Amsterdam-Bern Connection (1996) / Helsingin
Juhlaviikot Festival (1997) /
Rhapsodia (1997) / Plantage (1997)
This page consists of the pre-natal Alankomaat concerts, as they are called in the Alankomaat booklet. They consisted of a small tour through Switzerland in November of 1996 by Henk with the band Stop the Shoppers. The other was a single concert at the Helsingin Juhlaviikot Festival in Helsinki on September 4th 1997. Also some special TV appearances occured in this period.
This section will be the main part of theis page. The concerts in Switzerland weren't really Nits concerts. It was a collaboration between Henk Hofstede, Swiss band Stop the Shoppers and singer Chessy Weaver under the name 'the Amsterdam-Bern Connection. They were brought together by Eric Facon, a personal friend of both the Nits (Letter to E!) and Stop the Shoppers. The occasion to do this was a festival called the 'Berner Songtage'. This is what Eric e-mailed me about these concerts:
'Somewhere early 95, a local organisation asked me whether I had any good idea for a festival called Berner Songtage; Berne being the country's capital in terms of rock'n'roll. The Songtage were a two or three day-festival with bands from the region. They wanted to get other people involved.
One idea involved girl-musicians from Zürich; this one came about in 95. The second one was Henk and a couple of musicians from Berne, a natural suggestion since I've known Henk for the better part of 16 years now and since I live in Berne. Since the Nits were not doing anything the second part of 96, Henk was willing to have a go. I presented him with a list of about 25 musicians from Berne to work with; because time was scarce, we decided on one band: The Shoppers (or Stop the Shoppers, as they were called then). Happily, they agreed to work with Henk and the girl-singer Chessy Weaver (a New Yorker living in Berne), although only one of them (Chris the keyboarder) knew what the Nits are all about.
Henk wrote the songs in pretty short space of time and sent two MC's of material, the Shoppers took it from there. They rehearsed for four days and played the first concert on the fifth.
8.11.96 Café Mokka, Thun (1st half the
Shoppers, 2nd half ABC)
9.11.96 Dampfzentrale Bern
10.11.96 Kuppel, Basel
13.11.96 Scala, Bubikon
14.11.96 Chrämerhuus, Langenthal
15.11.96 Zwischenbühne, Horw
They played a lot of songs, many from Alankomaat (as you will know) and a couple of old Nits-favourites, amongst which a totally devastating version of "Adieu" with the Keyboarder of the Shoppers on accordeon and Henk on piano. Also a J.O.S. days played as an encore and nobody except Henk and the keyboarder knew the song. And also a wonderfully drunk "I'll be you baby tonight" from Langenthal.'
'A nice little anecdote: Henk landed in Belpmoos, the infamous small airport of Berne (subject of song by Patent Ochsner, another big act in Switzerland and huge Nits-fans too). A crew of Swiss TV came to film his arrival but didn't recognize him when he stepped of the plane. The girl from TV came running up to me for help (yelling: he's not on this flight, he's not there!). All of a sudden a customs officer came walking up to us and asked us whether we were looking for a pop star of the Nits; he'd seen him. Fortunately the cameraman had stayed behind and filmed everybody as they were getting off; lo and behold: the last one to get out was Henk.'
More comments by Eric are added thorughout this page. Eric has been
extremely helpful with providing information for this page, for which I can't thank him
There will be also some comments by Suonna Kononen, who gave a review of the new songs from a tape of the Bern concert he acquired.
The Helsinki concert consisted of the two remaining Nits: Henk and Rob. They were helped by two members of the Finnish group Rinneradio. This performance had even less rehearsal time than the four days of the Amsterdam-Bern Connection! Henk had sent some songs on tape to two musicians, so they could practise their parts. When Henk and Rob arived in Finland they only had several hours to rehearse! Rinneradio performed after the Nits and for their encore Rob and Henk joined this band and played with them. This performance luckily exists completely on tape.
Suonna Kononen was present at this particular concert and gave a detailed report on the Nits Mailing List at the time. I will include excerpts from this report at the song listing. He also gave an explanation why this project could work:
'Rinneradio is an act managed by Rockadillo company, same one that has arranged Nits' Finland gigs since early 80's. No wonder this collaboration takes place.'
There were some other appearances by Henk during the pre-natal Alankomaat phase. The performances at the Dutch tv show 'De Plantage' with Henk and de Dijk and the guest spot at the Freek/Stips 'Rhapsodia' concert in Paradiso will also be dealt with in this section.
Stop the Stoppers is a band from Bern, Switzerland (They shortened their name to Shoppers nowadays). Eric Facon described to me their music as 'a pretty interesting band playing anything between cajun, hip hop, funk, African, Cuba, Rock and also Swiss-German, if that exists at all.' Eric sent me a tape with several highlights of their albums and I must say that I was very impressed. I can see why he chose to combine them with Henk for this project. The description of the music is probably as accurate as possible, but I think it still doesn't describe the music very well! The style is very unique. The Shoppers' music seems very oriented on sounds and grooves. The beautifully sung lyrics in the Bern dialect of Swiss-German sounds to me mysterious and familiar at the same time. A sort of playfullness shines through all the songs in a simialr way as with the Nits' music. Although musically it seems very different from the Nits, the feeling of the music was the base of the possibility to make this project work.
Unfortunately their music is virtually unavailable outside of Switzerland, but if you ever get the chance to get one of their albums or visit a concert I'm positive no one will be disappointed. For more information it's possible to go to the band's website or contact Eric.
Chessy Weaver is an American singer living in Switzerland. She used to sing with a band called 'Phon Roll'. Henk had heard her sing before and was charmed by her voice. So she was invited to join the project as well.
