Work Tour (1981-1982)

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first published: 29-05-98 / last update: 27-07-99


This tour followed the Work album from 1981. The tour started in september 1981 and lasted until december 1982. The Nits played a lot of dutch concerts. Red tape had been a minor hit in the Netherlands, so this probably attracted new fans. They did a tour through West Germany and also went to Finland, Switzerland and France. At some concerts the Nits were opening act for Marianne Faithful. The concerts in Finland and Switzerland were the first of a long tradition of performances in these countries, which probably have the largest Nits fan population outside of Holland. A few recordings have survived from that period, all in rather good sound luckily. The best reference for this tour is the soundboard recording of the complete Zurich concert. The Rothenburg and Hamburg recordings are both between 45 and 50 minutes long, but are nice listens. It is a bit strange that there were no concerts available for a long time to tape traders from any of the dutch concerts! This has changed now, the Nits Archives have several concerts from this tour and one complete show I have heard by now: Haarlem 2-4-82. I have also heard an incomplete concert in Basel, both were similar to the Zürich concert though.


After the recording of this album and some concerts Alex couldn't stand the thought of another tour, so he quit. He left the music industry completely and later found work as a music professor at a university and produced a few bands. In 1989 a solo album, featuring some nice instrumental, ambient compositions, was released under the name ALX. The album was called Tenderness of Cranes. The rest hastily searched for a new bass player, but couldn't find one. Finally they asked their producer Robert Jan Stips to join them for the tour. Robert Jan already was a well-known keyboard player in the Netherlands, having played in Supersister, the Golden Earring, Sweet d'Buster, Transister and several solo projects. The idea was for Robert Jan to play the bass parts on the keyboards until a replacement could be found. The rest of course is history: Robert Jan didn't leave until 1996 and the Nits music went to completely different territories because of this!

Henk Hofstede: vocals, keyboards, guitar
Michiel Peters: vocals, guitar, trumpet
Rob Kloet: drums, vocals
Robert Jan Stips: keyboard bass, synth


Probably just the Nits on a stage with no special backdrops or anything. They might have chosen a look for the shows though, with the choice of their clothes or something else, but I have no info on this.

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Of course a lot of the songs from the Work album were played, but also songs from Tent and New Flat were present in the setlists. A lot of the Work songs were played in a sort of suite. This suite followed the same order as the Work album from 'the lodger' up to 'red tape'. In most concerts they skipped 'umbrella army' in the suite and played it at a different spot in the set. In Hamburg though, the complete suite was played in the right order. The Work suite was part of the second half of the show, while the first half concentrated on older songs from the first albums, with only 1 or 2 Work songs. Two songs from Robert Jan's 1981 solo album U.P. were also played and one two unreleased tunes, one of which (dark room) has never been released, while the other (indoor painting - outdoor sketching) went on to become a bonustrack on the Omsk cd. A beatles cover was played as well. The sound of the songs was much very solid, mainly due the keyboard bass, which tended to be much louder and to the front than the electric bass guitar. They moved away from the rock/new wave sound of the New Flat tour to formulate more and more their own sound. Also Robert Jan's style of playing and all the extra keyboard touches he provided elevate this tour high above the previous ones. In this tour the band really found a consistent and mature sound.

Songs played for the first time:

All of the older songs had been played in concert before. At the New Flat tour there were already some previews of Work songs: footprint, tables and chairs, red tape and empty room. So that makes the following songs debutants: hobbyland, umbrella army, slip of the tongue, hands of the watch, suddenly I met your face. Other Work tracks might have been played at other concerts, but I can't verify this. Two songs from the Robert Jan Stips solo album U.P. were played: wake up and how the west got lost (a bonustrack with the album). Indoor painting (outdoor sketching), was a new song, which was released as a bonustrack with the Omsk album. One cover tune by the Beatles was played: Komm gib mir deine Hand (German version of 'I wanna hold your hand', The english version might also have been played at this tour).

Songs played for the last time (so far):

This tour was the end station for most of the songs from the first albums. Also several songs from Work were never played again after this tour. The following songs I haven't heard of versions after 1982: bungalow, ping pong, safety in numbers, different kitchen, umbrella army, dark room, aloha drums, tables and chairs, Komm gib mir deine Hand, indoor painting (outdoor sketching).

