Hat (Urk) Tour (1988-1989)


first published: 30-10-98 / last update: 26-10-04

Overview

This was one of the most important tours of the Nits' career. They were still riding the waves of the In the Dutch mountains success so the audiences were big and often new to the band. After performing for a year in music clubs they decided to go to the theater. With this move they managed to reach not only their old and more recent fans, but also the theater going public of the Netherlands. This public usually doesn't like going to dark, loud and 'dirty' music clubs and most of the time is a little bit older than the average pop-music fan. The fan-base grew even more through this move and they still perform mostly in theaters in the Netherlands. Abroad they performed mostly still in the music clubs or halls. And abroad they went this time, visiting many unusual countries and places to perform besides the common ones. The following countries were all visited during this tour: the Netherlands, Belgium, West-Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Finland, Sweden, Greece, USSR, USA.
Especially the Russia concerts in Moscow were very unique. They were the first Dutch band to play there and although the audience was completely unfamiliar with the music, the theater was sold out a couple of nights and the band had great success. Walter Schäppi told me the following about the Moscow concerts:

'The story as it was told to me a few years ago: They were a band from Finland! Why that?? USSR and Finland had a special relationship (before the fall of the iron curtain). There was a certain cultural exchange between the two countries. As we all know, the band has some friends in Finland. Somehow they succeeded to place the Nits in a Finnish package of bands. In the first rows were the inevitable holders of free tickets given to them by the party. But the concerts were a success!'

The tour lasted from September 1988 until the summer 1989. It was extended to December after the Urk album was released. Since there were many changes in the setlist I decided to treat this as a different tour and it has its own page. The Hat Tour is also the best documented tour of the Nits, with a double live album, a live video and a few cd-singles with some other live-tracks. Because the band was pretty hot in the media at the time there also were a lot of radio and tv performances. The VARA poppodium performance must be mentioned as a unique and incredible performance. On Valentine's day 1989 the band played for about 50 minutes live at this radio show. They played a lot of rare songs or rare versions of more common songs. Not one song sounded the same as normal. Also were there some guests in the studio. The most interesting one was Michiel Peters, who had left the band in 1985. This reunion resulted in a handful of songs from his solo album 'the infant king', that was just released. The other guests are listed below in the band section. In the song list I will give a description of the differences in the arrangement if a song was played at this radio show.

Band

This was the last tour with Joke, she had been in the band since 1986. Because of a muscle disease she couldn't play with the band anymore. After this tour the band played as a trio for a while. Several guests joined the band onstage during a few performances. The band adapted their clothing for the theatre: they all wore a white short and black pants.

Henk Hofstede: lead vocals, guitar, banjo, harmonica, big drum
Robert Jan Stips: keyboards, accordion, harmonica, vocals, marimba?
Rob Kloet: drums, stage percussion, pots & pans, backing vocals
Joke Geraets: electric and standing bass, backing vocals, percussion, steering wheel

Guests for the VARA Poppodium radio performance:
Michiel Peters: acoustic guitar, lead vocals
Joost Belafonte: trombone, violin
Jaap van Beusekom: pedal steel guitar, dobro
Lieve Geuens: very high vocals

Amsterdam Sax Quartet:
Rob Hauser: saxophone
André Hemmers: saxophone
Bart Kok: saxophone
Henk van Twillert: saxophone

Claw Boys Claw:
Peter te Bos: vocals
John Cameron : guitar
Bobbie Rossini: bass guitar
Marius Schrader: drums

Stage

The stage backdrop for this tour was not only incredibly effective it also was a relatively simple idea. The stage backdrop consisted of 32 white square plates in a grid. The squares could be turned or removed to form patterns on the grid. Also by clever lighting some great effects could be achieved. One crew member had to turn over the squares during and in between the songs, he must have been real tired after each show.. During a touch of Henry Moore Rob played with his sticks on the squares, using them as a percussion instrument. In an eating house the squares had been removed to show a car shape. Rob, Robert Jan and Joke would go behind it and pretend to ride the car. Joke even had a huge steering wheel. For the encores the squares were replaced with other ones: paintings of clocks and swirly things by Henk. For some songs I have made schematic drawings of the line-up of the squares. They are not completely accurate, but good enough to give an idea of what it looked like.

This picture and other pictures can be found in the Urk cd booklet. If you don't have that album: get it ASAP, it's one of the best Nits albums and it captures the feeling of a Nits concert very well. If you have the Urk video you can also see some cool stage effects. I haven't seen this tour personally, but I will describe for the songs on the video what the squares looked like for those songs.

Songs

This tour was a very interesting tour with the song choices of the band. Of course most songs came from the most recent Hat, In the dutch mountains and even Henk albums and some of the older hits. But they also dug deeper into their back catalog, playing songs that they never or only very rarely played before. Also some never before released and covr songs were played. Most of the songs were played in a more quiet and subtle way than before. Also their song choices tended to be on the softer side of their releases. There were plenty of high energy and wild songs though! The playing was excellent with the band operating as a tight unit. A lot of fun was radiated from the stage and this also showed very much in the music.