Henk Hofstede: guitar, piano, vocals
Chessy Weaver: vocals
Christian Brantschen (*): keyboards, accordion, vocals
Oli Hartung (*): guitar, vocals
Jüre Schmidhauser (*): standing bass on most songs, electric bass on some
Andi Hug (*): drums, percussion, mandolin, vocals
Schmidi Schmidhauser (*): vocals, glockenspiel, percussion, guitar
(*): Stop the Shoppers
Rinneradio is a sort of symphonic band with an ambient touch. In the Nits performance the two Rinneradio members went into 'Nits mode' and when the Nits joined Rinneradio they adapted to their sound. This all resulted in an excellent sounding musical exchange project!
Henk Hofstede: guitar, vocals
Rob Kloet: drums, backing vocals
Kimmo Kajasto (*): keyboards
Jari Kokkonen (*): double bass
Wimme Saari: guest joiking
(*) members of Rinneradio. The whole band of Rinneradio were joined by Nits on stage at the same festival.
De Dijk is a very famous band in Holland. The play powerful rock/blues/rhythm and blues type music. The usually have excellent Dutch lyrics.
Huub van der Lubbe: vocals
Nico Arzbach: guitar
Pim Kops: keyboards
Hans van der Lubbe: electric bass
Antonie Kroes: drums
Henk Hofstede: guest acoustic guitar and vocals
Well, what to say about Freek/Stips.. Freek of course worked with the Nits in 1994-1995 for the Frits project and Robert Jan was in the Nits for 15 years! Hella is Freek's wife and the other musicians were part of Robert Jan's band 'Stips'. Martin Bakker of course also was in the Nits, as well in the previous version of Stips. The 'Rhapsodia' concert in Paradiso, Amsterdam was organized because Freek had a huge hit with the song 'Leven na de dood', for which he received a gold record.
Freek de Jonge: vocals
Robert Jan Stips: keyboards, accordion, vocals
Mark Boon: guitar
Norbert Sollewijn Gelpke: bass guitar
Roy Bakker: drums
Hella de Jonge: violin
Henk Hofstede: guest vocals
Martin Bakker: guest guitar
I doubt there was a stage design made especially for these concerts.
The Swiss and Finnish concerts featured several songs that would appear on the Alankomaat album. The Swiss concerts also featured several older songs and some covers. The Helsinki concert included some older songs as well. For both concerts the sound of the songs was very basic. This was of course due to the fact of the songs still being in development, but mostly because of the limited rehearsals. These concerts are great to hear!
Eric Facon mentioned the reason why no Shoppers songs were played during the Amsterdam-Bern Connection performances:
'ABC was meant as an exchange program, i.e. songs of the Nits and songs of the Shoppers and songs that Chessy might bring in (plus the new ones, naturally). It turned out that everybody wanted to play Shoppers-tunes, i.e. Bonjour Tati (Henk's favourite) or Langsame Cowboy (Slow Cowboy). The slow cowboy was played during soundcheck once, but Schmidi was of the opinion that he didn't want to sing in Swiss-German during a concert that was made up entirely of English songs. Thus one part of the contract wasn't fulfilled, unfortunately. I think most members of the Shoppers (four out of five, actually) regretted that later on - lots of people in Switzerland wanted to know too. But there you go...'
The real star of the Helsinki concerts was Rob. His drumming was all over the songs. During the Amsterdam-Bern Connection he was not present and the Shoppers did a more than excellent job replacing him, but Rob's drumming is so essential to the Nits sound that at the Helsonki concerts the songs did sound more 'Nitsy' than at the ABC. Paul Telman was also present in Helsinki behind the sound control board to ensure the right Nits sound.
the light, three sisters, robinson, H.O.M., cold wind, soulman, louder and louder, distance, pictures of the gone world, the concrete brothers, rainfallagain, he she me, letter to E, the wedding, hold me geneva, I'll be your baby tonight, all-has, I was brought to my senses, Einstein's house, Blind willie McTell, Henk's gouden platenblues
cold wind, distance, pictures of the gone world, the concrete brothers, 'bike in head', dAdAdA, he she me, the wedding, I'll be your baby tonight, for no one, nathalie, all-has, heaven, I was brought to my senses, Einstein's house, Blind Willie McTell, Henk's gouden platenblues
Amsterdam-Bern Connection This Nits classic was played in one of the best versions ever. Only two people played on it: Henk on piano and vocals and Christian on accordion. Henk'' piano playing sounded a bit more 'hythmic' than Robert Jan Stips would have done, but it sounded beautiful. Christian played the appropriate lines on accordion. This stripped down version worked great, it sounds like Henk and Christian have been playing together like this for years. The instrument al parts featured variations by both musicians. Near the end Henk started to half whisper, half sing the lyrics and the song ended in a very slow way. According to Eric Facon:
'[The second ever live performance of Adieu by Henk and Christian] was a once in a lifetime version. Henk and Christian still get tears in their when they talked about it. This song was never rehearsed.'
A short fragment of this song by Swiss band 'Stiller Has' was mentioned by Henk during Soul Man.
The Nits had decided to never play this song again and they actually kept their word.. Durng the big Rinneradio spectacle Kimmo suddenly started playing the bike bell melody of this song over the ambient backing of the rest of Rinneradio. This lasted a few minutes and it served as an introduction to the return of Rob and Henk on stage, who were greeted by great enthusiasm of the Finnish audience. The drums slowly morphed into the dA dA dA rhythm and that song was played next.
This was a very special performance, live on tv at the Dutch TV show 'de Plantage' . It was a special performance of Dutch band De Dijk (who usually sing in Dutch), with Henk Hofstede as a special guest. The song was written by Bob Dylan, and it apparently was first covered by another band. Dylan's version was released much later. Most of the musicians were seated next to each other with Henk and Huub van der Lubbe (singer of De Dijk sitting in the middle. Henk played acoustic guitar and sang the lead vocals, alternating them with Huub van der Lubbe. Henk's full and warm voice mixed well with Huub's much more rough sounding voice. The music was rather traditional sounding, but very good nonetheless. On TV it showed how much fun the musicians had on stage. The instrumentation consisted of drums, bass, several guitars, mandolin, piano and clarinet (which had a few solos). The song lasted over 5 minutes. They must have been very happy with this performance, because it turned up shortly after this performance as a b-side on a single by De Dijk.
