This tour followed the Giant Normal Dwarf album from 1990. The tour started somewhere in the end of 1990 and continued at least until July 1991. They played a theatre tour in the Netherlands and went abroad to Germany, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Finland, Estonia (their first time there), Canada, Austria, Hungary, Denmark and maybe a few more countries, making this one of the more extensive tours they ever did. The songs were mainly from the recent album and were played in the trio version that also did the album. The songs, the fun on stage and the great stage design made this tour very good and it was well received by both audience and press. Some special radio and TV appearances were also done this tour. The most noticeable are a solo performance of Henk, doing 2 songs with acoustic guitar at the Hans Schiffers radio show and a performance for Dutch radio show Leidsekade Live, in which they only had a piano, very little percussion and an acoustic guitar. They played a handful of songs this way live on the radio without any special rehearsal whatsoever. The band liked this performance so much they decided they would do an entire album of just percussion, vocals and piano. This idea of course evolved into the Ting album, that was released in 1992. The concert in Haarlem was broadcasted live on Dutch radio, with the exception of the last encore.
This was the smallest Nits touring version ever. Joke had to leave the band, because of a muscle disease, so there was no bass player. Instead of finding a new one the remaining members decided to perform as a trio for this tour, just like they did on the giant normal dwarf album. Most of the bass parts were done by Robert Jan on the synth, but Henk also played some bass during several songs and even Rob played the bass during one song! For the next album they would still mainly operate as a trio, but for the following tour they found two new members.
Henk Hofstede: lead vocals, acoustic, electric and baby guitar, bass, bike bells
Rob Kloet: drums, percussion, drum computer, backing vocals, bass
Robert Jan Stips: keyboards, synth bass, backing vocals, Hendrix guitar, harmonica
The stage setup was pretty cool for this tour. There were some impressive special things on stage. The most visible ones were the two dancing towers. They were actually introduced as new band members by Henk. Their names were 'Here' and 'There'. When Robert Jan introduced Henk he would say: 'Between Here and There, so he is Everywhere: Henk Hofstede'. The towers were able to move with the music, performing a dance. The song Torni was actually written as ballet music for the tower dance. As the first picture below I've scanned the Torni cd-single cover, on which the towers can be seen. For King of Belgium there was also a great thing. A big yellow and red striped tower with Henk on top of it dressed in a king's outfit was moved on the stage. There is also a picture of this below (thanks Brian for sending it to me). The band was lined up so that Rob and Robert Jan were facing each other, with their sides to the audience. Henk would move around in the space in between them. Ronald provided me with some more pictures from this tour. The black and white group and Henk portraits above and a color picture of the band in front of the towers, this one is below the King of Belgium picture. They were taken by Rob Marinissen and were published in Dutch music magazine OOR, 17-11-90.
All of the songs from the giant normal dwarf (GND) album and some GND b-sides were played. Of course also the greatest hits and some rarities were played. Because of the trio version of the band the songs sometimes had to be reworked a lot to be able to play them. Especially the bass parts for a lot of songs were cut down severely. Robert Jan's incredible talent can be witnessed best this tour. He sometimes managed to play 3 or 4 synth sounds at the same time. Part of this of course is clever programming, but most of it was Robert Jan being very busy! Besides playing the keyboards he often also sang backing vocals and playing synth bass, often using a 'bubbly' bass sound, which I think sounds very cool. Rob's drumming isn't as 'big' as you might expect. He chose to be more subtle than loud this tour. For a few songs he would also use a drum machine. Henk played electric bass for a few songs. He used his guitar also a lot, in contrast with the album versions, on the GND tracks to play some of the melodies. For one song (pelican and penguin) Henk would sing and play acoustic guitar, while Rob played bass and Robert Jan went crazy on electric guitar. The older songs also sounded different this tour, some of them could have been on the GND album in these versions. All in all a very interesting tour, with some great performances.
The Urk version of this song was a small hit in the Netherlands a year before the GND tour, so it was usually received very well by the audience during this tour. The song was played rather similar to that Urk version.
A drum only intro started out this song, with Henk usually talking over it. The vocal samples entered pretty soon, followed closely by Henk's singing. Robert Jan played a large number of keyboard sounds in this song: keyboard bass, sound effects, voice synth, horn sound and a high synth sound. And as if this wasn't enough he also provided backing vocals, together with Rob. In contrast to the album version Henk played guitar and during the instrumental part he uses it to play the melody once through.
This very abstract number from the giant normal dwarf was played surprisingly well in this tour. It was definitely based on the album version and it sounds similar, but also it managed to sound somewhat improvised. Plenty of sound effects, mainly rattles and voice samples (ohooh, etc). Henk would also do some ohs live. There was some cool interplay with the keyboards and the percussion.