Overview of all the (known) songs played:

Aloha Drums

This weird and spooky instrumental that ends the New Flat album was played this tour as an introduction to the suite of Work songs. It started out with wind sounds. The percussion and bass started out the tune, soon followed by the hawaiian sounds. The melody was played by Michiel on the guitar. The structure of the song was the same as the album version. All in all, a rather weird, but interesting song choice by the band.


This song from Tent was played louder than the original, with a lot of guitar throughout. The rhythm section was particularly tight and some nice keyboard touches made this version of the song sound very nice. Besides the guitar, Michiel also provided backing vocals. An extended instrumental part was added to the song. In this part the music became faster and faster, resulting in some chaos. After this part the 'middle of the road' lyrics returned before the song ended.

Dark Room

This song was never released by the Nits. I think it's a Nits original and not a cover and it was also already performed during the previous tour. Although it is more heavy than normal for the Nits it still sounds like a song they could have written, especially since many songs in the New Flat Tour were in this style. Henk sang lead vocals in this guitar rock song. In the chorus some enthousiastic organ melodies can be heard. This was already performed at the previous tour.

Different Kitchen

As on the album this song featured a drum computer. Actually it started out this version of the song. Unfortunately there was no live drumming on top of it as on the New Flat album and tour version. Some bass sounds, soft keyboards and guitar accompanied the soft singing of Henk in the mellow parts. In the loud parts Rob started drumming as the drum computer was turned off. Henk sang the 'different ..' lyrics very loud, almost shouting them. The keyboards and guitar also were much heavier in these parts. In the instrumental part Robert Jan played some weird synth effects, which we now can recognize as trademark stuff from him. Also a mellow guitar solo was played. The drum computer returned for the quiet parts. The song ended with the drum computer fading out.

Empty Room

This song was always played as the fourth song of the Work suite, coming straight out of 'hobbyland'. This song is one of the heaviest songs the Nits ever released and the live version lived up to the album version. The guitar intro was played over some low synth sounds. A driving and heavy keyboard bass and tight drums really started the song. Heavy guitars by Michiel and rough singing by Henk made it complete. The lyrics to this song are nothing special, so when the long instrumental part started the song really became great. In this part there was a cool keyboard/drum break with some low noises by Robert Jan's synth. The keyboard-heavy ending also was completely instrumental and worked up to a fitting climax.


This was played as part 2 of the Work suite. Unfortunately the Zurich tape there is an ugly edit just before this song, so it's missing from that tape. The other two concert luckily have it in its full glory. It was played similar to the album with a strong bass and drums groove. Lots of complicated sounding keyboard sounds were all over the song. The ending featured different music than the Work version. Instead of the orchestral ending of the album, now a semi-long new keyboard theme was introduced, which fitted the song perfectly. Since it was already played this way during the New Flat Tour I guess this is the original ending of the song, but they changed it for the album version.

Hands of the Watch

Only the Rothenburg tape has this song. Unfortunately no other versions are known on tapes that circulate among collectors. This is especially a shame because that one version is great! The body of this eery and atmospheric song was made up by Michiel playing some beautiful long feedback guitarnotes. The piano delivered the intro and touches throughout the song. Rob played some sparse percussion and Henk's vocal performance was impressive. Robert Jan and Michiel provided some backing vocals. The instrumental ending of the song segued into 'office at night'. The Rothenburg show is worth getting for this song alone, the excellent musicianship on this song makes this one of my favorite live songs of the early Nits and it seems to foreshadow the musicality and subtility the band would achieve in later years.

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The familiar piano intro started of this song as the third one in the Work suite. Michiel, who wrote this nice song, sang lead vocals and played some guitar. Henk provided the backing vocals and played the melodies on the piano. Robert Jan provided strong, but sparse keyboard bass. Towards the end in the harmony part the vocals are done by Michiel, Henk and Robert Jan together.

Holiday On Ice

This song opened the show. It started out with the drums, keyboard bass and synth effects. The keyboard bass was very prominent throughout the song. The keyboard melodies were rather spooky and Michiel added some beat guitar in some parts. This is one of the New Flat songs that already has a rather full sound on the album, so although it sounded heavier this tour it wasn't as extreme as with some other songs.