According to Eric Facon, Cars and Cars was performed on the last night of the tour solo by Henk on the piano.
This was a song written by Henk for this project, but unlike most others (except He She Me) it never appeared anywhere else. It's a slow traditional country song. Henk started it alone on his acoustic guitar, but he was soon joined by Andi Hug, the drummer, on mandolin. A little bit later the bass and an accordion also joined. Finally some electric slide guitar touches were added. Henk than began to sing the vocals of the first verse. This was followed by an instrumental part featuring the accordion and the electric guitar playing the main vocal melody over an acoustic guitar, mandolin and bass backing. The second verse, which was identical to the first one, was sung by Chessy, later joined by Henk on backing vocals. Their voices fitted together very well on this one. The instrumental part was played once again, but no with Henk speaking some things over it in a low voice about some American destinations and Gary Grant. This melancholic song ended straight after Henk's last words. This song wasn't very long or really special, but nice to hear anyway, especially if you like this sort of music. The lyrics of the song are:
There's a cold wind that blows tonight
On a highway on a rainy night
And I'm driving with a ghost by my side
There's a cold wind that blows tonight, tonight
There's a cold wind that blows tonight
On a highway on a rainy night
Chessy, with Henk:
And I'm driving with a ghost by my side
There's a cold wind that blows tonight, tonight
From Spokane to Billings
From Billings to Rapid City
To Mount Rushmore
Where the great man in stone are not rolling anymore
I saw Gary Grant leaving North by Northwest
Goodbye Gary, may your soul rest
Jochen Stein sent me the following extra information:'about the Cold Wind song: the spoken lyrics remind me of the film "North by Northwest" from Hitchcock. It´s a classic thriller with Cary Grant, he travels across the US (direction NbNW), with a big showdown on Mount Rushmore. Probably Henk was inspired by this film.'
This song formned the musical base for the 1988 hit 'the Dream'. On the 1995 rarities album 'Quest' it appeared for the first time in a version recorded for the 'In the Dutch Mountains' album. It had never been played live before this tour. The lyrics of this song are about the story of the bankrupt of a small business his father and his brothers had. Henk explained the story of the song over an intro by the rhythm section and the piano. After this more instruments kjoined. Especially the electric guitar was prominent with it's African and Caribean sounding melodies. Throughout the song the percussion was very nice. Henk introduced some quotes from Lou Reed's famous song 'Walk on the Wild Side', as he would also do in the next year's live version of the dream. The chorus of the song consisted of fiercely spoken lyrics 'the Concrete Brothers!' Quite unexpectantly Henk would say 'Rumba' and that's just what would happen. The Shoppers went into a somewhat messy rumba rhythm with very busy music, especially the percussion. A piano solo was played over this and it continued for quite a while. After some time of this rather interesting bit the music slowed down for the final part of the song, but after the next chorus the rumba returned once again. This second part was even more exciting than the first, with another piano solo and wild electric rhythm guitar. This was continued for some time, until the Henk would end it by shouting 'Stop ..... the Shoppers'. Even though it comes across very loose and chaotic, this version is very worthwhile to hear.
This song morphed out of the big Rinneradio spectacle through the Bike in HEah bike bell melody. The drums slowly turned into the dA dA dA rhythm and in the meantime Rob and Henk had returned to the stage. Rob drummed along with the Rinneradio rhythm and Kimmo strated to play the main melody of the song. Henk joined on acoustic guitar. The synths remained faithful to the original, inserting the appropriate melodies and touches to the song. After a cymbal crash Henk started singing the lyrics. There wee no backing vocals. The instrumental part was very good. It featured a new sequenced synth part and the violin parts were now played by the saxophone in a 'blues-y' way. This sounded incredibly cool. After the instrumental section Henk started to sing again, while the sax continued in the backgorund. The song ended with the sequenced synth sound, the drums and sax noises. The drums were the last instrumetns heard. This escellent version of this song ended the whol performance of the Nits and Rinneradio and was followed by someone (Rinne?) naming all the particpants of the whole concert.
' "Rinneradio in Db" was a huge spectacle with sounds, lights and videos screened, but I was getting slightly tired. No possibilities to even drink "Frozen Nits Drinks" which were served, since I was going to drive back soon... What kept me aware was Rob's drum kit still on the main stage during Rinneradio's activities, plus the fact Johan had heard the band rehearsing dAdAdA which wasn't played during Nits set. So, Rinneradio is playing their encore..... And then Bike In Head bell sounds begin to ring, Rob and Henk join to the stage and dAdAdA is launched! Nice version a la the official recorded one, Rinneradio's leader Tapani Rinne playing beautiful sax parts. This song ends the whole night.'
Eric Facon explains the origins of this song: 'Distance was written by guitar-player Frank Gerber for his ex-band CENTRAL SERVICES with the lyrics by Chessy. Frank sometimes plays guitar with STILLER HAS. What a small world....! There is a second recorded version on Chessy's solo-album "Boomerang" where she duets with Frank on guitar. The ABC-version falls midway between the two.' The song featured Chessy on lead vocals of course. The song was medium tempo and rock-like. The drums started it, some piano touches were played by Henk and the guitar and the bass joined. Several organ touches were also played. Henk and probably Schmidi sang backing vocals. The drumming was very cool on this song.
Walter Schäppi mentions this as one of the possible songs played at this tour. It is almost certainly a wrong title for the song 'Pictures of the Gone World'.
A song with this name showed up on a setlist for the Bern concert on the mailing list, but according to Eric Facon this song doesn't exist... Fellini is of course the famous Italian movie director that died not too long ago.
