Summer Concerts (1987)


first published: 15-05-98 / last update: 21-10-04


This wasn't a real tour, but more like a series of separate concerts, mostly at festivals, between the Henk tour and the 'In the Dutch Mountains' tour. The concerts themselves were more or less based on the Henk tour, but with several interesting song changes. Also Petra Lugtenburg, who did backing vocals and keyboards during the Henk tour had left. The Nits would record the new album 'In The Dutch Mountains' at the end of the summer and some of the new songs already pop up during the concerts. 


Petra Lugtenburg left after the Henk tour and the four remaining musicians continued, with Joke now as an official Nits member. These four would play together until the 1989 Urk tour. After that tour Joke had to retire because of a muscle disease.

Henk Hofstede: lead vocals, guitar, banjo, whistle.
Rob Kloet: drums, percussion, backing vocals.
Robert Jan Stips: keyboards, backing vocals.
Joke Geraets: electric and standing bass, backing vocals, banjo, bike bell, tamborine, acoustic guitar or mandolin on one song.


I haven't seen any pictures from these concerts, but because they were mostly played at festivals I doubt they had an extensive stage setup. Walter Schäppi confirms this. The Pihtipudas video shows that Rob (on the left) and Robert Jan (on the right) were facing each other, while Joke and Henk were standing in the front.


The setlists were similar to the Henk tour, but with some important changes. Some songs were dropped and some new, unreleased songs were added. The band went to the studio at the end of the summer and the concerts have the same sound and atmosphere as the 'In The Dutch Mountains' album. Some of the new songs were played in a different version than they would release. 'In The Dutch Mountains' had some lyrics changes, 'Pelican & Penguin' initially had completely different lyrics and was named 'Big Yellow Penguin Rooster'. 'Rhythm Of The Rain' wouldn't be released until the 'Quest' album, 'Yksi Kaksi Kolme' went on to become the b-side of 'J.O.S. Days' and 'Strangers Of The Night' is a very stripped down early version. 'Good Night' was the only song that didn't change too much and that ended up on the album. Only four concerts from this period circulate among collectors, so it might be possible some other old or new songs were played at other concerts. Walter Schäppi saw this tour and says:
'A 45 minute festival set of quite an unknown band must be a mixture of songs from the current LP and the greatest hits. The Nits' setlist was a provocation, but they succeeded in every way!'

Overview of all the (known) songs played:

Adieu, Sweet Bahnhof

This was played at the Paléo festival in Nyon. It is not present at any of the other circulating concerts. It was played in the usual way with Joke and Rob starting the song, soon joined by Henk's guitar and Robert Jan's synth-accordion and piano touches.

Big Yellow Penguin Rooster

This was 'Pelican And Penguin' with different lyrics. In about a month Henk would rewrite the lyrics to the ones we know. Although the lyrics were different, the music was almost the same as the version on the 'In The Dutch Mountains' album, including the rooster samples. The song is very nice to hear in this version, although the later lyrics are better and more clever. The lyrics to this version are:

I was working this morning
with this sound in my head
there was a big yellow rooster
and I thought he was dead

big yellow rooster
you were breaking my heart
you will tear up my face
and you were (an early to start)

I was playing this morning
with this sound in my head
and a big yellow rooster
and I thought he was dead

oh big yellow rooster
you are breaking this heart
my heart feels like a hammer
and a hammer hits my head

oh I feel so sad
and the rooster feels so bad
he's gonna hurt me now
and it's gonna hurt (me again)

big yellow rooster
you are breaking my heart
(mumble mumble mumble
more Henk mumbling)

The lyrics (between brackets) are hard to understand. At the later Nyon cocnert part of the lyrics were already as on the released version, while at the Margraten concert all the lyrics were as they were on the In The Dutch Mountains albu.

Bike In Head

The intro was played with several drum effects, while Henk explained the song. Robert Jan provided an elephant sound sample. After this we get the bike bells (played by Joke), guitar and the strange piano lines. From here on the song was played in the regular way, close to the Urk version.


This song was played as it was played most of the time, similar to the Urk version or to the live version that was released on the b-side of the 'Cabins' single. It started out with just acoustic guitar, vocals and some percussion. The weird synth sounds entered soon and the song was played completely through, before it ended with the classical ending, followed by a few extra bars for a few seconds. Walter Schäppi adds: 'A perfect opener for a festival. The audience reaction was very wild throughout the song. This concert was the big breakthrough in Switzerland.'


This eerie song about a childhood memory from Henk was played not too different from the Henk tour's version. The banjo, the keyboards and the bass played the melody in the intro. The rest of the song was very bass-heavy. The keyboard provided the melody and some appropriate touches here and there. In the first instrumental part there were no keyboards, but in later instrumental parts Robert Jan joined the rest of the band. The instrumental ending was dominated by Henk's guitar. Walter Schäppi adds: 'What a great riff. As with 'Tons Of Ink' I didn't realize that before this concert. (Tons was a new song for me until I rediscovered it on Omsk!) With this heavier/rougher and more direct version it's a perfection working out the essence of the song.'