Hook of Holland

This very atmospheric song started out with echo-y percussion by Rob, soon joined by some slow and weird keyboard sounds. In the beginning of the song the melody was played mainly on the guitar, with some slow keyboards present as well. From the first chorus the kick drum started and the melody was taken over by the keyboards. The guitar only provided some touches in the rest of the song. From the 'there's a girl from Switzerland' part Henk started playing an echo-y sound on the piano. Towards the end this sound got more and more distorted, eventually ending the song with these alienating sounds.

How The West Got Lost

This song can be found as a bonustrack on the Robert Jan Stips solo album U.P. U.P. by the way is a rather nice and diverse album released the same year as Work. There is some Nits involvement on the album (especially on this song, which has the Nits as the backing band!) and all of the songs have that typical Robert Jan Stips sound, that would be part of the Nits sound in the near future. Robert Jan rereleased this song (with lyrics) as the b-side to the Stips single 'she was naked'. He also performed it live in the Stips Egotrip tour. The song itself is an instrumental wild west song. It wouldn't sound bad in a western movie. It reminds me of the Frank Zappa song 'theme from lumpy gravy', which is in the same style and has a similar melody. The jumpy drums and surf guitar are the backing to a lot of synth melodies. Rob provided whip sounds! In the bridge the keyboard parts are very nice. This song segued into Komm gib mir deine Hand.

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(C) Morris

Indoor painting (outdoor sketching)

This song was still unreleased during the Work tour. The studio version was eventually released as a bonustrack with the Omsk cd. This song segued in the live version out of Komm gib mir deine Hand with some cool whip sounds by Rob. The arrangement of the song was much heavier than the later released version. Especially the forceful keyboard bass was all over the place. The melody was played with the keyboards and a strange sounding guitar. The song's lyrics deal with art, especially the 'ceci n'est pas une pipe' painting by Margritte. After the 'ceci n'est pas une pipe' lyrics have begun Rob started using his full drumkit in the song. The lyrics to this mostly instrumental song were all sung by Henk. On the album the lead vocals are shared with Robert Jan. He and Michiel only sang with Henk in the harmony parts (the actual 'indoor painting - outdoor sketching' lyrics). A nice break with some incredibly cool, almost percussive keyboard sounds by Robert Jan similar to the released version was also present. Towards the end more weird sounds entered the song, before it segued straight into tutti ragazzi.

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I Want To Hold Your Hand

The german translation of this Beatles song (Komm gib mir deine Hand) was played. I'm not aware of any english language version, not even in non-german speaking countries, but it might have been done.

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Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand

This is a German language version of the Beatles' song 'I want to hold your hand'. The Beatles themselves released 2 german versions of their songs in 1964, this one and 'Sie liebt dich' (She loves you). The Nits played this song even in non-german speaking countries. The Nits' German pronounciation was at least a lot better than the Beatles' original! The song segued out of 'how the west got lost'. It was split up into two parts. Not only was it the last song before the encores, it was also the first song of the encores! The first part was played rather faithful to the original but with some busier drums. The harmony vocals sounded nice though. After a short while the band ended the song and left the stage. After they returned they started playing the song again, but in a completely different arrangement. It was a very smooth and slow version, sounding a bit too slick for me, but interesting nonetheless. After one verse the tempo of the song increased and the playing got more intensive and when Rob started playing the whip sounds the song morphed into 'indoor painting (outdoor sketching)'.

the Lodger

This song opened the Work album and in the concerts it opened the Work suite. It started out with just the drums over which some horror-keyboard sounds were played. Further on the song was played with the keyboard sounding very loud, but still very similar to the album version. The lyrics of the song are almost certainly inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's movie of the same name. It was one of Hitchcock's 1st movie and it was released in 1926.

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The Internet Movie Database describes it as:

'Highly stylized, and a good (if somewhat dated) plot, but thestudio-imposed ending is a disappointment, and clearly not a typical Hitchcock tone.'

E-online describes it as:

'Hitchcock's first film centers around a series of Jack the Ripper-like murders, and suspicion that a strange hotel guest is the culprit.'

New Flat

This was played much heavier than before with loud guitar by Michiel and keyboards by Henk and Robert Jan. After about 30 seconds the song stopped and almost immediately continued, a small preview of the longer break that would happen the next tour. The tight drum break was played with much louder guitars than the album version. The lead vocals were of course done by Henk, with Michiel sing-shouting the 'new flat' words.In the ending some nice keyboard effects were present.