This tour marked the end of several Nits classics, but also introduced some new ones!

Overview of all the (known) songs played:

A Capella Intermezzo

At the Heerlen concert in the middle of the requests part Robert Jan and Henk started a litlle a capella intermezzo. Robert Jan did some low vocals and even made trumpet sounds with his mouth. Henk did some higher vocals. It was just a few seconds long

Acres Of Tintoretto

This isn't on Urk, but it was played as the first song at the special Poppodium radio performance. I guess it was played at some regular concerts also. This version was maybe even more jazzy than the original Kilo version. Joke played standing bass and Robert Jan only used his piano. Rob's percussion also contributed to the jazzy atmosphere. Henk's singing was excellent and Robert Jan provided some harmonies in the last chorus. Towards the end the song gradually slowed down a little bit and segued into the dream. 

Adieu, Sweet Bahnhof

This can be found on both the Urk album and video. It was also the first single of Urk and it actually showed some chart action in the Netherlands. Whereas 5 years before it had comletely flopped as a single the dutch record buyers were now ready for it! The squares on the stage were blue with red lines going across them. Joke played standing bass. This fluent waltz-like song was almost always played exactly as on Urk with the great organ melodies by Robert Jan and the stop and go ending. At the Weert concert the song started slightly different. An audience member for some reason started to whistle a tune just before the song for some reason. It actually was quite intrusive and irritating, but Robert Jan made everything all-right by picking up this tune on the organ and slowly transforming it to the adieu melody. I find it quite funny that they chose not to use the Urk video version as the music video for this song. Instead they made a completely new video in which they are lipsynching to the live version! For the second single (home before dark) they did the same thing.

Along The Way

This is a song from Michiel's solo album Infant King. It was played at the Poppodium radio performance with Michiel on lead vocals and acoustic guitar. The lyrics of this slow and melancholic song reflect the feeling Michiel had in the last few years with the Nits. The main lines in the song are: 'the innocence we had is gone / the innocence we left at stops along the way'. Henk provided backing vocals. Robert Jan was almost not present during this performance. His absence was made up by two other special guests. Jaap van Beusekom played his pedal steel guitar throughout the song and even had a nice solo. Joost Belafonte provided violin. During the intro he made some weird sounds on it, but later on in the song his playing foreshadowed the presence of Peter Meuris' violin a couple of years later. The song ended, as on the album, with Michiel singing the last line: 'we've been going for far too long'.

La Bamba

This classic 50s song was covered as a request at the Lelystad concert. The original was written and performed by Ritchie Valens and covered numerous times by a wide range of artists. The Nits' version wasn't very long, but the whole band participated. It actualy did sound quite good. The lyrics were of course a problem. Henk could do the la Bamba words fine, but the rest of them were mostly some fake spanish shoutings and mumblings. The ending of the song was very much slowed down, almost sounding like the Nits' own song the train.

The Bauhaus Chair

The live version of this beautiful song can be found on the Urk album. The song is about a girl who comes to visit her old boyfriend she lived with. But she didn't come to see the boyfriend but to take her old chair. The song is much older than 1988. A version from around 1980 circulates among traders and it might even be older than that! This tour's version was played exactly the same as the Hat album version. Robert Jan played beautiful piano and organ in this song. This song was always played in the same way, except at the Poppodium performance. Here the lead vocals were done by Michiel. The song is also on his solo album in a different arrangement. The live version was a cross between the Hat and the Infant king version. Besides lead vocals Michiel also played acoustic guitar. In the last verse there was some laughter but I don't know what happened then. The second instrumental part of the song also sounded different, because of Michiel's guitar and Rob suddenly started to play very loud on his drums.

A Bauhaus Chair: The Barcelona model, designed by Ludwig Mies von der Rohe (1929)

Another Bauhaus Chair: The Tugendhat Chair, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1930)

'Bee Gees'

At the Lelystad concert Henk suddenly started saying some stuff about the Bee gees in before in the dutch mountains. After this he started playing a few lines of a bee gees song on his guitar and he sang the following lyrics in a semi-high voice: 'in the event of something happening to me / there is something I will like you all to see'. I don't know which bee gees song this comes from, since I'm not a bee gees expert (far from that actually...). Henk had some vocal problems during this concert and after he managed to sing these 2 lines he stopped and Robert Jan said to the audience: 'Henk Hofstede: the singer with the broken voice'. At the Amsterdam 25-11-88 this also happened. He sang the same two lines, but now with a keyboard backing. After this he stopped again, but after a while he sang some more almost unintelligible lines. The only things I can understand is a few times 'in Massachusetts', again backed by keyboard music. He used a weird voice for all of this. According to Walter Schäppi's Nits Overview these songs were also played at various other concerts.

Emlyn (from Ireland) helped me out with these song:

"In the event of something happening to me,there is something i would like you all to see". This song is "the New York Mining Disaster, 1941".I think it was recorded in the late 60's. The other song is "Massachusettes", with the famous line "and the lights all went out in Massachusettes....", this song is also from the 60's. Both of these songs are very Beatlesy sounding and I can see how the nits would like them.