The Nits' Swiss song could of course not be omitted from the Amsterdam-Bern Connection. It actually was the first song played. It was a very basic version with just Henk playing piano and singing the lyrics on his own. He performed solo for the most part, until the spot where the album version has a percussion break. Here Stop the Shoppers started playing this break on cowbells. After some time of this Henk started playing piano over this and he finished the song with one more verse and chorus, while the percussion continued. This was a very intimate and beautiful way to start the concerts. Eric Facon mailed me the following anecdote about the cowbells:
'There's a nice story about the cow bells that I had to beg off a farmer family near the rehearsal room of the Shoppers; they are usually very proud of these very heavy bells and never let them out of their hands! Fortunately, I knew a restaurant owner in the vicinity who is also a musician and assured these farmers that we'd hand back the bells after two weeks. When I got home after those two weeks, sure enough, I already had three phone calls on the answering machine inquiring about the bells.'
Walter Schäppi mentions this Beatles song as one of the possible songs played at this tour. But according to Eric Facon it was never played, except maybe during rehearsals.
This beautiful Talking Heads song about a bar called 'Heaven' had already regularly been played by the Nits in 1996, so that it turned up at the Amsterdam-Bern Connection wasn't a surprise. This version was rather faithful to the original. It was started with the bass and drums. The electric piano came in next, sollowed by the vocals and the acoustic guitar. The electric guitar was added last. The sogn was played in a rather subdued version, except for the chorus where there was louder electric guitar, Chessy on backing vocals and a great organ. They played the whole song, lasting about 4 minutes.
This was released on the Freek de Jonge and Stips album 'Rhapsodia'. It documents the presentation of a gold record for Freek by Henk, live on stage at the Paradiso in Amsterdam. The gold record was for the song 'Leven na de dood', a very funny adaptation of Bob Dylan's' Death is not the end'. Freek and Stips had just started this song when Freek stopped it and called Henk to the stage. Martin Bakker also came on stage, so together with Robert Jan 60% of the previous Nits line-up was together on stage again! Henk presented the gold record by singing a song. Henk himself called it 'De oude man, de jonge blues' (The old man, the young blues), but on the CD it' s titled 'Henk's Gouden Platen Blues' (Henk's Gold Record Blues). It was preceded by Henk saying some words. He then began singing, accompanied by Robert Jan on accordion. The music was a typical simple blues. The lyrics were about old age and success and were often rather funny. More musicians joined while the song progressed. Although it's nice to hear, it isn' t very special musically. After a few minutes it ended and Henk gave the gold record to Freek. The song 'Leven na de dood' was then continued again.
This very strange song was one of the new songs that didn't end up on the Alankomaat album eventually. The song itself was preceded by Henk enthusiastically telling the story of his visit to Yokohama in Japan over a backing of mandolin and guitar. On the station in Yokohama he met a girl named Yoko, who helped him find his way. It appeared thatYoko had three personalities inside her: He, She and Me. The three personalities were jealous of each other and that's apparently what this song's about. The song itself was mostly instrumental. During the introduction by Henk the bass, piano and organ also appeared. The music was a sort of cheesy 1970s sounding groove with the paino playing the main melody. The chorus was the only section with lyrics, recited by Henk with a few Stoppers. The music stopped and the only words were: 'He - She - Me - Jealousy', sometimes followed by varying short musical 'hits' and sounds. After this the cheesy music returned. This happened a few times. At one point Henk and the Shoppers sang along with the piano melody, making it sound a bit like the Beatles' 'Flying'. Weird organ sounds ended the song after a few minutes. I can understand why this song didn't make it on the Alankomaat album, because even though it's quite interesting and funny, I don't think it would have fitted very well between the other songs if it would have remained in this arrangement. It would have been a nice b-side though!
This prenatal version of the Alankomaat song featured the same lyrics and the core of the music was also present. It was only just not much more than that: the core. The music remained rather subdued and simple throughout. The whole atmosphere was a bit sinister. In a way it reminds me a lot of the style of the band 'The Fun Loving Criminals', who often make music sounding like this, but that's probably a coincedence. The music starts with just the drums, soon joined by the bass, electric guitar touches and organ accents. Later in the song the drums and percussion were a bit more complex. The harmonies in the chorus unfortunately didn't soon as full as on later versions. It was just Henk and Chessy singing. Two rather soft electric guitar solos were played in the song. Later on in the song the electric guitar touches came more to the front, especially in the 'back on the road' part. The song ended with the band 'fading out'.
This Alankomaat song probably still had it's full title at the time: Heart of Mine. The music was very interesting, since it was completely different from the later released version. The melody of the vocals was the same, but the music was an electronic sounding funky groove with very prominent 'chopped' synth noises and a repeating electric guitar theme. All of this was played over a jumpy beat. Over the intro Henk improvised some lyrics from the song 'Giele' by another Swiss band 'Stiller Has'. He also said some stuff into Dutch about astronauts, spaghetti and getting thinner and thicker again. Every performance was a bit different in the intro. It all was rather weird though. Henk then started singing the H.O.M. lyrics. For the chorus the music changed into a heavy rock sound with a loud electric guitar and it had Chessy on backing vocals. This early version already featured the joiking (Finnish traditional singing), although in Switzerland it was more appropriate to call it yodeling. Schmidi Schmidhauser joined Henk in this. A long instrumetnal section featured rumbling drumming, distorted electric guitar and a solo with the chopped synth noises. The vocals returned after this, but the guitar played the original theme now with the distorted sound. This version of this song is very interesting and well worthwhile to track down.