This song only became part of the regular show late in the tour. In the Berlin concert it was played as a request and Henk commented that they hadn't played it in a while. Just the first verse was sung, accompanied by percussion and piano. After about 45 seconds an orchestral sound ends the song and Henk says: 'a very small bauhaus chair'. At the Haarlem concert a few months later it was played in full in the first part of the show before the intermission. The intro was just piano, later joined by sparse, but effective percussion from Rob. Robert Jan also played keyboard bass, a violin sound and organ besides the piano. The organ entered after the first verse, at the same time his keyboard bass playing became less. In the instrumental part in the middle the melody is played through on the organ. After this instrumental part the violin sound was used. The last verse was piano and organ again.
The song started out as usual with the bike chain and bell sounds, this time a combination of real bike bells by Henk and synth bike bells by Robert jan. After the percussion entered there was some piano weirdness until the main theme was played with the port of Amsterdam sound and Henk's guitar. The drumming was rather heavy and the song had a strong keyboard bass. The song was for the rest played similar to the original, but in the breakdown part Robert Jan was playing with his pitch wheel during the bike bell sounds, resulting in weird distorted bike bells among the other strange noises that were already there. These noises were often continued during the remainder of the song, which had a very strong sounding ending. The final noises were a distorted 'Bike in Head!' sample.
During the intro from 'the train' Henk and Rob would play a few lines from this classic song from Simon & Garfunkel. It would only be a few seconds long with only the lines 'I am just a poor boy and my story's seldom heard'. Henk explained when they did this that it was to prove that they really played live. They would also do an even shorter version of a song that might be called dandy.
Henk played baby-guitar in this song, which is just a very small guitar with a typical sound. He used it to play the melody along with Robert Jan. While Robert Jan played the melody tight, Henk played it much more freely, resulting in a nice effect. Robert Jan played the electric piano, keyboard bass and he provided sound effects (rain, wind, clocks, birds). Henk used an echo on his voice, while Rob provided backing vocals. It was played rather close to the album, creating a nice atmosphere. The song ended with some of Robert Jan's sound effects. In the Leidsekade Live radio show the bass and keyboard parts were replaced by piano. Robert Jan played rather sparse with just some chords and the main melodies. Rob used brushes drums and Henk played guitar. It was played a little bit faster and somewhat shorter than the normal live version. At the Hans Schiffers radio show Henk performed this song a little bit shorter with just acoustic guitar and vocals.
After some frantic shouting by a German fan at the Berlin concert for a 'Zugabe' (encore) the band came back on stage and started playing this song. It stared out with guitar and vocals. During the beginning Robert Jan played some orchestral sounds and piano. The drums entered the song slowly. From the first chorus the song was played as was documented on the Urk album, except the bass of course. Robert Jan also took much more freedom with his lines, especially with the 'cabins' sound and the piano. Henk's singing was very enthusiastic and the band's playing got increasingly faster. The ending was similar to the Urk version, with the classical end, followed by a continuation for a few bars.
During the intro from the train Henk would play this song for a few
seconds. I don't know it and the only lyrics are 'dandy, dandy'. It's probably an old song
since a lot of audience members recognize it. It was often played together with Simon
& Garfunkel's the boxer.
Tuomas Kitkiojoki kindly provided me with the following info:
'This song is indeed called Dandy, and it was originally done by The Kinks on their 1966 album "Face To Face". Too bad the Nits' version is only 3 seconds long, I would love to hear a complete Nits version of it.'
This song was played as it almost always was, except for the bass parts of course. Normally this song has a great standing bass backing, but Robert Jan's keyboard bass was very sparse and much less prominent. He also played the lead and backing melody on the keyboards and later on in the song he also started playing piano. Rob drummed using brushes.
I believe this is a song by Jonathan Richman. At the recent
Alankomaat concerts after the show when the lights went on the original version of this
song was played over the PA. At the Berlin concert Henk suddenly started playing this
instrumental on his guitar in between two other songs. Rob's percussion entered soon and
he's even using a gong. Robert Jan joined about halfway through with his keyboard. After a
nice ending Henk said: 'intermezzo!'.
Tuomas Kitkiojoki mailed this extra information to me:
'Egyptian Reggae was originally done by (Jonathan Richman &) The Modern Lovers on their late 1970's album "Rock'n'Roll with the Modern Lovers". The song was a top 10 hit in the UK, and quite popular all around Europe, I assume.'