Office At Night

In this tour's version the first half of the song was played similar to the 'new flat' version. Henk sang the lead vocals and Michiel provided the 'and the light falls through the window..' lyrics. Keyboards were the main instruments and Rob provided a sparse drum backing. After Henk's last verse the song deviated from the album version. While on the album the Michiel lyrics are continued for a couple of more minutes with a lot of echo, in the live version this was replaced by a Michiel playing a real trumpet over a heavy bass backing and strong drums. A very intense atmosphere was created by the band this way. Henk ended the song with a loud cry of 'Oh!'. In Rothenburg the song segued out of the equally intense 'hands of the watch'.

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Edward Hopper - Nighthawks (1942)
(The other Hopper painting on which the song Office At Night was based)

Ping Pong

This 'Tent' song started out as always with the ping pong soundeffects. These keyboard effects were mainly audible in the intro, but also throughout the rest of the song they can be heard. This is a small difference from earlier versions of this song and it can probably credited to Robert Jan's presence. In the loud parts the heavy guitars were prominent, but now also some 'hysteric' keyboard sounds were part of these parts. The vocals were shared by Michiel and Henk and the cool break near the end was slightly longer than in the years before. Robert Jan's strong keyboard bass was the driving force of the song, making this version of the song in its final tour of duty the best one the band ever did.

Red Tape

The 'Work' album's hit song. It wasn't a big hit though, it hung around the lower regions of the dutch top 40 for a few weeks. It was played as almost a copy of the album version, so if you want to know what it sounded like this tour, just put the Work album in your cd-player and go to track 8! It was played as the final song of the Work suite.

Safety In Numbers

This was played similar to the 'New Flat' version. I like this song for its complicated sounding counter melodies in the instrumental parts, which were played very nicely by the band in the live version. The intro was the bouncy melody played by the guitar and keyboards. For the main body of the song Michiel played beat-guitar and the melody was carried by the keyboards. Michiel sang lead on this song, including the high lines at the end of the chorus. For the chorus he was joined by Henk. This was a very nice rendition of this song.


What other band could sing a song about the mating rituals of eels! This Michiel song is one of the more guitar-heavy tunes of the entire Nits catalog. Robert Jan started the song with some low noise, sinister keyboard sounds. Michiel played the main theme, while Henk provided the rhythm parts on the guitar. After a long instrumental opening Michiel started to sing the vocals. The keyboard played the vocal melody along with the singing. The whole song sounded wild and chaotic, much more than the original version. Michiel used a lot of echo on his guitar, making it sound rather haunting. He ended the song with an echo-y shout of 'Saragossa!'.

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This map shows the distribution size of the European eels as they migrate
from the Saragossa Sea to Europe (source: eel information service)

Slip of the Tongue

This bouncy tune was played as part 5 or 6 of the Work suite (depending on whether 'umbrella army' was part of the suite). This was one of the song in which a big Robert Jan influence can be heard, he was all over the song. It started out with drums and keyboards. Here already we can hear a lot of sounds and melodies that were never heard in Nits music, but would become their trademark sound in the future. In the beginning the vocals were shared by Henk and Robert Jan's low voice. Later Michiel joined in. Michiel's guitar and Robert Jan's harpsichord sound had a nice interplay in a small part of the song, but the instrumental second half of the song started out by the same jazzy guitar solo that's on the 'Work' album. After a while a breakdown of melodies occured in the song and after some chaos the familiar keyboard melody slowly returned. The drums and some more keyboards also return in a much more relaxed tempo than the beginning. Robert Jan got a chance to do a solo at this point. The solos were somewhat different at each performance, but he usually went into an almost carribean style in some parts of the solo. After this the band returned to the wilder style of the beginning of the song, eventually ending it with some strange, chaotic notes.


This was a Michiel song from New Flat with which I have always been fascinated for some reason, but I don't know why.. Probably the lyrics about a quiet, introvert man who slows down so much he turned into a statue. Michiel took the lead vocals, joined by Henk for the chorus. The intro was played similar to the album, but with some extra sinister synth sounds. The guitar throughout the song was also somewhat more pronounced. In the instrumental parts some 'big' synth-bass sounds were very prominent. The guitar and keyboards worked up to a climax, which ended the song.