Bike In Head

The only version from this tour I have is the one that was released on the Urk album. I would have thought that this Nits classic was played more often during this tour, but apparently it wasn't a regular song or I've jsut found tapes of concerts that do not have this song... It was played similar to the original Henk album version, with the bike bells, the distorted bike in head vocal sample and other weirdness in the intro. From the chaotic intro the song moved to the more structured part of the song and the breakdown was played as always.

Blue

This is one of the two Hat songs that didn't end up on the Urk album. It was played similar to the original album version in a loose and open way. Robert Jan played the accordion and he provided a little variation in the instrumental parts by slightly deviating from the original melodies.

Cabins

This was played exactly the same way every time and it is documented on the Urk album and on the Urk video. It is an almost exact copy of the live version they released as a b-side on the original cabins single. Henk started out the song solo on his guitar. After this the band entered and played the song through. The classical ending of the song was followed by a reprise of a few bars for a couple of seconds. It was usually played as the first song of the encores and half of the squares had all been changed to paintings of clocks and the other half by paintings of swirly things. These colorful paintings were all done by Henk himself. For those of you who didn't see a concert from this tour (like me) and don't have the video (unlike me!) can see a picture of this in the Urk cd booklet (if you do have that one that is). For those of you deprived of all things concerning Urk I also have made a little sketch.

Dapperstreet

I believe this wasn't played that often, but luckily it can be found on the Urk album. The song is based on the poem 'Domweg gelukkig in de Dapperstraat' by dutch poet J.C. Bloem. The introspective song was played beautifully by this band. The bass was very prominent throughout the song, starting from the intro. Robert Jan used piano, vibes and orchestral sounds and near the end also a trombone sound was used by him. The whole band provided backing vocals.

J.C. Bloem (1887-1966)

Dracula

This song was one of the weirdest moments of the tour. At the requests at Lelystad someone asked for a claw boys claw song. Claw boys claw is a dutch rock band, with an impressive singer (Peter te Bos) who has a very low voice. They always sing in english, but apparently recorded this dutch song once. The theme of the lyrics is all kinds of horror stuff. The band all played on this song, which they seemed to know rather well. Henk's low lead vocals and guitar were pretty good. The backing vocals were sung in a very funny high voice. After 1 minute and 23 seconds this short song is over way too soon! On the 1998 album Rapsodia by Freek de Jonge with Stips they play a longer and somewhat different version of this song, which is very interesting to hear.

The Dream

This song was played as on Hat, as can be checked on the Urk album and video. It usually was the opening song of the concert, except for the end of the tour when 'jardin d'hiver' started the concerts and 'the dream' was moved to somewhere in the middle. The stage backdrop squares weren't yet used during this song. The lyrics deal with a dream Henk once had and the images he then saw some time later in real life. It was played always in the same way from 1988 until 1996, but at the Poppodium radio performance they did a unique version of it. Guest musician Joost Belafonte played trombone over the extended intro and over the outro. He did this in a mexican style, so the song sounded almost like one of those mexican mariachi versions. In this performance Robert Jan also took much more liberties with the melodies than he normally would do, making the body of the song sound much more jazzy. At the VARA radio performance on november 3rd 1988 the song was played in a medley with the train.

a block of mica

An Eating House

This song can be found on both the Urk album and video. This was one of the most visual songs of the tour. Some of the squares had been removed, the hole was in the shape of a car (also see the Urk booklet to see this). Henk would stand in front of it with his guitar, while the rest of the band was in the car. Robert Jan played accordion, Rob played pots and pans and Joke didn't play anything, but held a very big steering wheel. Henk also had a foot pedal with which he could play the big drum that was standing behind him. Before the song he would usually tell the strange story of the song. For the chorus the rest of the band provided backing vocals using childish sounding voices. Henk's vocals during the 'hungry' parts were distorted to make them scary. The Breda performance was rather strange with a lot of fooling around.

Football Blues

This was played at the Brussels concerts and probably also at other shows. My Brussels tape is incomplete, so I don't know exactly where in the concert this was played, but I guess it was played before or after J.O.S. days. The song itself is a standard blues with piano, bass and drums as the musical accompaniment to Henk's half singing/half talking and semi-improvised vocals. At the Giant Normal Dwarf Tour a different version of this song was played. The lyrics of the second Brussels concert's version are as follows:

I didn't like sport
I couldn't play like all those boys
Oh, that's pretty hard when you're a small boy in a big town
I couldn't have those muscles baby
I didn't know what to do when I saw this ball
I've got the football blues every day of my life
Baby I just heard it all

For No-One

This is a cover of a Beatles song. It was played in Lelystad as a request. Someone actually requested the song Help, but Henk thought that was too hard, so he said they would play a song from the Help album. After Henk thought of this song he realized it isn't on the Help album (it can be found on Revolver) he admitted his mistake, but that this song is also okay. Henk started playing his guitar and singing the lyrics, Rob added percussion and Robert Jan played some cool piano parts that fitted right in with the original version. A very nice version, only too short (just under a minute and a half).