This was one of the most interesting songs of the Helsinki concert.Musically it was similar to the ALnkomat verison and had nothing to do with the Amsterdam-Bern Connection version, except the lyrics of course. It started with rain sounds. A low synth, some piano and a standing bass started. Then Rob entered with the drums, playing the same complex rhythm as on the Alankomaat version. Henk delivered the lyrics in a half spoken/half sung style. There were also some moody piano parts during the song. It all had a rather dark atmosphere. The 'And I can't understand' section had a nice piano backing. The highlights of the song were the 'joiking' parts. Joiking is a type of traditional Finnish singing. To me it sounds a bit like yodeling, but that's probably an insult to real joikers or yodelers... These joiking parts featured special gust Wimme, a Lappish singer and joiker. He also performed on the album version of this song. Henk joiked a bit, but it was mostly Wimme's great voice in these parts. It lasted for wuite a while before the song returned. A second joiking part featured Wimme again, now together with Henk. This went on until the song ended. The audience response to this excellent performance was very loud.
'Great "free-pop" arrangement a la Around The Fish. First time during the show Henk is on the stage without a guitar. During the chorus Finnish singer Wimme Saari (who has recorded and performed with Rinneradio many times earlier) joins in to sing Lappish vocal parts... Big, big applauses from the audience.'
This tour's arrangment of this Nits classic was maybe the best ever, although the performance was still a bit rough sounding. When the Nits usually play it there are two possible versions: one with keyboards and one with the accordion. Normally not much deviation happens in this song. For this tour however the song had a completely new arrangement. It was more or less based on the accordion version, since that instrument featured very prominent for the main melodies. The biggest difference was that Henk didn't sing lead vocals. Chessy Weaver took his place. Her smokey voice fitted the song very well. Henk, sometimes together with Schmidi Schmidhauser, provided the backing vocals and harmonies. The music was played by the full band on drums, bass, percussion, electric guitar, accordion and Henk on acoustic guitar. It all sounded melancholic, but very fresh, especially the bass got a chance to shine and there was also a very good accordion solo. The backing vocals were newly arranged for this version. They consisted of repeating Chessy's vocals in the chorus or harmonizing with them in other parts. In my opinion these backing vocals worked very well. When I heard in late '97 that the Nits were reforming with two new female members I was already familiar with the 'Swiss arrangement' and I hoped that they would play this song in this arrangement. Unfortunately they returned to the old arrangement, not that it's a bad version, but the new one sounded so cool... I think Laetitia could do a very good job on the lead vocals!
This song was originally written and performed by Bob Dylan. It wasn't played at all the concerts of this toour. Henk started it on acoustic guitar. The rest of the band joined in. Especially the 'saloon-piano' by Christian sounded great. Henk's fine singing sometimes imitated Bob Dylan. Schmidi sang the backing vocals in the 'I'll be your baby tonight' lines. Henk sometimes mumbled the lyrics a bit, probably due to forgetting them.. A cool bridge was played halfway thorugh, followed by a return to the verses. Next up was an electric guitar solo over a very cool saloon-piano backing. They returned to the vocals, but unfortunately the song was cut short, because the tape ran out, but I think most of the song was recorded. The end result was a very nice and loose rendition of this Dylan song.
This Nits classic was played in a version that was almost a copy of how the Nits played it between 1987 and 1996. Kimmo did an excellent Stips imitation. He used the same sounds and had the 'Mountains' and 'Buildings' samples available. Only during the slow 'lost a button' section he played it slightly different than Robert Jan did. After this section the band returned in a very loud way and remained on this high energy towards the end with the repetition of the 'mountains' samples.
'Played very much in the same manner than Nits usually played this during 1987 or 1995-6. The keyboard sounds were very Stips-like, with "mountains" and "buildings" sampled as well.'
This classic Nits song was started solo by Henk on the acoustic guitar. He was soon joined by Christian's organ touches. When Henk began singing the electric bass also joined. The first verse was sung in English, but suddenly Henk changed to the Dutch ver sion of the song. The Nits had performed this translation by Freek de Jonge in the Nest Tour. During the Dutch part the full band joined, including a very nice sounding electric rhythm guitar. The chorus featured English lyrics again, which remained so for the rest of the song. Christian also sang backing vocals. The instrumental section featured a keyboard solo. The ending sounded relaxed with ticking percussion, bass and an organ-like sound. Henk recited the two-line poem Freek de Jonge wrote over this (in English). This performance was particularly amazing, since it wasn't rehearsed, but was played spontaneously. Except for Henk, only Christian knew the original song! Schmidi and Chessy were not on stage during this performance. The others followed Henk and Christian with great results. The music was very loose, but was not too different from the way the Nits usually played it.
Walter Schäppi mentions this Bob Dylan song as one of the possible songs played at this tour.
This song by Sting was played at one of the concerts by Schmidi Shmidhauser on lead vocals and guitar.
This might be the same song. The song actually was already from 1992. Henk wrote it for his friend Eric Facon, who got married that year. Two years later another version appeared on Dutch singer Liesbeth List's self-titled album. Another Dutch singer, Frank Boeijen, had rewritten the lyrics in Dutch for this version, retitling it as 'Brief Aan Mia'. Henk decided to dig this one up for this tour and probably liked it so much that it also found its way to the Alankomaat album. Being a few years old, this song already was in a rather definite version. The music was quite similar to the later album version, with the slow synth, the main piano melody, percussion, acoustic and electric guitars and standing bass. It was a bit longer though. Chessy sang backing vocals. The electric guitar was mostly rather soft, but became more pronounced towards the end. Especially in the last instrumental minute or so, where it played the main melody as a solo. The song slowly ended with the drums, percussion, bass and the slow organ sound. The version in Luzern featured a very long intro with fragments of 'Nescio' and several cover tunes. See the 'Nescio' entry for more details. This song might have been called 'the Wedding' at the time.
At the first concerts this beautiful song was started by Henk solo on the guitar, but very soon he was joined by the percussionist. When he started singing, the accordion and electric guitar joined, soon followed by the drums and the bass. Later in the tour the song was started by Henk on guitar, after which the bass and the vocals came in. The electric guitar and the piano joined later. The drums and percussion didn't start until the chorus. The electric guitar carried the main melody of the song. For the chorus Chessy Weaver sang backing vocals and the electric piano appeared. The drums and percussion became somewhat more prominent as well. The music was more or less a slow, hypnotic groove. The song didn't have the strong build-up that later live versions would have, but it still was impressive. The instrumental end featured the groove with several touches by the different instruments. The snare drum increased its speed until the song ended.