This unreleased tune was also played at the previous tour, but in a somewhat different version. It was played in Berlin as a short intro for J.O.S. days. It's a real blues song with harmonica and piano, with lyrics that start out as 'since my baby left me'. The original version is a blues about not being able to play football, but in this tour most of these lyrics were gone. After a dramatic ending Henk sayd in a low voice 'yeah' before J.O.S. days started.
This song sounded a little bit different from the original album version. It was a lot more jazzy, almost sounding like the classic jazz-tune 'take 5'. Robert Jan played the bubble bass, an orchestral sound, organ, soft bell sounds and a sax sound for the main backing. The instrumental part was rather wild, with a very short solo using the sax sound. Rob did the backing vocals and very sparse drumming in most parts. The drums got more pronounced further on in the song. The song ended instrumentally with mainly organ.
This song opened all concerts. It had the same intro as on the album, but the rest of the song was played much lighter. Robert Jan played a harpsichord sound on his keyboards for the main melody, also he played keyboard bass. At the Leidsekade Live performance the intro was played very mellow on the piano. For the rest of the song this is kept up. The more staccato were not present in this version. Only Rob's drumming was similar to the original live version. The piano playing and the singing got somewhat stronger later on in the song and Henk started playing some guitar. The small instrumental part sounded very nice with just the piano. At the Hans Schiffers radio show Henk performed this song solo with just the acoustic guitar and vocals. In the instrumental part Henk whistled the melody.
The eerie intro was followed by Robert Jan's bubble bass. He would also use a mandolin-like sound, a harpsichord sound and in the chorus a synth choir sound. The song was played similar to the album version, but after a few minutes the song stops and continuous again after a few seconds. This part usually fooled the audience into thinking that the song was over. The band usually started playing again just as the applause started! The last part of the song tight, but somewhat wild.
The bass sound in this song sounded like a real bass guitar, but I still guess it was Robert Jan using a very good synth sound. In the intro there were some echo-y drum with those bass sounds. The song was played similar to the album version, with it's tight drumming and airy feel. Rob provided backing vocals. At the Leidsekade Live performance this song started out with some sinister piano lines and a lot of percussion. The bass lines and the synth parts were played on the piano. This very light version was the most jazzy performance of this song ever. A lot of piano weirdness was played by Robert Jan.
This song has always been in the top of my favorite nits songs. I really love this weird tune, although I have no clue what exactly it's about.. Henk explained the song something like this during this tour: 'This song is about disappearing in shining shoeblack on a Sunday', so not much help from Henk either.. The song started out with Rob's brushes drums and Robert Jan on keyboard bass and the main synth theme. In the rest of the song Robert Jan would also use violin and piano sounds. The first part was similar to the album version, but from the 'bell glass' part it gets a little bit different. In this part Rob's brushes and Robert Jan's piano accompany Henk's vocals. After this part the bass got very strong and was a little bit different from the album version. Robert Jan also triggered some samples, the whooaah sound, bells and even scratching sounds. Henk sang the final lyrics and after a couple of wheeehs the song ends with a final whaaooosh. The Leidsekade Live performance followed the same lines as the normal version, but all the synth parts were played just on piano and Henk played guitar. This performance was a very cool unusual version. The 'bell glass' part was done on the guitar and of course there were no sound effects or samples.
At the Nyon concert between songs the band started to improvise this short intermezzo for a few seconds. It was drums, guitar and the radio shoes kettle sound. It was too short to be anything special.
This tour deviated from the normal live version they played from 1987 to 1996. The first verse and chorus was just Henk with his guitar, with the rest of the band joining in in full force directly after that. From then on it was again similar to the version that can be heard on Urk. This tour also featured, for the first time I believe, the extended mountains-mountains-..-buildings ending, with Robert Jan playing the sample and the rest of the band following him close with a hit on the drum or guitar. Sometimes it could become very unpredictable and a lot of fun was had by the audience and the band. After 3 times the building sample the band would finally stop.
The song had a keyboard and harmonica intro, sounding somewhat like Ennio Morricone's 'Once upon a time in the west' theme. The melody was played with a guitarlike sound on the keyboard and the drumming was strong. The harmonica was played throughout most of the song.
The song started out with a fast sample-heavy part that also had some synth drums. The happy sounding melody of this part suddenly changed drastically to slow dramatic chords on the organ and orchestral synth sounds, when Henk entered in his King of Belgium outfit (see photo and description above). Henk sang the song from the top of the tower. As on the studio version the happy and sad parts alternate regularly, but the happy part had a lot more samples than the original.
This song segued out of 'torni' with some tubular bell sounds. It sounded strong live with the bubble bass taking a dominant role among the organ driven groove. The song had the same stop and go part that's also on the album version.