Good Night

At the Heerlen concert this was played. Henk had the flu around that concert and especially in the last few songs his voice was quickly disappearing. He apologizes to the audience that they can't play any longer and after this they play this song as the last one of the evening. Luckily the Heerlen concert circulates in excellent soundboard quality and this performance can be included in this page. The song was started with some very soft guitar playing, after Henk sang the first 'good night'. The rest of the band soon started singing this too, while Henk went on to siong the lyrics. The soft guitar was continued throughout and even joined by Robert Jan's accordion for most of the song. The harmonies sounded very nice, but before the song was even 2 miutes old it already ended.

The Hat

This is one of the two songs that's on the Hat album but not on the Urk album. Unlike the other song (Blue) this was released in a live version though. It can be found on the Urk video. The song was usually preceded by an explanation by Henk. It is about a girl who went into a hat shop to buy a brown hat with a feather. Although this isn't an interesting story, the song itself is quite exciting. It was played similar to the free form music that is on Hat, but with an extra part at the end, but I'll come back to that later. On the video it can be seen that the squares on the stage have been turned to show a big hat-shaped pattern. Towards the end of the song some of the squares are turned, resulting in no particular image at all. Henk played harmonica on this song, especially noticeable in the long instrumental intro. This intro started out with percussion and ambient keyboard sounds. The piano and bass soon enter and so does the harmonica. The song itself is done in the same talk/singing fashion that's on the Hat album, resulting in a very atmospheric song. Henk's harmonica returned at various points in the instrumental parts of the song. As mentioned the song was stretched to over 6 minutes due to an extra part that is played from the 'I open the door and look inside' lyrics, where the album version ends. In the live version the music and lyrics continued to more or less reveal what Henk actually sees when he looks inside:

I open the door and look inside
Now your face looks hidden by the light
Behind a window curtain
You're still, you're still there

The music remained more or less similar, but with some added keyboard trumpet parts. This extra section is based on  themes from Gershwin's 1928 composition 'An American In Paris'. These quotes are pretty literal and this is probably the reason why it was left of the album. At some concerts the song was even dedicated to Gershwin. The last few seconds of the song were dominated by the harmonica.

Home Before Dark

This was the second single from the Urk album, but unlike Adieu it didn't do anything on the charts. This song was never a hit, but it turned into a nits classic nonetheless and is still played by the Nits in 1998. It was played in the new arrangement with accordion instead of keyboards. I always liked this arrangement better, because it creates a very intimite atmosphere instead of the more airy original version (which isn't too bad itself!). Joke provided backing vocals for this song.

The House

This song is about a foreign vacation house in which wallpaper looks like the landscape. It had one major difference from the original version that can be found on Hat. Instead of Henk, Robert Jan sang the lead vocals as can be heard on Urk. Henk only provided backing vocals in the chorus. It is almost a solo performance by Robert Jan. He played an accordion sound, a bell sound and piano on the keyboards, sometimes simultaneously. This was one of the most quiet and subtle, but also one of the most impressive songs from this tour.

In A Play (Das Mädchen Im Pelz)

This was played at the Poppodium radio performance. It was played similar to the original album version, including the pedal steel guitar, played by Jaap van Beusekom. Robert Jan started out the song on piano, while Joke provided standing bass, making it a very jazzy song. In the instrumental part Robert Jan also used an organ sound. The pedal steel guitar was very prominent throughout the song, until near the end a string broke and it completely stopped. 

The Infant king

This song cannot only be found on the Adieu Sweet Bahnhof album, but it is also the title track of Michiel's solo album. It was therefore played at the Poppodium radio performance with Michiel on lead vocals and guitar. The song was played similar to the two versions mentioned before. Henk also provided guitar on this beautiful song. Michiel used some echo on his voice. Joost Belafonte played a long trombone solo about three quarters into the song and after this the guitars returned to wrap the rest of the song up. Train noises ended the song and segued it into the train.

In The Dutch Mountains

This song was the reason a lot of spectators came to see the show. It was almost always played as on the Urk album in the slightly faster and more powerful version than the original album version.
For the Poppodium performance it was played the same except in the 'lost a button..' part Lieve Geuens did the 'oh-aa-ah' vocals instead of the usual sample.
A real different version was released on the adieu 4-track cd-single, this version is the same recording as the one in the Urk video. For this performance in Amsterdam the Amsterdam Saxophone Quartet guested on stage for two songs. The four sax playing men of the quartet played a new intro to the song and then let the Nits take over. The band played an acoustic version of the song with accordion, percussion, guitar and bass. The saxophone quartet provided a few touches here and there, especially in the 'lost a button..' part. A new and very nice saxophone interlude was also added to the song. On the video it is apparent that the band had a lot of fun on stage during this performance. For the end the mountains and buildings samples were replaced by live shouting of those words. The squares were removed during this performance.
Another very different version was played when the band guested on stage with Dutch rock band Claw Boys Claw (see also the Dracula entry). All four Nits members went onstage with Claw Boys Claw, who had recorded a cover version of 'in the dutch mountains' on one of their albums. Claw Boys Claw  is a loud guitar band, so this version was incredibly wild and loud with a lot of electric guitars. Rob provided some extra percussion, Joke played extra bass, Robert Jan played the accordion and Henk shared the lead vocals with Peter te Bos. This version sounded great and completely different from the Nits' original version. The best part was Henk trying to match the intensity of Peter te Bos' singing. He didn't quite succeed, but it sounded interesting anyway.

