New Flat Tour (1981)

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first published:14-10-98 / last update: 23-7-99

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Overview

Nothing used to be available from this tour. No audience tapes, no radio or TV performances and no soundboard recordings. But thanks to Tom Telman now there are a few soundboard tapes, straight from the Nits Archives! These tapes are real treasures, because this tour has a very typical sound, different from anything before or after 1981. The tour followed the New Flat album and lasted from January to August 1981. The band mainly played in clubs in the Netherlands, but this time they also did a tour of West-Germany. This German tour and all the Dutch concerts finally let to the departure of Alex at the end of this tour. He was completely fed up with touring.

Band

This is the last tour with the original line-up of the Nits. They had been playing together since 1974. Although Alex did play the bass on the following Work album, he left the band just before the tour that accompanied that album. The Nits wouldn't have a real bas-player for 5 years after this, but Robert Jan Stips came in to do the bass parts on the keyboards and Michiel also played the bass guitar regularly. Henk would usually play most of the songs on keyboards, but at several moments in the show he would switch to electric guitar and play it for a couple of songs before he returned to the keyboards. Roadie Martin Warmer replaced Alex for a few concerts, when Alex had a kidney disease.

Henk Hofstede: keyboards, guitar, vocals, harmonica
Michiel Peters: guitar, vocals
Alex Roelofs: bass guitar, backing vocals, keyboards?
Rob Kloet: drums, backing vocals

Guest:

Martin Warmer: bass

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backside of new flat album cover

Stage

I have no information about the stage setup.

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Songs

All the songs from the New Flat album were played, as well as plenty from the Tent and Nits albums. They also previewed a few new songs that would end up on the Work album. Some unreleased Nits songs and a few covers were also part of the repertoire. Most of the songs were played in their heaviest form ever. A lot of heavily distorted guitars, pounding bass, strong drums and loud keyboards can be heard on the songs. This tour came the closest to a heavy rock or new wave concert the Nits would ever get. This was also probably the most guitar-oriented tour from the early Nits. From the next tour on there would be Robert Jan Stips and his synths, who took a lot of the melodies from the guitar. But this tour it's Michiel all over the place, sometimes together with Henk. I must say I truly enjoy this tour, because it's different and it rocks! But I'm also happy the band decided to shift to more keyboard-oriented stuff, because that made them stand out a lot more from all the standard rock bands and it aided them a lot in developing a unique Nits-sound. Alex's bass was very powerful in most songs and one can't help but wonder how this band would have sounded if he had stayed and Robert Jan never joined.

Overview of all the (known) songs played:

1:30

This song about sleeplessness from the Tent album was played much more heavy than the previous year's live version or the studio version. It featured a heavy synth and guitar melody over the normal drums and bass backing. The vocals were sung simultaneously by Henk and Michiel. Michiel also took some parts of the lyrics alone. A couple of prewritten guitar solos were played and the song ended in a nice power chord.

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4 Ankles

The intro consisted of guitar, snare drum and Henk singing: 'step by step by step by..'.After a while a very heavy bass line and full drums entered. Michiel and Henk both sang the lyrics. In the waltz parts Michiel was more pronounced. These waltz parts alternated with the other parts of the song. This version of the song was rather fast and sounded very busy. Some 'tch-tch" vocals were sung and a nice instrumental part with synth and a guitar solo was played just before the song ended with some more 'tch-tch-tch' vocals.

Aloha Drums

This song was the opening song of the concerts. It started with some spooky, sweeping and long synth sounds. After a while the bass and the drums entered. The last one to start playing was Michiel, but when he did he was all over the song. He played the Hawaiian sounds beautifully with a high clear sound. This version was quite similar to the album version and was more quiet than most of the other songs.

A to B; C to D

This song from the Tent album started out with bass, guitar and drums. After some time the synth entered and the tempo went up before the vocals started. Michiel sang lead, with Henk providing backing vocals. Although the version in itself isn't too far removed from the original it did sound a lot heavier. This was mainly because of the guitar, which had a typical distortion. It actually sounded as two instruments with a clear sound and a heavy distortion. I don't think it was two guitars though, because Henk was playing the keyboards.

Bite Better Bark

A long synth noise was first heard and after a while the guitar melody properly started the song. Very heavy bass crashes were played, probably on a synth. Rob only used the kick drum for the beat. The song had a lot of suspense. Henk sang the lyrics very slow and in a low voice. For the chorus the tempo increased, Henk sang higher and the guitar and drum parts became more varied. After this they returned to the slow part. The 'ah-hah' vocals were sung by Henk and Michiel. The end of the song was a hybrid of both parts, before it segued into safety in numbers.

