Guano Apes , Alex Mofa Gang ,Melkweg, Amsterdam, 5-11-17

On Saturday the 4th of November Jorge was due to arrive.

Whilst still at The Hilton, in the morning, Andy went off for a wander. I think he’d planned to visit a couple of museums. Of course, he had to ask Urethra at reception for directions (Any excuse eh mate ? 😉 ) As i didn’t have a great nights sleep the previous night, i decided to stay there a bit longer 😉 (Hey, at least Andy can joke about the snoring lol). Later Andy came back, we had some rubbish coffee & then left to go check into the hotel i’d booked for me & Jorge.It was very close & as we’d passed it the previous day, no trouble to find it. As the room wasn’t ready yet,i stayed in reception whilst Andy went off again. Apparently, he went to Moco Museum to check out the Banksy and Roy Lichtenstein exhibition…& i’m sure that he would be going via various bars 😉 Once the room was ready, i went up & was quite surprised how good it was.
Whilst this hotel was nowhere near as “plush” as the Hilton, it served it’s purpose & was good value for money (also added bonus of being closer to Melkweg etc).  I decided to just chill there until Jorge arrived. Soon enough he was here & i went down to meet him. Jorge also seemed quite impressed with the room.
Eventually we went out for a wander & arranged to meet Andy near The Bulldog on Leidseplein, to try find a place to have a meal together. We walked up & down the street & eventually decided to go in the Sherpa Nepelese restaurant.(We’d been there before on a previous trip, so knew it was good). We were lucky to get a table as it was very busy. I think everyone enjoyed the meal there. Once we’d finished, we decided to have a walk to the Red light District. Jorge had only previously visited there with female company, so he was keen to visit again. We told him we’d show him around the “Meat & 2 veg” section for a laugh 😉 By the time we got down that end of the city, it started to piss it down. So we decided to go have a beer at “The Old Quarter”. (That’s a place we’ve stayed at a few times over the years. We stopped staying there when there was a change of management & the cost wasn’t as good value as previous times. Not only that, but they stopped doing the evening meal which we loved. It was some kind of Dutch Stew & was gorgeous!). It was good to get out of the rain ! After numerous txts from them,  Kitti & Benoit came to the Old Quarter. Was nice seeing Kitti again as hadn’t seen her for a long time. Sorry,but not sorry, to say it, but, Benoit was being a bit of a dickhead. (I wasn’t the only one who noticed it!) As we’d been there a while already, we decided to go visit another bar, just up the road. It’s called “The International”. I stayed a night there years back as The Old Quarter was sold out. Had a couple of drinks & then decided to head “home”. As it was still raining, we walked to central station & took a tram back to our respective hotels.