'A masterpiece. As beautiful as REM's Electrolite, as mystic as Led Zeppelin's No Quarter, as stunning as Nits' Mourir Avant 15 Ans. Interesting lyrics, beautifully rippling electric piano, fine guitar and female background vocal parts. If this arrangement ever surfaces on a Nits/Henk record, it ranks among the very best Henk has ever done.'
Rob started this song on drums, soon joined by the bass and the guitar. Some ambient low synths entered a bit later and finally Henk began singing. The synth provided continuous 'thick' textures. There were no backing vocals during this version. The whole version remained rather sub-dued, except for the last few minutes where the song featured an exellent build-up in intensity led by Rob. He began to use more and more snares and inserted cymbal crashes until the song ended.
'I can't praise enough this great song. Minimalistic opening a la REM's One I Love renditions by Henk, but in the end Rob is hitting very hard... Very dynamic.'
This started out with the drums, soon all instruments joined. The drummer used brushes for his drumming, there was electric and acoustic guitar, bass, ticking percussion and a soft organ. For the Bern version there were also some 'rubber band' sounds coming from the keyboards, which are missing from the compilation version. Henk's singing was rather subdued. There were some extra lyrics like 'you keep driving faster/ but no-one can reach you' and the order of the lyrics also deviated. The music became increasingly faster. A nice cymbal crash introduced an instrumental middle section. This was actually nothing much more than the same backing music as before with some chord changes for the Bern version. On the compilation version a soft organ solo was introduced. Another cymbal crash brought the song back to the vocal section. A bright sounding synth joined late into the song. Near the end the music became softer and softer, with several instruments dropping out. Henk whispered the last vocals and the drums, percussion and a piano were the last ones to play.
'Lovely little song a la Sugar River. It is (of course) played "quieter and quieter".'
Henk and Rob were playing with the idea to tour the Alankomaat album as a duo, but eventually decided against it. This version of 'louder and louder' sounded how this mght have sounded, since it was performed by just the two of them as an encore to their short performance on the Helsinki festival. Henk started by playing the guitar line. Rob entered on drums. The result was a very simple, but beautiful rendition of this song. It featured Rob on backing vocals and some off-mike singing by Henk at a few points. The song ended with just Henk on gutiar and vocals. Exquisite is probably a nice word to describe this performance.
'Just Henk and Rob on the stage. A quiet, warm little ending number.'
This was not really a planned song. Not even a rehearsed one... At the last concert of the tour the intro to 'Letter to E' was started (the long orchestral synth sound) and it apparently reminded Henk of the similar intro to Nescio. He then started to sing a few lines of Nescio in a funny voice. Christian, the keyboard player, responded with some piano lines from the song, which caused Henk to sing some more Nescio lines. After Henk talked about a few things, Jiri, the bass player, started to play the bassline and Christian started to play the very famous, but cheesy, piano theme of the movie 'Love Story'. Henk began to sing the lyrics to this ('where will I begin and where will I end'), which he expanded into some lines about the end of the tour. This was really the start of an improvised medley. The piano melody then returned for a while ('I always wanted to play this'). Fragments of several other songs were sung and played following this. It started with one line from the Moody Blues classic 'Nights in White Satin' , followed by the hiphop/rap standard 'Don't Push Me, cuz I'm Close To The Edge'. Henk whispered the title and Chessy added some appropriate ' Ah-hah-hah's. In the background a harmony of 'Night Fever' by the Bee Gees was started, followed by a very small fragment of 'the New York Mining Disaster, 1941' ('In the event of something happening to me'), also by the Bee Gees. This led into a discussion about the Bee Gees, dentists and Freddy Mercury.. At this time the music still was based on the intro of 'Letter to E', but several other things happened, like bass variations and organ touches. The next song in the 'medley' was 'Nathalie' by Gilbert Bécaud, of which a whole verse was sung, ending with Henk singing in a fake French rumbling voice. This was followed by a very short fragment of 'Tous Les Garçons Et Les Filles De Mon Age' by Françoise Hardy. While they were on the subject of French artists Henk asked the audience if they remembered Michel Polnareff. Apperently several people did, as well as some Shoppers, because they started playing his 1966 song 'La Poupée Quit Fait Non'. For this they deviated from the 'Letter to E' music and played as close to the original as they could remember with drums, guitar, bass and organ. The ogan touches caused Henk to name the R.E.M. song 'Man on the Moon', to which it was indeed a bit simialr. The music returned to 'Letter to E'. Some more talking followed and finally after almost 8 minutes they started to play and sing 'Letter to E'.
Eric Facon adds the following:
'One almost had the feeling they didn't want the tour to end. If you listen closely, there's Andi Hug sitting down at the drums, getting up and switching to mandolin, then running back to the drums - he didn't really know what to do - as did nobody else.'
This beautiful song from the 'Giant Normal Dwarf' album was performed solo by Henk on piano and vocals. The song became very intimate and beautiful in this simple arrangement. Henk varied his vocals excellently, with softer and louder parts. The piano playing in the instrumental parts was very full sounding. At one concert, after the song ended the Shoppers all started rattling cowbells for a while. This song ended several concerts.
This isn't actually another song, but a variation on 'Pictures of the Gone World', as it happened in Basel. It had the same music, except during the last verse Henk started improvising new lyrics on the spot, because a dog walked on stage. Eric Facon explains what exactly happened:
'A Collie dog walked out on stage and stayed there watching the two (Henk and Oli) perform. His name is Aku and he's very affectionate and a bit wild. He belongs to Sonja Kräuliger, a good friend of mine who comes from Bern and went to visit a friend in Basel and ended up at the concert'
Although it all turned out a bit messy and with a lot of laughing, the new lyrics were quite funny.