This was played at the Haarlem concert as a request. It was a beautiful version with just piano and vocals. Rob only joined in for some backing vocals near the end of the song. This could be the final ever version so far of this great song, since I haven't heard about a more recent version.
A live version of this song from this tour was released on the broken wing cd single. And as can be heard on that single, it sounded very much like the album version. This was no bad thing though, because the album version is very layered and it's almost incredible how Robert Jan managed to do it. Besides the bass line and the main melody played on piano he would also play some sound effects (mainly vocal aaah's) and a violin sound in the 'sometimes she cried' parts. Sometimes there were 4 or 5 sounds at the same time. The vocal performance by Henk was just as powerful as the instrumental backing by Rob and Robert Jan. The second half of the song was played louder than the first. The song ended with a tick-tock percussion ending, followed by a final aaah.
This wasn't a spectacular version of this nits classic. It was played in the normal arrangement with the acoustic guitar ending. Robert Jan did the bass lines on the piano in between the many little high notes.
This song was usually preceded by Henk telling what the song is about. The story he told was that it's about a fan who searches for his or her idol. He tells about Wagner meeting Beethoven and speaking to him for 2 minutes, a girl who's looking for George Michael, but can't reach him. Then he tells how he and his Finnish friend Seppo traveled to the island Hydra near Athens to meet Leonard Cohen. They reached his house, but he wasn't home. Henk then sometimes said that when one can't meet their idol only the trip remains. The sng itself was played close to the album version, with sparse percussion by Rob and Robert Jan again playing multiple sounds at the same time. This time it was keyboard bass, piano, an orchestra sound, a harp sound and a flute sound. In the instrumental part the melody was played by piano over the orchestra backing. In a concert in Finland Seppo guested on stage to perform this song. I have no more info on this, but I guess they performed the yöpöllö version.
This classic Beatles song from the Revolver album was played during the encores at most shows. A version of this song from this tour can be found on the Beatles cover cd that came as a bonus single with the broken wing cd-single. The song was played fully and rather faithful to the original. Henk played the guitar and Robert Jan provided some Indian sounding parts. Later in the song he also played piano. Very little percussion was played by Rob.
This song by Rein de Vries was played at the Groningen concert.
The most spectacular song of this tour. Henk played acoustic guitar and sang the vocals. This isn't very special, but Robert Jan and Rob played other instruments they normally play. Rob played the electric bass and Robert Jan went crazy on an electric guitar. All three band members would stand next to each other on the front of the stage. Rob's bass playing was good and Robert Jan only made a lot of noise throughout the song in a Jimi Hendrix style. Halfway the song Henk and Rob would stop and Robert Jan got the change to go out of his mindd solo, which he did of course! Henk and Rob would rejoin him again to wrap up the song. This song only is a reason to find a tape of this tour.
This song was usually introduced as: 'the next song is the last song', which usually made the audience show that they wanted more! The song itself is one of those weird songs that are typical of the GND album. The drums were a combination of drum computers and live drumming. The bass was more like a a strange echo-y low sample. The whistle-y kettle sound that is all over the album version entered after the first verse and was played regularly throughout the song. Robert Jan would also play some piano touches at appropriate parts in the song. A violin sound accompanied the 'little red roses' part, while both Robert Jan and Rob also made up the backing choir. The song was played very fast and in the long instrumental ending a very cool rhythm guitar part was played by Henk, while Robert Jan went crazy with the kettle sounds. On the album the song fades out, but in the live version after the instrumental ending there's one last 'now we can look for the radio shoes' that wraps the whole thing up.
At the open air festival in St. Gallen during 'sketches of spain' there was a lightning stroke and the concert was interrupted. She belongs to me by Bob Dylan was played as an intermezzo for about a minute and then sketches of spain continued.
This was performed at the Haarlem show as the final encore. It wasn't broadcasted on the radio, while the rest of the concert was. Luckily the original full radio recording surfaced with this encore and without the dj talking through torni. This song was a great show closer, because it's up tempo sound and the lyrics. I wonder why this never played as the last song at other tours where it was played, usually it was close to the beginning of the show. Rob provided fast, but not loud percussion. The keyboard bass this time was the driving force behind the song. Robert Jan also played a loud synth sound that returned often throughout the song and an organ sound. Henk played guitar during this song.