In The Night

Another song from Michiel Peter's solo album that was performed at the Poppodium radioshow. The song is a somewhat bluesy, midtempo and acoustic tune and was performed not too different from the original. Michiel again took lead vocals and guitar on this song. Robert Jan's almost complete absence during this song was made up by Joost Belafonte's violin and Jaap van Beusekom's dobro. In the ending of the song Joost Belafonte played a solo.

Intermezzo

At many concerts the Nits would play silly little intermezzos in between songs. Usually they didn't last for more than a few seconds to half a minute, but often they are pretty funny. A good example of a concert with many intermezzos is the Brussels 13-04-00 concert.

J.O.S. Days

This can be found on the Urk cd, but although it was a hit a year before it isn't on the video. Before the song started Henk would often explain the lyrics. The intro was just guitar and vocals. After this Henk made sounds like 'ch-ch'ch-ch'ch' and the rest of the band entered the song. The main melody was played on the keyboard. The harmonica was also used a lot in this song, more towards the end of the tour than in the beginning though. It was played by Robert Jan, who apparently still had a free hand to hold it.. At the end of the song Henk played it instead of Robert Jan. Joke provided backing vocals. It was played always the same way exept at the Poppodium performance. There Henk spoke the first verse over a guitar and harmonica backing. After the ch-ch-ch part the version was similar, exept that Lieve Geuens also provided some backing vocals and Robert Jan played the melodies more freely. In the end Henk also made some extra weird noises.

Letkis

In the Brussels port of amsterdam performance Robert Jan started playing this old song from the 60s. Rob soon joined and they both played it for half a minute. It actually sounded very cool! After this Henk said 'sorry!' and the band continued with more weird stuff in the 'port of amsterdam' intro. Suonna told me that this was originally done by a Finnish artist called Rauno Lehtinen.

Magic Of Lassie II

In the first weeks of the tour this song was part of the setlists. It was played in the same arrangement as during the In The Dutch Mountains Tour. After a couple of weeks this song was apparently dropped and to my knowledge not played again.

Mannish Boy

This song was played at the Heerlen concert. It's probably one of the best known blues-rock songs. It was made most famous by Muddy Waters somewhere in the 50s. At this concert the audience requests were pretty silly, unfortunately they are inaudible on the soundboard tape, but the band can be heard lauging and joking around. After someone must have called out Muddy Waters Henk said some lines that could belong to the mannish boy song:

I'm a man
when I make love to a woman
she can't resist
YEAH!

This was all of it, lating just a couple of seconds. Robert Jan and Henk fooled around even more after this, especially when someone shouted out the name 'Henk Wijngaard', who is a very bad dutch singer. They even mentioned his hits 'de bruidsjurk' and 'met de vlam in de pijp', which they luckily didn't play!

Mask

Another great moment in the tour occurred in Amsterdam. As with 'in the Dutch mountains' the Amsterdam Sax Quartet played on this song. The result was a version that is so much better than the original it's almost a different song! Luckily it was recorded and put on Urk for all of us to enjoy (In 1995 this version was also put on the greatest hits album Nest). It also can be found on the Urk video. The intro to the song was a beautiful arranged melody, played by the Amsterdam Sax Quartet. The body of the song was mostly just piano and vocals with sax touches and melodies. After the song ended there was a pause for about 30 seconds with a lot of audience noise. The band then continued to play it for about another minute and a half. On the Urk video it can be seen that the sax quartet played the song from sheet music. The squares had been removed for this song. The song was played without the Amsterdam Saxophone quartet as well. It usually was one of the encores and was the piano-only version. Robert Jan inserted a loud synth break near the end where in the Urk version a saxophone breakdown is present. I find this synth bit a bit intrusive and not fitting with the subtle atmosphere of the song. After this the song returned with Rob playing tamborine and singing backing vocals.

Massachuttes

See the 'bee gees' entry.

Moon and stars

This is the last song on the 'in the dutch mountains' album and I always felt like it was tagged on at the end. It seemed like it didn't really belong on the album. I think it fitted much more on Hat or the Urk album (although it actually didn't end up on it). This song is very subtle, so it fitted right along with the rest of the setlists. The song was only played in the first weeks of the tour, after this it was apparently dropped.  It started out just by Rob who played an extended drum solo, but after a while the melody, an organ sound played by Robert Jan, was started. He also used some bell sounds. After some time the guitar also started to play the melody and Joke also joined the rest on bass. Horn sounds can also be heard in the song. It was played similar to the original album version. Halfway through the song the band stopped playing only a small bell is played, almost immediately joined by a synth sound. This provided a nice little break and deviation from the album version. After a while the whole band returned and played the song to the end.

