House Of The Rising song, the rest sounds like a Bob Dylan tune, but I believe this is something written by Freek (and maybe Robert Jan) a few years before. It's a dramatic tune with plenty guitars and Robert Jan on organ and several musicians on backing vocals.
This is a solo song of Bram Vermeulen, sung by Henk as a tribute. Freek was not present on stage. Bram Vermeulen had a rather raw voice and Henk's more smooth voice was something quite different from the original. Unfortunately this wasn't broadcast.
Bram Vermeulen 1946-1994
Stan Meijer's Blues
A song from Skik. Sung by Daniel Lohues. It wasn't broadcast on TV. The Geespot weblog describes it as the best Dutch blues song ever, the lyrics, provided by Daniel Lohues to the weblog, are:
‘t Gung mis.
weet ik waor de waore schuld lig.
Mar wat is de waorheid weerd...
De lucht was knal oranje,
en de wind zat net verkeerd
‘n Beste muur.
Ja, dat scheelt.
Deur te veul te hebben vuuld
heb ik muurn bouwn leerd.
Ik zie ‘t as ‘n ongeluk,
Dat ik heb accepteerd.
De lucht was knal oranje,
en de wind zat net verkeerd
En wat dan nog?
En wat dan nog?
En wat dan nog, a’k de ziele an de duvel heb verkocht?
En wat dan nog?
En wat dan nog?
Van God lös leup ik vast.
En wat dan nog?
Hef ‘n deukie an te wiezen.
Kiek, daor gung ‘t verkeerd.
En de lucht was knal oranje.
En de wind zat net verkeerd
Een Stoet Malloten
Translation: 'A Procession of Idiots'. This was the only song Henk wrote for this project. It wasn't broadcast, very likely due to the fact that Freek had a lot of difficulty with it. The song was a duet with Henk, but Freek's timing was completely wrong (starting to early or sing during a keyboard solo and similar things) and the song was stopped halfway through. They attempted it again in the second half of the concert (to the surprise of everyone but Freek, still with many dropped bars by him and without the keyboard solo). It was played to the end, but again probably wasn't good enough to be broadcast.
Totdat Ik Er Niet Meer Ben
Translation: 'Until I'm Not There Anymore'. A song written by Freek and Robert Jan for De Vergrijzing. It has a hesitant melody with nonchalantly played electric guitars, drums and flute sounds. The melody slightly reminds me of Freek's hit 'Leven Na De Dood'. It seems the lyrics are about that Freek wants to do what he wants until the day he dies.
Translation: 'Two Buses'. This very intense song was moved to the encores. It wasn't broadcast and I have no information on it. It is originally a song from Neerlands Hoop. It is also known under the title 'Er Waren Eens Twee Bussen'.
Het Uiterste - monologue
Approximate translation: 'The final thing'. A short story about how far you can go in changing the world or yourself. Henk played a soft acoustic guitar backing behind Freek's talking.
Translation: 'Patricide' (Killing your own father). A tragic story of a father and a son, sung over a pleasant jazzy groove. This was written by Freek and Robert Jan for De Vergrijzing. It included some nice licks on electric guitar by Cok van Vuuren and nice drumming by Rob. Robert Jan provided the piano chords and melodies. Henk and Robert Jan provided some backing vocals. Near the end the tempo drops and the lyrics become a bit more general, before the song returns to the more up tempo chorus. Even though it is musically not groundbreaking, it is quite a nice song.
Vergeet Mij Niet
Translation: 'Forget Me Not'. A piano ballad written by Freek and Robert Jan for De Vergrijzing. Only Freek's voice and Robert Jan's piano are in this slow song. It's quite beautiful, even though Freek's singing in the chorus isn't always subtle. The song is about people who recently died. It refers to Bram Vermeulen, Theo van Gogh and André Hazes, all famous Dutch people who died too young in 2004.
De Vondeling Van Ameland
Translation: 'The Foundling Of Ameland'. This is a song written by Freek and Dutch musician Boudewijn de Groot. It was previously performed in Freek's 2003 program 'Parlando' with the Metropole Orchestra. It's a slow, beautiful song with a wonderful chorus. this song would have worked perfectly in the original Frits performances. The music features electric guitar by Cok van Vuuren, acoustic guitar by Henk , strings and piano melodies by Robert Jan. Rob mostly used brushes. Henk sang low, soft backing vocals. The lyrics are about the life story of a boy who was found on the beach of Dutch island Ameland.
Wat Ik Geleerd Heb In Dit Leven
Translation: 'What I Learned In This Life'. A song from Neerlands Hoop from the 70s. It was sung by Jan de Hont, who played with Neerlands Hoop in that time. It was not broadcast on TV.
Wees Niet Bang
Translation: 'Don't Be Afraid'. This was released in 2002 on the BOSK tribute CD by the Nits. The lyrics are by Freek, the music by Henk. It was performed in 2003 just before the 1974 album and tour as a surprise performance by Nits at a Freek de Jonge performance. The song was played several times on some Dutch radio stations for a while at the same time. The song wasn't part of the original broadcast, but it ended the broadcast of the last episode of De Vergrijzing. I think the music was from the Paradiso performance, but it was accompanied with short clips of past Freek shows mixed with the performances of both the 2003 and 2004 performances of this song. This was the last song of the concert and the only song in which Hella de Jonge played violin.
Freek & his band with Nits playing 'Wees Niet Bang' in Carré, Amsterdam (2003)
Thanks to Tom Telman for the setlist and
Thanks to Ria Heeringa for the review on the Nitslist.