Henk played the famous bass line for this song on a real bass guitar, which he continued playing while he was singing. The intro was mainly Henk's bass with Rob's drums, but Robert Jan interjected also some sounds. Robert Jan mainly played piano during the song, but also in several part he used a slow orchestra sound. Both Rob and Robert Jan did backing vocals. In the instrumental part the drumming was stronger and Robert Jan played a dramatic piano riff. This wasn't the best version of sketches ever, this song really needed some more instruments. At the Leidsekade Live performance this was the only non-GND song that was performed. As with the other songs of this radio show it was reworked for just piano, percussion, guitar and vocals. There was no bass line in this version! The intro was just piano and percussion and the first small instrumental part sounded rather exciting in this arrangement. The second, larger instrumental part wasn't very special. Throughout the song at some parts Henk provided some guitar.
Before this song Henk would usually explain what the song is about, but that was so weird the audience often laughed while Henk talked. It has something to do with cribs nibbling on your toes or something like that.. The song was played in the up tempo version, similar to the album version. I think it's a great song and although I prefer the next tour's version more with the real bass and extra percussion, this tour's version is certainly also powerful. On the album Robert Jan sings the 'when I touch her knee' part, but in the live version Henk did it, probably because Robert Jan was too busy with all the synth things going on. In the 'suger-water' samples part there was a heavy beat and a lot of sound effects. In the end of the song water sounds were triggered from the synth.
The intro was only keyboards, no other instruments. The drums came into the song rather late. The drumming was very soft and Rob used brushes to get that jazzy feel. He also provided backing vocals. Robert Jan provided keyboard bass and the main melody with a brasslike sound. In the instrumental part Rob's drumming gets somewhat louder, while Robert Jan uses some 'Hawaii'-sounds. This was another one of those songs were it seems like Robert Jan has an extra arm to play 3 sounds at the same time! At the Leidsekade Live show this song was played in the stripped down version.
This instrumental ballet music was written for the two towers. They
could perform their dance to this tune. It was released as a free cd single that was given
away with the giant normal dwarf album in some shops in Holland. The original song is a
slow instrumental that is about 10 minutes long and consists of several movements. In the
live version only a few of these movements were played by Robert Jan and Rob. The parts
that they played sounded pretty similar to the studio version. The dance of the two towers
can be partly seen in the 'long forgotten story' video that can be found on quest. At the
end of the live version the song segued into long forgotten story via some tubular bell
sounds. The length of the song ranged from 3 to 61/2 minutes.
Ari Niemi provided me with the following extra info about this song:
'I saw Nits in Helsinki, and they also had of course those two towers on stage. But here the towers were called Torni #1 and Torni #2 because they had a good time in Hotel Torni (the Finnish word torni means tower). In the heart of the city of Helsinki there is a hotel called Torni and I think Nits stayed at Hotel Torni during GND tour and maybe also on other visits to Helsinki. At least it has stayed in Henk's mind because he is singing about Helsinki blues "One night we went walking from the Torni hotel to the Kosmos restaurant..." in 'Soul Man' on Alankomaat.'
I (Dennis) would like to add to this:
During the Alankomaat Tour in the part that's called 'Tower of song' and during the train the top of the torni hotel is featured on the video screens. The name of the hotel is clearly readable and you can see the flags on top waving.
The intro was played with percussion and guitar. Henk would play small parts of Simon & Garfunkel's the boxer and a song that might be named dandy over the intro to prove they played live. The first part of the song, up to the train noise was played similar to the album version, but with very sparse keyboard bass. After the train came to a halt the song continued for the long version. At the Haarlem concert Henk's guitar was distorted so that it had a lot of echo. This sounded very cool, nut it apparently wasn't done like this all the time. Earlier in the tour in Berlin this didn't happen.
A live version of this song from this tour was released on the broken wing cd-single. Henk did the first part solo with his acoustic guitar and vocals. After a few minute the drums and keyboard joined in. Without the bass this song became even more airy than it already was, making it sound fragile, but not weak. In the instrumental parts there were some piano solos and Henk played the beat guitar and other guitar sounds. Robert Jan also used choir and organ sounds during the song. Rob's drumming was very tight, as usual.
During a concert in Finland Seppo joined the band on stage for a
performance of night owl. I have no more info about this, but I guess they performed the
yöpöllö version of the song. The studio version of this song is Seppo reciting the
finnish translation of night owl over the actual song. It was released on the long
forgotten story cd single and a few years later on quest.
Ari Niemi helped me out with this one:
'If my memory don't fail me, the version of 'Night Owl' was very much like 'Yopollo' on Quest: Seppo "singing" Finnish translation of the lyrics above Henk singing in English.'
This song was played at the Berlin concert as an encore. The song sounds very familiar to me, but I can't remember the original version of it. Is it a Beatles song? The song was very much guitar based. The melody was played on the piano and there were different tempos and intensities during this song.