Mountain Jan

This song from in the dutch mountains can also be found on the Urk album. The song is about a boy who was very bad at gymnastics in school, but he turned out to be an excellent physicist. Because of his scintific achievements he gets a mountain named after him in Antarctica. When he decides to visit the mountain he is never seen again. At least that's what Henk told often before the song was played. The Nits seem to be fascinated by people suddenly disappearing (for instance the characters in typist of candy and frozen fred also 'melt' away). The song itself was played similar to the original studio version, but with an added toy-whistle sound played by Henk. He played it in the exciting, instrumental fast parts. In these parts the tempo increased to a climax and then returned to the slow and dramatic vocal sections. Joke provided backing vocals during this song.

Nescio

The familiar long violin sound opened this version of the song. Henk pushed a button on Robert Jan's synth to start this, because the rest of the band had to come back from the back of the stage where they were for 'an eting house'. Instead of continuing with the percussion and bass the piano started playing various melodies over it. Henk started singing a few of the lyrics of the 'I jumped of a bridge..' part of the song very slow. After about a minute the familiar nescio started and was played all the way through, including the fast ending. This version can be found on the Urk cd and video. Unfortunately for the video they edited the slow intro out and started right with the normal the song. Joke played standing bass and provided with Robert Jan the vocals to the 'phone rings on the nightstand' part. The squares this time were alternating black and white vertical lines. In the end flashing colors replaced the black and white theme.

The New York Mining Disaster, 1941

see 'bee gees' entry.

Nights in White Satin

This song was originally released by the Moddy Blues in the 60s. The Nits played it as a request in Brussels. They had played it before at the previous tour, so the whole band knew the song. Henk even remembered the lyrics! Robert Jan played the melody on orchestral and guitar keyboard sounds. Rob played a slow, but loud rhythm on the drums and Joke played the right bass lines. Henk used an echo on his voice and he was particularly in form in the 'I love you' lyrics, in which he seemed to give it all. The instrumental part is a Stipsified version of the original. Robert Jan used a flute and pianolike sound. After this another verse with heavy orchestra backing was played. Suddenly Henk seemed to remember the R.E.M. song the one I love and started singing this song, with the band following his lead. After he is through he and the band returned to nights in white satin for a few more seconds.

Office At Night

To me this song was one of the biggest surprises of the tour. Not because it's so old, but also because Michiel Peters had inportant vocal parts in it. Well, those vocal parts were done by Joke this tour.This is one of Henk's oldest 'art songs'. Go to the Work Tour page to see the painting this song is based on. Echo-y drums started out the song. Robert Jan added some dramatic low piano chords. Henk sang his verses very intense and very loud with echo on his voice. As mentioned, Joke sang the 'as the light falls..' lyrics. The end of the song was very different from the original. Joke stopped singing, Rob started to drum very intense and Robert Jan provided a lot of sound effects, trumpet and piano sounds. All in all a very chaotic ending, which could vary in length. Unfortunately it wasn't released on Urk. The ending also often segued into other songs. In Weert it went into 'cabins', while in Lelystad and Heerlen it segued into 'walter and conny'.

The One I Love

This R.E.M. song from their 1987 Document album was played a few times during this tour. At the Popodium radioshow and in Lelystad it was played in a full version, lasting about 31/2 minutes. The melody was played on guitar and accordion and in Lelystad the song was preceded by a long drum-only intro. The Nits version of this song was different from the original, but still very faithful to it. Joke played some sparse, but effective bass. The 'Fire!' vocals were sung very loud and enthousiastically by Henk. At the Brussels concert this song was played in a much shorter version in a medley with nights in white satin. After that song ended Henk started shouting the 'Fire!' parts and the rest of the band started to play this song with Robert Jan playing the melody with a keyboard guitarsound. This version was much shorter and after it finished the song returned to nights in white satin for a few seconds. According to Walter Schäppi's Nits Overview this was also played as a request in Amsterdam.

Oom-Pah-Pah

This was to my knowledge only played at the Poppodium radioshow. It was sung as a duet with Henk on low vocals and Lieve Geuens on very high vocals. This probably was one of the first times they played it, since it sounded incredibly fragile, almost like they improvised it on the spot. The sparse music started out with slow piano chords and a slow drum rhythm. Henk and Lieve sang the lyrics simultaneously. After a while Henk started to sing so low he can't reach the notes with his voice anymore. After some laughter the song was interrupted by him. Then he asked Robert Jan to give him a C-minor chord. Robert Jan did this and started playing the melody of the song with a keyboard guitar sound. Henk and Lieve were now able to finish the song properly. Although it was not perfect, this still is one of the nicest moment of the tour.

Opzij

This is a famous song in Holland by dutch performer Herman van Veen. The title translates something like: 'Out of the way!' and it's about someone who's in a hurry. The Nits played it during the intro to port of amsterdam in Brussels, where they also played a part of letkiss. This song was played even shorter than that one though, just a few seconds. Henk mentioned the 'opzij, opzij, opzij' lyrics over a very fast percussion backing and that was all.