Gig Day 5-11-17

Jorge & myself had breakfast in the hotel.It was quite nice.(Andy was at his hotel & went to Bagels & Beans) Later Andy came to the hotel & i took him up to our room. Think he thought the room was ok. We had a brief little game of “indoor mini basketball” !  We all then left for more wandering around.As we were going past Melkweg, we saw the tour bus was there so i had to take a photo or Andy & Jorge next to it.  As we walked along various streets i saw a fuck off big bird sat on a car. It didn’t give a dam.(See what i did there? 😉 )  Eventually, we stopped off at “Rooie Neli’s” & had beers. 
Walking along another street we saw a couple of interesting things. The 2nd photo is of Jorge “Checking out the competition” 😉 Our next stop was “Cafe Kalkhoven”. I think we all might have had food there. I remember Andy having some kind of beef patte with a bun, followed by apple pie complete with slagroom 🙂  I’d prearranged with Henning that i’d phone him when we got to the venue as we wanted to see the soundcheck etc. All 3 of us managed to do it.We were walked through & went up on the end of the side balcony. A great viewpoint.
It was interesting to see how they had the stage set up. What was that little drum set all about? The screens looked cool as they depicted images from back in the ’90s. I really should have worked out straight away what they were gonna do, but i was a bit slow if i’m honest.
Something i STILL cant get my head around is the fact that Sandra never seems to do soundchecks with the guys* (The only time I’ve know that to happen is if they’re doing a show for TV OR first night of a tour)
* So if anyone was outside the venue & thought they heard Sandra singing, it wasn’t her! It was a tape of her vocals & the guys played along to that. 
After soundcheck finished, Henning came to have a chat with us. As i’m writing this, Andy reminded me that when Henning came up to us, he said that we “….looked like a scene from the Muppets “! (If you’ve seen The Muppets, he’s referring to the old geezers up in the balcony who would always berate Kermit etc)  I had to ask the age old obvious question ” When do you think you’ll come back to play a show in the UK?” 😉 Whilst he didn’t confirm anything, after what he told me, there is now more hope that it could happen 😉 I think he asked what i thought of the new/old album. Well, as it was only released in Germany (NOT a smart move by the record label) i didn’t have much time before the gig to listen to it. ( I also had other gigs before GA, so wasn’t home enough to listen !). I thought a couple of old songs sounded totally different, but at the time, i couldn’t decide if it was a good thing or not. I also asked if the idea of the new(old) album was potentially gonna make them try playing in other markets (Hence the previous answer about touring 😉 ) There was so much more i would have liked to have know about the album, but we didn’t have time to talk for very long. Oh yeah, i also mentioned to him that even though i’d got a photo pass i was a bit paranoid that i might get shut down by security (Like last time when i filmed at this venue). He then kindly said he’d go have a word with the venue manager, to make sure nothing like that would happen. Thank you Henning, it was most appreciated. Also thanks to the venue manager (Sorry, i can’t remember her name) We left Melkweg to go have food. Outside we bumped into Pezi. Was nice seeing her again. Had a brief chat, then went our separate ways. (I think Pezi went to meet Kitti?).
When came back later, going through queue to get in early, i almost lost a pass as wasn’t stuck very well on my jacket. Fortunately Jorge spotted it. Holding it towards me he said “Erm, i think you’ll be needing this!”
Once inside the foyer, there was a female member of security. I asked her to let is in the main hall, but she wouldn’t let us in ! Ended up having to phone Henning (which i didn’t want to do). When he came security bitch wouldn’t let him walk us through even with him having his AAA laminate !! I could see Henning was getting annoyed with her & i felt really bad for putting him in this situation. What is it with these jumped up power hungry security dicks? In the end someone phoned the venue manager. She came rushing down the corridor ” What’s the problem?”. As she took us through, she grabbed a seat for me & took us up to balcony. (Yet again, huge thanks to Henning & the venue manager,whos name i’ve forgot,sorry, for helping us out).
Once doors were open, it soon got a bit busy. During the course of the evening, many of my old friends came in. Some came up to the balcony to say hello & others stayed downstairs. The opening band were “Alex Mofa Gang”. I’d never heard or seen them before. They were quite a decent opening act. Even though they sang in German, they had a good sound. (Andy liked them so much that later he bought a t-shirt 😉 ) There was a cool moment where the singer did a crowd surf with a difference…he managed to stand on some kind of a mat & the audience carried him along 

So,nice warm up & next it’s the main course 🙂
The lights go down & Dennis is the first one to get on stage. He sits down at the small drum kit & starts playing a familiar drum beat. Stude walks on next, closely followed by Henning. It’s immediately obvious that Henning has a problem with his guitar & he walks off stage whilst Dennis & Stude continue to jam the intro(along with a tape of Sandras vocal) of the opening of “Maria”. When Sandra appears on stage,Henning is still sorting out the problem with his guitar. Tbh, the start is a bit of a mess ! They take a little while to get into the groove with things ( Hmm, not the best start that I’ve seen…) During this opening, there’s very little lighting on the stage. Only the “boards” behind them with the old images are really lit up. I’m wondering how Sandra will sound tonight as they cancelled/rescheduled a couple of gigs earlier on the tour. During “Maria” she seemed to hold back with her vocals (Probably a wise thing if the cancellations were connected to that 😉 ). After that, someone in the crowd shouts out “Lords Of the Boards!” C’mon ! as if they’d play that song so early !?! Sandra then kinda cracks me up by saying “..no it’s not Lords Of The Boards…it’s quite similar to that…” They then play “Rain” ! Hmm, now i’m really confused! Rain doesn’t sound anything like LOTB ! (Neither the original or the 2017 version sound like LOTB)
We then get the first cover song of the night. It’s Eminems “Lose Yourself”. It’s pretty much a straight cover version. I like Eminems version, so it’s interesting hearing GA cover it. (I think there were a few confused faces down in the crowd during that one).