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Bobby Solo

This was played very similar to the original. It had the whole band on backing vocals, except for Henk who sang lead. Fast drums, bass and rhythm guitar were the main musical instruments. Henk almost only played the synth in the 'pazzo pazzo pazzo' parts, which also featured some nice echo-y drums. Michiel sang the spooky sounding 'whoo-hoo-ooh' part, accompanied by some nice music. Henk played the harmonica near the ending. On the album this was done by Robert Jan Stips.

Bungalow

This started out with the guitar theme, played by Michiel. Soon Rob's strong beat, Alex's bass and Henk's guitar joined him. The rhythm section provided a driving groove for this strong version of the song. Henk sang lead, while Michiel and Alex sang backing vocals. The instrumental part sounded great, there were no solos, just a sequence of several themes on guitar played by Henk and Michiel.

Dancing Girl - Red Cat

On a recording of an unknown New Flat concert this song, originally from the debut album, is present. It featured a guest musician, who is announced by Henk just as Martin. He replaced Alex for this song and they rehearsed for 2 evenings. I don't know if this song was part of the repertoire otherwise, it isn't on the other tapes from the tour. This was a real disco-fest. It started with a kick drum beat, rhythm guitar and slap bass. Henk played some typical disco noises on the synth. In the vocal part there was no synth and the music was very basic, probably because of the lack of rehearsing time. Henk sang lead. In the chorus the music became somewhat faster and it featured some more rhythm guitar and disco synth noises. Michiel sang backing vocals. After this an extended instrumental part was played with a very nice bass solo. It featured a lot of slapping bass and fast playing, very unlike what was usually heard with the Nits. The music was just a disco beat provided by Rob and the bass. After a while the guitar returned and the drums became more powerful, resulting in a real disco jam! The song was ended with a guitar theme. The 'red cat' part of the song wasn't played, the song stopped just before it. All in all a very nice performance and definitely something different than usual for the Nits.

Dark Room

This unreleased Nits song debuted at this tour and was still played in the following couple of years. I think it was written by Henk, who sang the lead vocals. The lyrics seem to be about photo development in a dark room or something like that. The music was a driving rock song and the most prominent lyrics of the chorus were 'all I say is you, wah wah you"... The song was quite straightforward and happy sounding. Both Henk and Michiel played guitar. Twice there was a nice break with low 'you're in the dark room' vocals, followed by rhythm guitars parts.

Different Kitchen

The first thing in the song was the drum computer part. Rob started playing a short drum solo over it. After a while the melody was introduced with a low synth sound. Henk half spoke, half sang the lyrics with a hollow sound on his voice. In the chorus the music changed. There was just real drumming, Henk sang the lyrics and Michiel provided rhythm guitar touches and melodies. A strong bass was present in the song. It ended with the fading out of the drum computer.

Empty Room

This song entered the setlists after a couple of months, together with a couple of other still unreleased Work songs. As on the later album version this started out with the guitar intro. A low synth and the drum grove joined this after a short while. It sounds like Alex played a synth on this song. Henk provided some shrieking synth effects. The weird thing about this song is that it would probably be the wildest song of the following few tours, but because this tour was very wild itself this song didn't stand out as rough sounding, actually it sounded quite poppy compared to a lot of other tunes! In the breakdown part more synth effects were played. Michiel sang backing vocals and in the instrumental end part he played some cool guitar, along with Henk's synth sounds. All in all a very nice version of this song. The song was sometimes introduced by Henk under the title 'Empty Rooms'.

Footprint

At the time this was still unreleased. They played it scaringly similar to the later album version. It featured two synths. One played by Henk for the melodies and one played by Alex for the low noises, which were the main sound in this song. Michiel sang backing vocals. This version sounded so close to the later released version that they must almost have played it live in the studio to record it around that same time. The only difference is in the ending. In the studio they overdubbed this with other instruments. On this tour's and later live version the song's ending was a sort of hesitant melody.

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Harrow Accident

As in previous tours this segued out of 'so in love'. Both Henk and Michiel played the busy rhythm guitar lines in the intro in a quite wild fashion. It didn't sound as tight as in the studio version, but it did sound much more alive. Michiel sang lead vocals, while Henk did the backing vocals. They both sang the lyrics together in the chorus. Rob and Alex provided a nice rhythm and Michiel played a good guitar solo. Towards the end they returned in a great way to the guitar theme. It was played even busier than in the beginning of the song.