The Panorama Man

This can be found on Urk. It was played in the new unplugged accordion arrangement. It started out with the guitar and the accordion. Joke's cool bass and Rob's sparse percussion entered soon. The song was played all the way through and as an added bonus they did a 4-part a capella ending of it in which they continued singing for about a minute. Robert Jan's low vocals sounded pretty nice in this part. The audiences loved this ending. At the Lelystad concert a strange ripping sound can be heard on the tape, I don't know what caused this. Also in this version Henk suddenly inserted a line from the song dracula, which they had played a few minutes before. Henk always introduced this song and at the Heerlen performance Robert Jan would already play some musical lines on the accordion while Henk talked. The version in Breda didn't have the accordion, but it was played on th synth, like on the album version. It did have the a capella part at the ending though.

Pelican And Penguin

This is also one song that can be found on Urk. It was played always in the same way, similar to the original in the dutch mountains version. Henk often would explain what the song is about over the intro. Robert jan had a short solo and the end consisted of a weird instrumental part. Robert Jan played around with rooster samples, while Henk would mumble strange sounds over it.

Port Of Amsterdam

In this tour this song finally reached the madness it always had in it. Especially during the intro Robert Jan could improvise his heart out, often resulting in hilarious performances of this song. Unfortunately are the versions on the Urk album and video quite 'normal', with almost no fooling around. Maybe this isn't so bad though, because a joke can become quite tedious when you hear it for the 30th time.. Examples of what could happen during the intro I already described at the opzij and letkiss entries. These happened at the Brussels performance, which is one of the most insane ever. Besides these two songs also other sort of port of amsterdam sounding melodies were played. Stuff like this also happened at other performances. Often after a minute the music would stop after a minute or so with Henk commenting that it is a very short song and that the record company wouldn't like this as a single. After this they continued and played the song all the way through. Robert Jan kept insewrting weird melodies most of the time throughout the song. Henk's voice had distroted echos in the 'goodbye' parts. In the fast parts the band would jump around on a very loud drumbeat by Rob, while Henk banged the big drum. The squares were flashing colors in these parts.

The Potato Eaters

Henk's banjo was onstage for most concerts, but I have no evidence this was played during this tour. I guess it was and it probably sounded exactly as during the previous two and the Urk Tours.

Pretty Woman

At the Lelystad concert someone requests a Roy Orbinson song. The band started to play this classic hit of him. Henk didn't really know the lyrics so it mostly was: 'lalalala, pretty woman'. He also made the growling cat sound ('r-r-r-r-r-ow'). Robert Jan played the melody on piano and he seemed to know it well enough to play it. After about 1 minute and 15 seconds the song came to an end.

Red Tape

This was played as can be heard on Urk. The performance of this song was much looser than the very tight original. It was played with bass, percussion (and handclaps) and harmonica. Later also a keyboard was used. Joke provided backing vocals and Rob did a live kloefonic with his voice (oh-oh-oh. At the Poppodium radioshow this the last song broadcast and it was just about the only song that was played the way it normally was.

Scarborough Fair

This Paul Simon song was played as an intro to Nescio at the Brussel 13-04-89 show. It repleaced the English Nescio lyrics Henk usually sang over the intro. Also in Zürich this happened according to the Walter Schäppi Nits Overview.

Shadow Of A Doubt

This was one of the great choices the Nits did from their back catalog and luckily it ended up on Urk. It was probably never played before this tour. It fitted right in with the rest of the songs with its subtle but full sound. Henk's guitar playing was excellent and more complex than usual in this period. The song was played in a longer version than the original with a small instrumental part and some extra singing.

She Was Naked

At the Heerlen concert someone requested a supersister song. Henk and Robert Jan joked around a bit, but eventually Robert Jan started singing this song, accompanied by piano. Soon th drums and bass entered, as well as some guitar by Henk. Robert Jan shifted a little bit into the song to a flute sound. After the first verse they stop. It lasted just under a minute, but it was very nice.

The Singing Telegram

This song was played at some cocnerts as the last encore. The arrangement was very similar to the previous tour's version. I only have one recording of this song during this tour, but I think it was played more often. 

Sketches Of Spain

This was played every time exactly as it appears on Urk. Joke provided backing vocals and played the electric bass. Henk played around with his whammy bar on the guitar. The instrumental part wasn't as good as in later years, despite Henk's playing the big drum. A good but not very special version of this song. The squares were black with blue edges. In the instrumental part they were made up of flashing colors.

Slip Of The Tongue

This song from 1981 was again revived for this tour and can also be found on Urk. It was a wilder song than most and it was also one of the most fragmented songs. It can be divided in four parts. Part 1 was the vocal section with Robert Jan, Henk and Rob all sharing the lyrics. The music was very bouncy. In the high energy part 2 we got a jazz bass and a keyboard trumpet solo. Joke played Michiel's original guitar solo on the bass.Part 3 brought the song back to full force after a 'beware of a slip of the tongue!'. For part 4 the tempo was brought down to a more bluesy sound. A solo trumpet ended the song. All of this happened in just about 4 minutes!

The Swimmer

To me this song from in the dutch mountains seems to foreshadow the mathematical piano wizardry from cars and cars a few years later. I prefer the version on Urk over the original. Not only because it's longer, but also because of the power this song gained in its short live career. In the vocal parts the instrumentation was just piano and guitar. In the instrumental parts Rob and Joke also concerned themselves with the musical activities on stage. This song with its alternating subtle and louder parts fitted in great with the rest of the repertoire of this tour.