Erom On

This song was never one of my favorites, until I heard a live version of it. It was, to my knowledge, only played at the Henk tour and these summer concerts, which is unfortunate, because it came very much alive during live performances. Luckily it was rediscovered during the Wool tour and made a very welcome return for a short while. Weird sounds similar to the dAdAdA tour's 'Bilbao Boa' intro, started out the song. The bass and the drum locked into a tight groove that was kept up for the rest of the song. Robert Jan continued to make weird bell-type sounds, throughout the song. At times Rob played his cymbals and drums with a distortion effect on them so that they sounded like backwards recordings. The spectacular instrumental part of the song kept up the whole weird feel to this song. Henk's guitar touches, but especially the powerful bass made this version much heavier (and better!) than the original, but the main structure of the song remained similar.

Good Night

The music was guitar only with 4-part harmonized vocals. It was actually not too different from the album version. It only sounded a lot less smooth. It had less voices, no echo on the vocals and no fade-in or fade-out. It was also somewhat shorter. The four vocals sounded very nice together, only a few times they went slightly out of tune..

Home Before Dark

In later versions Robert Jan mostly played this song on the accordion, but for this tour he was still playing the song on the keyboards. He used some ambient and bell sounds, similar to the album version, but varied a little bit now and then. Joke provided backing vocals. Rob's lovely percussion playing sounded simple, but was extremely effective. This song always features great emotional vocal and guitar work by Henk and rightfully still is a concert favorite with the band and with the fans.

In The Dutch Mountains

If this tour has to remembered for one thing, it should be that it was the debut of this classic nits song. It still is the most popular Nits song, causing very enthusiastic reactions from audiences all over Europe. For this tour the song was still unreleased, so the audience reactions were much quieter. The song itself was also a little bit different from the later released and live versions. It was played very slow, but the main structure was already there. The intro consisted of bass, guitar and percussion, the keyboards followed later. The most noticable differences were some lyrics changes. 

Mychael Gerstenberger transcribed the lyrics for the original version of this song from the Pihtipudas concert:

I was born in a valley of bricks
Where the river runs higher than the rooftops grow
I was watching the cars coming home late at night
Coming from the Dutch mountains.

As a child I was afraid of the lights
Streaming through the doors in the middle of the night
I was looking at the cars coming home every night
They came from the Dutch mountains
In the Dutch mountains

Met a woman in a valley of stone
She had a house and she was calling it her home
I was sleeping in a room with no table and no chair
In the Dutch mountains
In the Dutch mountains

No-one's walking the streets tonight
No-one's talking by the heat tonight
I was standing in a house with no lights, no no
In the Dutch mountains
In the Dutch mountains

I was born in a valley of bricks
Where the river runs higher than the rooftops grow
I was looking at the cars coming home late at night
Coming from the Dutch mountains
In the Dutch mountains

The Margraten version is musically and lyrically the closest to the released version, but  the lyrics still had some differences (the second verse and the slow middle part were as above, the first, third and last verses were already as on the album). The song ended the same as on the album, although the yodeling part sounded a little bit different on the Margraten version. All in all a very interesting listen and definitely one of the reasons to track down a tape from this small tour.


This song more or less faded in from Home Before Dark. It was just a standard nescio with the fast ending. Robert Jan and Joke sang the lead vocals in the last section of the English part. The Margraten version takes a while to get going, when Robert Jan's synth stopped working. It's fixed quite soon and the song got properly on its way.

Pelican And penguin

Only the music to this song was played at the early concerts, see 'Big Yellow Penguin Rooster' for a description of the lyrics changes. The music was played somewhat faster. The Nyon concert featured a hybrid between the lyrics Big Yellow Penguin Rooster and the forthcoming P&P, the beginning is close to the released version, while the second half is much like the older one. The Margraten version has the complete 'Pelican & Penguin' lyrics as on the album. It's nice to hear how the lyrics progressed during the tour, while the music was already established.

Port Of Amsterdam

This song was played very similar to the album version. It wasn't as extravagant and weird as it would get a year or two later. The intro was just guitar and percussion, without Robert Jan ad-libbing strange keyboard parts, although at some points in the song it can be heard that the song would become stranger in the future with Robert Jan taking some liberties with the melodies. In Margraten the song had a short instrumental reprise after it was played that formed the perfect bridge to 'Strangers Of The Night'.