His First Object

This short and strange little tune was only played during this tour. It featured a beautiful guitar sound, played by Michiel and a very nice countermelody, played on Henk's synth. As on the album the first and last few lines were sung by Michiel, who's voice was distorted. Henk sang the middle part of the song. Very short, but very nice. This was probably the most elegant song of the tour. Usually this song segued into Tutti Ragazzi.

Holiday On Ice

This segued from 'new flat'. It was played with the guitar much more to front than the studio version, making this a rather sinister sounding rock song. Michiel played several melodies and touches and even some powerchords at regular intervals. It had synth melodies throughout and Henk's singing was great. Michiel sang backing vocals. An echo-y guitar climax ended the song.

Hook of Holland

A slow, industrial sounding  cymbal beat started this song. A low synth noise was played in the background and Michiel played the main melody on guitar before the vocals started. This song was much more quiet than most with its slow bass and drums and the echo-y piano. The 'trains and boats and plains' parts were not sung.

If I Were You

This unreleased Nits song, written by Henk, was already played in the prehistoric period, bit this tour was its last one. It was quite a busy song with a strong bass and drums groove and distorted guitars by Henk and Michiel.Alex and Michiel sang backing vocals. A rough sounding guitar solo was played, followed by a nice guitar melody in the second vocal part. A bass-heavy long instrumental ending was part of the song. This sounded a bit like holiday on ice. It had several powerchords and a quite sudden ending.

I Saw Her Standing There

This Beatles song had been part of the encores for a long time, but this tour it was for the last time in the setlists.Henk sang lead vocals in this enthusiastic version. It was played wilder than the original with some very fast rhythm guitars by Henk and Michiel.

Lies

Another unreleased Nits tune that was played very often in the years before 1981. As always this song started right off after 'Monotony' stopped. After the first a capella full band vocals of 'lies lies' for a couple of times the bass, drums and guitars started and Henk sang the lead vocals. The chorus had the whole band singing again. Just before the short instrumental ending a short a capella break was done.

London Letters

Only the music of this song from the first album were played. The lyrics were changed and it was retitled to 'Museum Square'. Please look there for more information.

Monotony

This song about being bored in school is another unreleased Nits tune that was played very often ion the early days. It was always played in a combo with 'Lies'. The song was a rock song with a strong beat, a heavy bass and two rock guitars. Michiel sang lead in a rather sinister way. The main lyric was 'No more schooldays'. Henk sang backing vocals in the chorus and some other parts. Henk added some guitar noise and Michiel played a guitar solo.

Museum Square

This unreleased song used the music of the debut album song 'London letters'. It was a little bit updated, so it sounded a bit more electronic. The lyrics were sung by Michiel and were completely new. They are about a man who went to a museum with a knife to cut up paintings. Henk sang backing vocals. The jumpy music was mainly based on the synth and bass, but there were also some very nice rhythm effects and a guitar solo. A second prewritten guitar solo was played in the ending. This was a very nice tune, which would have fitted very well on New Flat or even Work.

New Flat

This was played in a very new-wave fashion. It had a percussion and vocal intro. After this fast drumming, guitar, bass and more vocals started. It was played rather fast and sounded very 'staccato. Henk sang lead and played the synth melodies. Michiel sang backing vocals. On the album version in the middle of the tense drum break there are several guitar power chords, but in this tour's live version they were replaced by synth chords. After this break the full band returned and it was played to the end. It sort of segued into holiday on ice.

Office At Night

This is one of the first songs Henk wrote about a work of art. This song is based on the painting 'Office at night' by American painter Edward Hopper. An interesting side note is that this painting was used a couple of years later for the cover of the 'Typist of candy' single! The lyrics to this song are a more or less a free interpretation of what can be seen on the painting.

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Edward Hopper - Office at night (1940)

The song started with an 'OH!' by Henk. First there were no other instruments then synthbass and drums. Henk's singing was very loud. The song remained the same until the 'and the light falls through the windows of the sidewalk' part, which was sung by Michiel with percussion and a synthline as backing music. After this the synthbass and more other synth sounds were added. Michiel picked up a trumpet and started playing some haunting sounds with a lot of echo and stereo-effects. The drumming got even tighter and the atmosphere of the song became very intense. A last 'OH!' by Henk ended this song.

Out of Suburbia

This fast-played song was driven by the synth and it featured some fast guitar melodies. Michiel sang lead and Henk backing vocals for the most part of the song, but sometimes they would also both sing lead together. The structure of the song was the same as the original, just a little bit faster. In the break there were some strange vocal echoes on both voices. The short instrumental part featured various hysterical synth noises.