This song was inspired by a visit of Henk to the Einstein House in Bern. This place reminded Henk of the book 'Einstein's Dreams' by Alan Lightman, an American physisc professor, especially about a chapter 'where there's no time, just images'.
The following description comes from a webpage concerning this book:
The dreams Mr. Lightman has given his
fictional Einstein also deal with the mysteries of space and time, but they have little to
do, for the inexperienced reader anyway, with the technicalities of quantum theory and
everything to do with the human condition and its time-ridden existence.
In each dream, Mr. Lightman postulates a different world in which time obeys different rules, rules that have a direct impact on human psychology and behavior. In an acausal world, where cause and effect are not connected through time, artists are joyous because "unpredictability is the life of their paintings, their music, their novels." Everyone here lives in the moment, and since the present has little effect on the future, few people pause to think about the consequences of their actions.
On the web there also exists an interactive version of this book, which looks pretty good.
Usually this song had a long introduction by Henk about his travels through Bern and Switzerland and his visit to the Einstein House and the book. For some reason this often resulted in very funny stories, although the song itself was rather serious sounding. Musically it was rather simple, just Henk on vocals, accompanied by Oli on electric guitar. He played a continuous 'revolving' theme throughout the song. Henk's very poetic lyrics went as follows:
There's a child on a beach
There's a man in a street
And I cannot remember you
No, I cannot remember you
There are roses in a river
There's a woman in a room
But I cannot remember you
No, I cannot remember you
There's a painting on a wall
There's a woman in a room
But I cannot remember you
No, I cannot remember you
The song was rather short, but impressive nonetheless. It could have worked very well on Alankomaat I think. The version in Basel was very funny and is described at the 'Pictures of a Dog' entry above.
This was another prenatal Alankomaat song that debuted during the Amsterdam-Bern Connection concerts. Musically this version was the most 'Nitsy' song. It could have fitted straight away on 'dAdAdA', it sounds a bit like the song 'Dreams' from that album. Henk played prominent acoustic guitar and Christian provided some very Stips-like 'pumping' synths, which sounded a bit like the ones on 'Rhythm of the Rain'. Throughout the song there were several electric (slide-)guitar touches. The vocals were sung in the same way as on the released version, but there was one slight lyrics change. Instead of the 'Niagallafniar Rain' part the lyrics 'It never never ever ends' were sung. The chorus featured Chessy on backing vocals. This very nice version of this song ended with several weird synth sounds, with some guitar and bass and Henk naming all the musicians.
This song was not as 'dA dA dA' like anymore as on the Amsterdam-Bern Connection, but it still wasn't as tight as on the Alankomaat album. It still featured a prominent acoustic guitar. Henk's singing was rather Dylan-like. Rob sang backing harmonies in the horus, which still featured the 'It never ever ever ends' lines instead of the 'Niagallafniar Rain' lyrics. The song ended with just Henk on guitar and vocals and a low synth and some cymbal noises by Rob. This song sounded very much like a demo version.
'Too simple when you hear it first time, but it gets deeper and deeper... A really beautiful little pop song. The melody reminds me of King Of Belgium; verse part is based on G chord with Henk delivering vocals in his best Dylan manner... :-)'
This was the 'soul-version' of the song. Over a full band backing, exept the keyboards, Henk explained the story of the song (a sequel to the movie 'the Graduate' where Benjamin goes to visit Mrs. Robinson again after 30 years). The lyrics of the song were partly made up by fragments of Paul Simon songs (who did the soundtrack for the original movie). These lyrics had to be changed for the Alankomaat album due to copyright problems. After Henk's introduction the music continued in the same way, now also with acoustic guitar and keyboard touches. Henk started singing the lyrics over this funky groove. The electric guitar was especially effective. For the 'She is almost 82' part a keyboard marimba sound was added, which sounded quite nice. The 'dub-dub-dub-..' backing vocals were sung by pretty much everybody on stage. An instrumental part featured an electric piano solo. Henk also sang some extra lyrics that would not appear in later versions of the song.The music remained very much the same thoughout. Although it was repetetive, it actually never got boring.
'This won't ever get recorded because the lyric is basically a completed rip off of Simon & Garfunkel's greatest hits. :-) Parsley, sage and rosemary, one-night stands... It's all there. :-) A song about Graduate movie's male star meeting Mrs. Robinson again. The doo-doo-doo style chorus is excellent. This would be a well received gig number for sure, the whole thing is so catchy.'
This song featured the original Paul Simon-inspired lyrics. Henk explained the story of the song and while he did so the drums and keyboards started playing. The keyboard sound was a bright and 'soft' marimba-like sound. After a while the bass and guitar also joined. The song wasn't as 'static' or funky as during the ABC. It remained much more low-key, especially the vocals in the beginning of the song. Later on it all became a bit more enthusiastic. The 'dub'dub-..' part was sung just by Henk and featured a busy drumrhythm behind it. The guitar dropped in and out a few times during the song. After the song seemingly ended the band continued with one more reprise of the 'dub-dub-..' section. The end result of this song was that it was not as spectacular as it later would become or as funky as it was during the Amsterdam-Bern Connection.
'More experimenting than in the Switzerland 96 tapes. I think this was better as a simple pop song... This Helsinki version brought in some Touch Of H.M. style avantgardening.'
This song debuted in a very long version, lasting almost 10 minutes. The song started straightaway with the full band. The bass played the main melody of the later released version as the bass-line. The electric guitar played bluesy touches throughout and there was an electric piano, which had a solo in the intro. The whole song the usic remained in a very rhythmic and bluesy groove. Henk spoke and sang the lyrics alternatingly. The spoken parts weren't fixed yet. Although they told the same story about Henk's Finnish friend Seppo, he improvised a lot of parts. It included some Finnish language quotes from the song 'Yöpöllö', a translation of 'Night Owl'. The music changed a little bit for the sung parts. CW did backing vocals, Henk played acoustic guitar and Christian played very good sounding organ parts that fitted the song perfectly. Near the end of this long song the band 'faded out', but came back with a powerful build up to do the chorus once more.