Suddenly I Met Your Face

This song was dominated by a 'nervous' rhythmic keyboard backing and strange drum rhythms. It sounded somewhat like a deranged version of the jazz classic 'take 5', which I believe was the exact purpose. Henk sang lead and Michiel joined him for the chorus. In the instrumental part there was a keyboard solo, weird sounds and Rob's drumming went completely wild. This was one of the very few 'Work' songs that wasn't part of the suite. It was played in the first half of the concert in between the older songs from previous albums.

Tables and chairs

This song was the second to last song of the Work suite. It was played similar to the album version, or actually it was played even more similar to the long version that was released as a b-side to the 'Bobby Solo' single a year earlier. The difference with the 'Work' album version is that it sounded a bit more rough and less produced. The instrumental part before 'see how they needly go together' was also somewhat longer. This was also the case for the 'Work' tour version. This long song with a lot of different parts was played rather good by the band with some nice playing and singing. As on the released versions the lead vocals shifted between Henk and Michiel.

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This song very much benefitted from the keyboard bass, making it a lot tougher. I think it sounded better on this song than the real bass did. The rest of the song was played similar to the album, but with more guitar.

Tutti Ragazzi

This song started straight out of 'indoor painting (outdoor sketching)', maintaing the uptempo energy. It was the last song of the concert and left the audience shouting for more. In the beginning there were the typical 'tutti keyboard sounds', but actually it wasn't that wild a version as might be expected. Most other older songs were reworked in heavier versions, but with this song this wasn't really necessary. It was played rather fast though, with some melodic backing by Robert Jan. At about three quarters into the song there was a nice breakdown and a weird sound can be heard in the instrumental part. As with previous live versions a quote from the 60s instrumental organ tune 'telstar' was played near the end.

Umbrella Army

This short song from Work was left out of the Work suite at 2 of the 3 tapes I have of this tour. In Rothenburg it took its regular place between empty room and slip of the tongue, but at the other 2 concerts it was played seperately from the suite. This Michiel song had very little guitar, only in the small instrumental parts he played it for a short while. The intro was done both by keyboards and percussion. The keyboards provided plenty of melodies and sounds during this song. The lead vocals were by Michiel, sometimes together with Henk.

Uncle On Mars

Another rather wild song. Rob's drumming was great on this song, which featured a lot of keyboard effects. The keyboard also provided a cool backing to this hectic tune. Henk's lead vocals were great and in the chorus on the words stars and uncle on mars a lot of echo was put on his voice. Some more vocal effects appeared later in the song in the 'breakfast in those strange hotels' part, where Henk's voice was mixed by Paul so that it almost seemed detached from the rest of the music. After this a long instrumental ending followed, featuring a lot of weird and spacy keyboard effects. Towards the end of the song the tempo slowed down.

Wake Up

A song from Robert Jan's solo album U.P. (on which the Nits were the backing band for this song). Although most of this album is of course very much keyboard based, this song is a guitar-driven rock song. It is actually rather nice and it wasn't played too different from the original. Robert Jan himself did the lead vocals, while Michiel could play his heart out on the guitar. Henk sang the chorus to the song. The drumming by Rob was wild, but tight. For a Robert Jan song the keyboards remain a lot in the background, besides singing he mostly played only the bass lines. Michiel got to do a guitar solo. A nice and long instrumental ending wrapped up the song.

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the Young Reporter

This version of this song featured more keyboards in the intro and in the rest of the song than the album version. There was less bass though, probably because Robert Jan concentrated more on the higher keyboard sounds. A new guitar-heavy instrumental part with some other weird noises was added to the song. After this it returned to the known part of the song and a 'carnival' keyboard part just before the ending was another new thing in this song.

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Concerts considerd in the above song list:

Rothenburg 04-12-81 (radio)
Hamburg 13-05-82 (radio)
Haarlem 2-4-82 (soundboard, from the Nits Archive, Thanks Tom!)
Zurich 23-05-82 (soundboard recording, complete show, recommended!)

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If you spot mistakes or if you want to give comments or additions please mail:

Dennis Versteeg

Back to Main Nits Concert File page.