Ping Pong

Percussion and the ping pong synth melody was played in the beginning. Other low synths that may have been played by Alex entered, soon followed by the guitar. The harmony vocals were Henk, Michiel, Alex and maybe Rob. The heavy part had the loud rock guitar. Henk sang lead and both Alex and Michiel provided the backing vocals. Near the end there was the cool break, which was quite rough sounding this time, with a heavy, but clear synth sound.

Please Please Me

This Beatles cover was sometimes played as an encore instead of I Saw Her Standing There. It was played rather faithful to the original with both Henk and Michiel playing guitar and singing the lyrics. Michiel sang the lead alone in the bridge, with Henk providing backing parts.

Red Tape

This song was still unreleased at the time of this tour. It would be a small hit shortly after it ended. It was played very similar to the Work version. Two synths were played, the melody by Henk with a smooth sound and by Alex, who played low beeping sounds. In the background Michiel played some rather subtle guitar. Henk sang the lead vocals, Michiel sang backup. The instrumental parts sounded rather laid-back and the second one had a very clear sounding guitar solo. The new songs that were played during this tour all sounded much subtler than the old ones for some reason. The song was often introduced by Henk under it's original title: 'Work'.

Ronald Razorblade

Unfortunately the only version of this song from this tour is incomplete. It is cut about halfway through. It started with a bluesy keyboard/vocal intro. For the verse the instruments were bass, drums and piano. Michiel sang backing vocals and provided guitar touches. The sound of this version was even more 'poppy' and happy sounding than the original. This was quite a relief from all the very serious, almost angry sounding rock/new wave songs. The second part was more or less old-fashioned rock and roll with Michiel on lead and Henk on backing vocals. Unfortunately this part is very short on the Nits Archive tape due to the cut, so I can't say how it continued and ended.

Rubber Gloves

This never was my favorite Nits song and still isn't. The lyrics about pulp hospital novels seem somewhat dated with its references to Deborah Harry. But at the time this of course wasn't the case. To my knowledge this song was never performed after this tour. Michiel sang the lyrics over a jumpy synth, bass and drums backing. Henk sang backing vocals and later on was singing co-lead. Michiel also played the rhythm guitar. The instrumental part was the nicest section of the song. It had some low synth noises over a rather cool rhythm and there was a guitar solo. A short return to the vocals ended the song.

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Safety In Numbers

Through a jumpy synth segue, doubled by the guitar, from 'bite better bark' this song started. The bass and drums entered when the singing started. Michiel sang all the vocals, including the high 'joi-oi-oi-oin' ones. The song remained rather jumpy, but was still very dramatic sounding. A nice rhythm guitar was played in the instrumental parts.

Saragossa

This song was one of the roughest songs the Nits ever released and in concert it was even more wild. It was written by Michiel and lyrics are about the mating habits of eels! It had a bass-only intro, then the drums entered. Henk started playing some screeching guitar noises, while Michiel played the fast guitar melody. After the long instrumental intro Michiel sang the song, while Henk continued his shrieking noises throughout. Except for the chorus, where he shifted to a distorted rhythm part. Michiel played several melodies throughout the song. This version was rather impressive.

Slick Ballad

This unreleased Nits song had been played for several years, but this tour it was played for the last time. The main lyric was 'I could easily fall in love with you his time' It's an upbeat pop tune with two guitars and Michiel and Henk sharing the lead vocals. It's not a real remarkable song, but it could have fitted easily on the debut or Tent album.

So In Love

This song from the debut album survived until this tour, after which it was put back into the shelf after years of faithful service. It got a good sending off though. It was played faster, more intense and heavier than before. Two guitars, bass and the drums were the instruments. There was no synth. Henk played the rhythm guitar and sang lead. Michiel played lead guitar, played a very nice solo and sang backing vocals. This song was transformed into a sort of power ballad. Rob used a lot of cymbals in this song. The song ended weird with strange drum sounds, before it segued into harrow accident, as it had done most of the time in its career.

Statue

This great song about a stiff, introvert man who is slowly turning into a statue had a beautiful guitar sound for its main theme. This plus the bass and the percussion also consisted of the intro. There was no synth, Henk played some additional guitar. Michiel sang lead and Henk backing vocals during the verses. For the chorus Henk sang the low vocals, while Michiel did the high ones. Later on in the rough part of the song Henk was almost shouting out the lyrics. In the instrumental part and in the ending there were screaming electric guitars that worked up to a climax over a staccato beat.