Next up it’s most definitely a crowd pleaser, namely “You Can’t Stop Me”. The band are now really getting into their stride. At the end of YCSM, Henning extends the outro with a little doodle,then goes into the classic opening riff of “Quietly”. Queue huge cheers from the crowd. Tonight, i can only describe “Quietly” as a strange version! To me, it sounded like Sandra couldn’t make up her mind whether to sing it high or low (Again, could it be to vocal problems still ?) 
Next we get the new version of “Crossing The Deadline”. I quite like the new opening riff that Henning came up with. The song, in general, compared to the original version, is quite different at the beginning. Still sounds good,but i prefer the original as it had more balls to it 😉
By now, we’re probably about half way through the main set. Another crowd pleaser is next; the incomparable “Open Your eyes”! This gets a load of the crowd po-going down on the floor. It’s great to see everyone having so much fun down there (And yes, i wish i could be down amongst it… 🙁 )

Then we get the new version of “Suzie”. On the album, i reckon this one is probably the most different to the original version. I love what they’ve done with it. Easily the best new old song. Sandra sounds amazing when she really belts it out. It comes over great live as well. After that they play the new version of “Never Born”. Whilst it’s good, i prefer the original version. I really like their cover version of “Precious”.

Before “Pretty In Scarlet”, Sandra spotted a little kid down the front. He was lifted up on stage & watched most of the song. Then he got what was probably his best experience of his lifetime : Dennis let him have a go at playing drums ! It was so sweet & cute to see that.  The main set finished with the pop of “Sunday Lover”. If you’re in the crowd downstairs & not bopping away to this, you need to check your pulse, as you might be dead ! 😉
The encore was something i’d wanted to see since the last time i saw them. Over the years, the guys have a jam song they played at the gigs (minus Sandra). When i saw them in Barcelona, they had a new jam called “Lez”. I always much preferred the original “Trompeter” jam as it had so much more swing to it. So, seeing them jam “Trompeter” tonight was a fantastic moment…& a hark back to the old days 😉

They then did something out of the ordinary. One of the guys started to play “Aint Got Time” (it’s not on the set list). Sandra said “Should we try it?”. After a quick false start, they almost found their way to do it, but Stude threw his hands up in the air & stopped it. Sandra blamed it on Stude “You’ve got altzeimer!”. But as Dennis said, they did have a try at doing it (Even though they hadn’t rehearsed it). Respect to them all for trying.
Henning starts playing a short riff (was it the start of Lose Yourself again ?) maybe checking if the guitars in tune? Whilst he’s doing that, over the other side, Stude grabs one of the cymbals(complete with stand) & hands it to the audience. Hey, even a cymbal gets to crowd surf tonight 🙂 Sandra asks if there are any drummers in the audience, but no one came forward.She then says this is “Big In Japan”. Again, it’s great to look down at the audience & see everyone jumping around like crazy. One lucky soul even got the chance to sing a verse when Sandra pointed the microphone to him.
We already know which song they’re gonna finish with, the song that pretty much launched their career, all those years back “Lords Of the Boards”. Of course, i had to film this one !

Again, great seeing everyone enjoying themselves. When the song finished, Stude trashed the bass drum with his bass, Sandra knocked down some cymbals (I often wonder what Dennis is thinking when this happens 😉 ) & for sure, everyone on stage had had a great time. Sandra then says to the crowd “Thank you so much for all coming out tonight”. Then she spotted me & screamed ” Simon ! Siiimon !” She then said ” cmon Simon. C’mon on stage. We need to have a photo with you….Simon..Simon is the one & only British fan, from i don’t know..20years…. Simon is here tonight”. As i was tentatively going down the steps, past a few of my friends, Sandra said something like ” *Simon is a real fighter * “…”Thank you so much cos you’re a real fighter”. As this is happening, the crowd then start chanting “Simon! Simon! Simon!”. What she said was all very emotional for me & kinda bizarre to hear the crowd chanting my name. It’s a moment i’ll never forget. Whilst i was being lifted up to the stage by Dennis, Stude went crowd surfing. Henning asked “Where’s Stude? We need to have the family photo”. He then notices that he’s at the back of the hall! . Sandra says “C’mon lets get the photo”. I pass my camera to Stilli (i think?). 