The Potato Eaters

This song was played very regularly between 1986 and 1989. It was released as a b-side to 'Sleep (What Happens To Your Eyes) and later it was available on Quest. Before they started to play this song Henk would usually explain it was written by their friend from Texas about the Vincent van Gogh painting with the same name. Somehow I doubt this but it's a nice story... Anyhow, the result is a Nits-style fast country & western song, Nits style. Henk played the banjo during this song. Robert Jan also played some banjo sounds on his keyboards among other things. It's a mostly instrumental song, with just a few lines lyrics. The live version of this song was longer and heavier than the studio album. During the intro Robert Jan would regularly shout 'Ja!' and during the outro he sang 'who did? - you did!'. Joke sang backing vocals and played tamborine during this song, the bass-line was played by Robert Jan on the synth.

Rhythm of the rain

This song was written and recorded for the 'In The Dutch Mountains' album, but it was not included. It also wasn't released as a b-side, but after about a year of 8 it finally saw the light of day on Quest. The song itself was played during this and the following tour and after it was released also at the Nest Tour. The song itself is a bit dark sounding tune, that has vocals about the weather. A strong bass and steady drums open it. Robert Jan played a low sound as an extra rhythm part. He also provided some other touches and sound effects. Henk played some guitar parts and his singing was rather loose and had some prominent echoes added to it.

The Singing telegram

Another left-over from the Henk tour. It was played almost exactly like on the previous tour. The intro was with guitar, with the bass, percussion and synth effects entering a little later. From the chorus on Robert Jan played the driving synth parts of the song.

Sketches of Spain

This song was played in its regular way. Besides noting that Robert Jan and Joke did backing vocals I have no other particular things to say about this tour's version of this song.  

Strangers Of The Night

Only the Margraten concert has this song. It was very likely written very close before the concert. The song quite naturally followed after a short instrumental reprise of 'Port Of Amsterdam', which shows how similar the guitar parts for these songs are, the chords seem to be the same, only the accents and rhythm is slightly different. Henk started it by himself, when he started singing Rob joined him. Robert Jan's jazzy piano entered as well quite soon. The music, including the louder instrumental parts, were the same as on the released version, but the distorted low vocals are missing. The version was a bit shorter and sounded a bit more straight than on the album, but already had the nice alternation between the soft and loud parts. It more or less segued into Tutti Ragazzi.

Tons Of ink

The song started out with the band (except Joke) yelling 'Yo-oh-oh' with a lot of echo. The audience followed the band, which sounded very cool (even when in Margraten mentions that it's not the intention to sing along...). It lasted quite a while and tended to sound somewhat messy during the intro, but when the bass and drums started the song became very tight. Henk sang the lead vocals, while Rob and Robert Jan (and the audience) continued their 'Yo-oh-oh' chants. Rob also sang some backing parts in the chorus. For the rest the song wasn't too different from the original or the Urk version. After an instrumental part the song ended with an explosion-type of sound and (a part of) the audience kept on singing.

The Vermillion Pencil

This was played at the Paleo festival in Nyon. It has a longer intro, with a quote from a tv or movie theme I haven't identified yet, and slightly different rhythm. Robert Jan plays around freely with piano lines throughout the song. This version is one of the best and most exiting of this song. It is not present at any of the other circulating concerts.

Tutti Ragazzi

This is only on the Margraten recording. It more or less segued out of 'Strangers Of The Night' with a slow distorted synth sound that morphed into the typical 'Tutti Ragazzi' sound. The song was played quite straightforward. It lacked the busy backing vocals of the Henk Tour. The bass-line was played on a synth (it's unclear if it was Robert Jan or Joke who played this). Joke added some backing vocals in the chorus. Henk added a bit of extra guitar here and there and Robert Jan played around with the synth sound a bit in some parts. It's nice to hear this song in this tour, because it would take several years before it was played again.

Woman Cactus

The band was introduced over the intro. After Henk had said a name that band member would enter the song. Henk himself was introduced by Robert Jan. The song itself was played as usual between 1986 and 1989 and close to the original, although there was a bit more guitar. Henk's lead vocals were followed immediately by his own echo. So every line was heard twice. Robert Jan played a lot of bell sounds and during the weird keyboard part of the song Henk would do the high vocals.

Yksi Kaksi Kolme

This instrumental tune was released as the b-side to 'J.O.S. Days'. Henk mentioned that they wrote it in Helsinki half a year earlier. The song initially had no title, but it was ultimately named after the Finnish words for 'One Two Three'. The song was played similar to the released version. It started out with a ticking drum. The rest of the song was a synth-driven, hyperactive and jumpy folk tune. Halfway through the kick drum started and this gave the song some power. Among the many sounds heard were busy whistle sounds played by Henk on a small flute that also are present on the original. The only vocal was near the end and it was nothing more than the word 'hey' with a lot of echo. Joke played the banjo during this song!! Walter Schäppi has the following extra info: 'Flute (whistle sounds) played by Henk. A Mick Jagger imitation by Henk: He was running from one side of the stage to the other. When he passed the mike he played the flute or shouted something. In Zürich '87, the stage was very small and full of monitors and instruments, so he had to be very careful!'