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Tables and Chairs

This song was released as the b-side to 'bobby solo', but it is much better known as a track on the Work album. The b-side version had a slightly longer middle part and sounded somewhat rougher. The live version this tour was very much like that b-side version with the heavier synth and guitar. At the tour the song was cut up nto three parts: 'tables and chairs do not like one another', 'tables and chairs instrumental' and 'tables and chairs do like each other'.  The b-side version has 'long version' added to its title to indicate it is made up of the three shorter parts. For some reason the songs were not played in the right order.

Tables And Chairs (Do Like Each Other)

This was the last part of the song, but it was played first of the unknown complete concert. It had a mellow instrumental beginning before Michiel and Henk both sang the 'tables and chairs do like each other' parts. Further on there were several lyrics that were sung by Michiel alone. A few short instrumental parts were played. The second one slightly deviated from the studio version with some different keyboard sounds. This section ended rather sudden. But for the rest it was close to the original. In Schagen this section was missing for some reason.

Tables And Chairs (Do Not Like One Another)

This is the beginning of the normal version of the song, but at the unknown complete concert it was played as the second part near the end of the concert. It was also played in Schagen, where it was connected to the instrumental part. The structure was the same as the studio version, although it sounded rougher than the Work version. The intro was instrumental for a while. The vocals were sung by all the band members.  This section stopped with an instrumental breakdown just before where on the studio version the instrumental part starts, right after a final 'tables!'.. A few times the next section was played connected to it.

Tables And Chairs (Instrumental)

At the unknown complete concert this was played separately during the encores of the concert. In Schagen it was connected to the 'tables and chairs do not like one another' section. This was quite similar to the long instrumental section that's on the studio versions of this song. The melodies were played by the synth which had a weird echo. More synth parts, guitar and drums were played, but the bass was either very soft or completely absent. This section was slightly longer than on the studio versions, but musically it didn't deviate that much.

Tent

This was played tighter than it would ever be. It started with an 'ugly' distorted drum, joined by some low distorted synth bass. After some syntheffects the 'tenttenttent' vocals were sung and the song was played all the way through. It had the same structure as the album version, but it sounded more tighter, harsher and it was slightly faster. A very 'new wave'-version.

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Tutti Ragazzi

This was at this point still the biggest hit of the band. It was played along the same lines as the original Tent version, but as with most songs this tour it sounded a bit rougher. Often it segued out of His First Object with the pinball synth sounds, before the full band kicked in. There was a rough rhythm guitar, a heavy bass and fast drums. In the first verse there was no synth, but later Henk played it along with his singing. In the instrumental parts it was very much to the front. The whole band provided backing vocals. 

Uncle On Mars

The song started with some ferocious drumming by Rob, which he continued to do throughout. A heavy synth melody was played by Henk over this. There was also a very low synth bass and a greatly played real bass by Alex. Henk sang lead and in the chorus Michiel sang backing vocals. A weird echo was added to the 'stars' vocal. The song sounded very intense and even angry. A long cool ending was played with some strange synth melodies and noises, as well as some wild bass playing.

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Walk Don't Run

This instrumental 'surf music' guitar tune was originally a song by the Ventures and was played several times during the encores. It had also been played at the previous tour. Rob started the song on drums, the bass and rhythm guitar entered after a while. Michiel played the main melody over this. Henk followed his lead with the rhythm guitar. Halfway through the song Henk switched to the synth and played the main theme on it, while Michiel provided the rhythm guitar pats in background.

Work

This was the original title of Red Tape and it was often announced by Henk under this title. the renamed the song, but decided to name the album after it anyway.

The Young Reporter

This was played rather similar to the original. It had a heavy bass and Henk played some orchestral sounds. Michiel played some nice guitar parts throughout the song, switching from beat to surf to rock. He also provided backing vocals. A rather long staccato part with drums and synth was played along the 'oh-oh-oh' vocals. The playing on this song was very tight.

Zebra

This is probably one of the weirdest Nits songs present on one of their albums (there are some even weirder songs available as b-sides..). For the live performance the music was completely rewritten. Instead of the ticking percussion noises they now played some very funky music. Over a nice bass and drums groove and a funky guitar Henk played a synth melody. Early versions of the song featured another guitar melody over it. This sounded nice, but made the song somewhat messy. The vocals were sung in the same way as on the album with Michiel singing 'Wait' and Henk replying 'cross now'. Michiel sang the main vocal part. The 'here I am on the zebra' part was sung by both Henk and Michiel. The guitar melody structure of the song was also almost the same as on the album. Henk played a short, but weird organ solo. This song has to be heard to be believed. This version is great!

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