 

** If you don’t know me & are reading this, you’re probably wondering what Sandra is referring to when she says Simon is a real fighter. Well, the brief explanation is that early 2016 i had a seizure & was later diagnosed with having brain tumors. They said i’ve probably got 2 years left to live. I couldn’t believe it. So i had to endure multiple hospital visits to have both radio & chemotherapy. Whilst it’s not curable, i’ve carried on as much as i physically can, with my passion of still going to gigs.**

Dennis gets the young lad to join in the photo as well. What a fantastic way to finish the night. After the photo is took, i have a brief moment with Sandra. As we hugged & she gave me peck on the cheek, we both had tears running down our faces. For myself, it was a moment of reality. I suddenly realised there’s a possibility of this not happening again (seeing Guanos). I got very overcome by my emotions. It’s quite ironic when i think about it. I mean, such a unique super happy moment for me, switched to being low in a blink of the eye.
When i got my camera back, i took a few quick snaps of the band, the crowd & that little lad crowd surfing.  Eventually got off the stage & went back up to the balcony. I was probably blubbing all the way! Had some chats with my mates, struggled to get my  flag untied & then we went back down to main floor. I think at this time, Rob, Kristina & Anne went to meet Ronald & Vinnie at a bar. After that we went to the merchandise place to see who, from the band, would come out to hang with everyone.
I bought a T-shirt. Had chats with Henning, Dennis & Stude. Again, there was so much i would have liked to asked them, but my mind was all over the place. Then photos were took etc. I think the photo with Dennis clearly shows how emotional it had all been for me.  Unfortunately, a bit later, this great experience came tumbling down. One person started being a total dickhead around me (again) & as much as i hate to say it, i got really wound up by his actions. A couple of my friends could see that i was getting pissed off with him & if it wasn’t for Jorge getting between us, i would have probably punched him to the ground. I’d had enough of it all. So i thought “Fuck it! Lets get out of here & go join Rob & the others”. When we stepped out of the Melkweg, it was a horrible rainy night (Kinda how i felt in my mind at the time). Greg led the way, using his phone as a sat nav. Typically, it took us the long way there. Once there, sat down at a table with Rob,Kristina, Ronald, Vinnie etc, said quick hellos. But in all honesty, i was feeling pretty down. With a combination of the highs & lows of the day, i probably shouldn’t have gone there. I must apologise to my TRUE friends who were there, as i wasn’t being very sociable. A bit later,Jorge & a few others arrived at the Cave & took another table. After a while, i decided it best that i leave & go back to the hotel. Me & Andy said our goodbyes to everyone…. & as we we doing that “the annoying one” came over & kept trying to kiss me. I had to dodge that & push him away. So, yeah, what was a great day was ruined for me because of his actions.
*Now i’m pretty sure some of you reading this may be thinking “Simon sounds like he hates Benoit”. Hate is a pretty strong word. I wouldn’t use that to describe our “friendship”. I think “annoying” would be more suitable. Truth be told, i kinda feel sorry for him. I think he hasn’t got many friends & he is super sensitive when he’s around people (especially women) & the slightest little thing that he doesn’t like he has a hissy fit. Hell, we’ve even talked privately about that stuff (BEFORE this gig in Amsterdam) in the hope i could help him with his love/hate scenarios with some people. I guess he’ll never learn though.
I will also say that he has since apologised to me about his stupid behaviour. So i appreciate that he finally did that.

When me & Andy left the Cave, apparently, he carried on being a dick with someone else !
Later that night (or was it the following day?) Jorge told me that when they were leaving the Cave, he booked a taxi & offered Pezi/Kitti a free ride to their hotel (It was still raining). He wanted to make sure they got back safely & didn’t have to walk in the rain. Very kind & chivalrous of him to do that. But guess what? Benoit had a hissy fit about it ! Seriously, he needs to grow up. Jorge said they could share his taxi, nothing more,nothing less.
Yet beno couldn’t understand it. He has since called Jorge some childish nasty names (In a private GA forum).
As far as i’m concerned, he also needs to apologise to Jorge.

So, summing up, it was a weekend of highs & lows. Great seeing Guano Apes again & also cool to see some of my old friends who i’d not seen for a while.
I truly hope that Guanos make it back to the UK, before i pass away. (I even briefly considered paying for it to happen using my pensions i’d cashed in. But then when thinking about it more seriously, i thought it wasn’t a wise thing to do, for a couple of obvious reasons)

My friend Julia pretty much summed it up about the  last photo : ” Simon that’s amazing, I am so happy to hear this. You deserve it more than anyone else in this world. Hope you had an amazing trip xx “

 

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