Tables And Chairs

This song, written by Michiel Peters, was performed at the Koog aan de Zaan concert in a short, hectic version.

Telephone Song

The only song on Urk that wasn't released before. Henk claimed during one show it was already written in 1974. This would make this one of the oldest Nits songs around. It always was played almost the same as the version on Urk. The bouncy song with the wild harmonica was the only nits song ever in which Joke took most of the lead vocals. Only in the fast parts Henk was the lead vocalist. Although it is not the greatest Nits song ever, it is still rather enjoyable, also thanks to the strange keyboard lines throughout, especially in the instrumental parts.

Tons Of Ink

This song both ends the Urk album and video. It was played during the encores in the first months of the tour, but was not always present during later concerts. The song started out with a staccato beat with drums, bass and an orchestral sound, while Henk sang the lead vocals. Halfway through the band started playing it more fluently and more closely to the original Omsk version. Joke's bass playing sounded great in this second half. The highlight of the song of course was the sing-along part of the song in which first the band and later the audience got to do a live kloefonic with the 'yo-oh-oh' chants. The audience continued the song after the band had already stopped and crawled off the stage. The 'clocks and swirly things' background was used for this song.

A Touch Of Henry Moore

This song was one of the most spectacular ones visually and musically. It is on the Urk album, but to also appreciate the visual aspects of this song the version on the video has to be seen. The song started out with Rob hitting several of the squares with a mallet. Most of the squares were black, while Rob would only hit the white ones, of which more and more were turned during the song. Joke had a little percussion set on which she played during this song which didn't feature the characteristic bass line this time. Henk also played percussion on the big drum, so the rhythm section was three quarters of the band this time. Robert Jan actually also provided plenty percussive sounds in between other melodies and sound effects. This version didn't feature the chorus, which wasn't played at most tours.

The Train

This was played in two versions during this tour. A short version, as on Urk, which ended after the train noises and a long one that continued the song after this with some extra choruses. Musically this longer part was very similar to the first half before the train noises. The song itself had been around for several years. Among collectors a version from 1984 circulates and on quest a version from 1987 in a medley with oom-pah-pah can be found. The long version was for instance played at the poppodium performance. This version wasn't radically different from the normal one, except that it segued via train noises from the infant king and Lieve Geuens provided one line of backing vocals. At the 03-11-88 VARA radio performance it was played in a medley with the dream.

Two Skaters

This great long song from the in the dutch mountains album can be found on the Urk album and video. It was played very tight, much more than the original version. Rob's drumming was very constant and Joke's electric bass lines circulated around a theme that was always different. Henk's echo-y guitar and Robert Jan's subdued organ and piano playing also added to the excellent musicianship in this atmospheric song. Towards the end Robert Jan also provided some other effects and 'ooh' sounds. The video version shows the intensity of the playing before the blue-lit squares. In the faster instrumental parts a blue and orange V flashed over the squares.

Under A Canoe

This song I only have on Urk in this tour's version. I have no concert tape on which it is present. A sharp 'I' by Henk started this airy song. The version itself was similar to one on the Henk album, including the slow drums, bass notes and choir samples. Those choir samples are Joke's voice layered a lot of times. Joke provided, together with Henk, the vocals to the 'a shirt is waving in the meadows' part. Robert Jan inserted some synth trumpet touches.

Unknown Song

At the Lelystad concert in the middle of the requests part the band started playing some lounge music for about 20 seconds. Henk gnawed some unintelligable lyrics over it. I don't know if this was based on a real song or just spontaneous improvisation. At least is sounds interesting.

Walk On The Wild Side

This Lou Reed song was played in the beginning and the middle of the dream at the Heerlen concert. It consisted of nothing more than 'and the color girls sing: doo-doo-dood-doo'. This does foreshadow the versions of the Alankomaat tour.

Walter And Conny

This song was one of the first ones Robert Jan wrote for the Nits. It was always played similar to the version that can be found on Urk. Joke's surf bass and Rob's fast drums were the foundation to Robet Jan's keyboard melodies. He used marimba sounds, piano and a heavy horn-like sound.

Woman Cactus

This was the last tour for this Nits classic for a while. It was played similar to previous live versions and the album version. It was also used to introduce the band during the intro. This is one song that would have fitted great on Urk, but for some reason it was left off. The tight rhythm section and Robert Jan's bells, samples and other sounds made this a very nice live song. Robert Jan also provided some solos in the instrumental parts. These solos were somehat weirder than earlier versions. Henk had a heavy echo on his voice and he of course also did the high vocals in the designated part.

Yksi Kaksi Kolme

Unlike the previous tours where it was synthesizer-based, this time around it was rearranged for accordion. I have only one recording of this song from early in the tour, so it's pretty rare. It is very short, even shorter than it already normally is. Besides the accordion it features Henk on flute and hey-hey-vocals and Rob on percussion. This version is pretty basic and actually not too interesting, but it's rarity makes up for that.