'A song about Seppo "Yopollo" Pietikainen in a state of Helsinki blues. All Finns would love this because Henk's Finnish imitation. Audience laughs and Henk tells: "I'll tell you next year what that means. It's so hard, the Finnish language." The song's chorus is very catchy with great guitar licks.'
Compared to the Amsterdam-Bern Connection, this song had been shortened to Alankomaat length. Many parts of the spoken lyrics had been shortened or removed, including unfortunately the Finnish spoken parts. The spoken parts also were more fixed and featured less improvisation. The music was similar to the album, but a bit more dark, moody and empty sounding. This was mainly due to the electric piano touches, which made it sound a bit like the Doors' 'Riders on the Storm'. The song was started with the drums, bass and guitar. Kimmo inserted windy noises and the electric piano touches and melodies. A shot piano solo was played in the intro. He also added other atmospheric noises, as well as some low synth sounds. The song featured alternating spoken and sung parts. The music was a bit more full sounding during the sun parts. There were no backing vocals. The result was a moody and interesting version of this song.
'Very well received, since Helsinki is mentioned in the song. Stop The Shoppers' soul guitar licks I missed... This was played very slow and featured exciting "snowy Helsinki" soundscapes from keyboards, reminding me 22-Pistepirkko's masterpiece Snowy Dave. A song's story was shortened, no Finnish language imitation from Henk anymore...'
The story about the three sisters losing their parents in the Zoo debuted at the Swiss concerts. The lyrics were the same as on the later released version, but the music was slightly different. It sounded a bit fuller and it was more or less a busy, but strong and rhythmic groove in a '70s sort of style. From the start all instruments played. The excellent bass was very prominent throughout the song. Henk played the acoustic guitar, but the electric guitar was the most to the front throughout the song. Chessy Weaver sang backing vocals. An instrumental section in the middle of the song featured a very cool bass solo, based on the main melody. During the end section a solo was played on the electric piano.
'Nescio-like rhythm, Cohen-like otherwise. Quite interesting.'
This version was much closer to the released Alankomaat version than at the ABC performances. The band began playing the backing groove straightaway, allthough it sounded a bit 'shakey' here and here. As with most songs in Helsink, the drums were very much to the front. The synth provided some ambient sounds, as well as a sort of choir sound and piano-like sounds. The bass was rather soft. The whole song was a bit sad sounding. Rob sang backing vocals and Henk played a bit of acoustic guitar here and there. During the 'Mother where are you' parts a mandolin-like sound was played on the synth. All in all this version wasn't too different from the released version, except that it sounded a lot rougher.
'Rob was singing high backing vocals part here. This worked well, the song is quite laconic and doesn't need any gimmicks in the arrangement. Reminds me of Long Forgotten Story.'
This Nits classic was part of this tour in a rather unusual, but great version. The song started out with busy percussion (rim shots played very fast by Andi Hug), which sounded very nice. The main melody was played with the typical keyboard sound for this song, although it sounded a little bit different this time. The electric guitar played continuous rhythm-lines throughout the song, which changed a couple of times during the song. The drums also entered with the usual abstract sounding rhythm. The electric bass linbes were the same as on the original. During the song, mostly in the instrumental parts, different effects and noises were played on the guitar and keyboards. Shmidi Schmidhauser sang backing vocals during the verses. The chorus was played in this version and was sung by Chessy Weaver and Henk. As with many songs Stop the Shoppers got into a groove during the song, which worked very well for this song. The second instrumental part was very long and very good. It feautred rhythmic handclaps, various keyboard and guitar noises and cool percussion and drums. After a few minutes the keyboard theme returned and so did the vocals. The song ended soon after this. The total length of this very experimental version was somewhere between 7 and 8 minutes.
This was a very cool version of this Nits hit. Over a percussion only intro Henk would tell about his train travels through Switzerland and about how Mr. Marklin and Mrs. Fleischmann had a child together called Minitrix (all these names are brands of model trains). Henk then introduced this song as 'the Minitrix version of the Train'. The band then started playing it in a very happy sounding and upbeat way. The main melody was played by Schmidi Schmidhauser on a toy glockenspiel and Christian played some whistle sounds on the keyboard, distorting them to sound like a steam train whistle. On the version on the compilation tape Henk forgets the lyrics for the first verse, so he tries again succesfully a little bit later. For the sung parts Christian changed to electric piano. Henk played the acoustic guitar in the way he normally does for this song. The train whistle and marimba parts returned regularly. Late on in the song a short solo was played with the whistle sound. The song ended in a slow way, but continued straightaway with a drumm roll. The instrumental music returned for about a minute, until some weird keyboard noises really ended this very nice version of this song.
This is very likely an alternate title for 'Letter to E'. Walter Schäppi mentioned this in his Nits Overview.
-Bern 9-11-96 (incomplete audience tape, also Walter Schäppi's Nits
-Amsterdam-Bern Connection - Live Compilation (Soundboard compilation from all concerts. Not for trade, sorry.)
-Helsinki 4-9-97 (audience tape, including the Rinneradio encore)
-Freek de Jonge & Stips - Rhapsodia (2 CD live recording of the
Paradiso concert from **-**97)
-De Dijk - single containing Blind Willy McTell, recorded at 'De Plantage' on **-**97)
-A lot of comments, background information and newspaper clippings by Eric Facon. Thanks Eric!
Nits Mailing List Reports:
Paul Telman (anouncements), Steve Groom (concert review), Adrian Haessig (concert review), Suonna Kononen (tape review), Simone Janssen (tape review).
Paul Telman (anouncements), Suonna Kononen, Johan Finell, Harri Heinonen, Teemu Korpipa, Tuomas Eirola, Pekka Manninen, Jussi Keinonen (all pre- or post-concert reports or other information)
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