Here I Am(sterdam!)..
The concensus on the bus was that we wanted to set off earlier than normal to allow for us to do a bit more sight-seeing in Amsterdam. A sensible idea, one I still hold by, but by gosh the excesses of the night before made it a challenge! I made it up for some breakfast, Mark wasn’t looking too clever, it was a quiet journey for most of us – much of it I spent asleep hunched in the corner of my back row seat!
By the time we arrived in The Netherlands the storm that had apparently been ravaging England days before was sweeping over the lowlands. We headed into our destination watching leaves being blown in mini tornado patterns, mercifully the rain seemed to have subsided by the time we found our hotel – a short stagger from the venue, the iconic Melkweg, and right on the tram line to get into town.
We’d booked parking at the hotel, but alas the bus proved a bit too big so poor Stu and Mark had to do a few laps of the city – which upon walking around it was bloody bedlam – before eventually changing on one right outside the door (and an epic piece of reverse parking to get in it). A bonus, as it meant we didn’t actually need to pay owt for parking in what is generally a pretty expensive place to leave a vehicle any length of time (unless it’s a bicycle or a moped which littered every pavement!).
Meanwhile the hotel we stayed in had a free coffee machine so we were pretty comfortable sitting in the foyer awaiting the group to all be together again. Fifteen slightly tired non-Dutch speaking folk attempting to get onto a tram was always going to be entertaining – the poor attendant was quite patient with us, and soon enough we were on our way into the centre, Jacquie doing an impressive job at decoding the map and keeping us in the right place!
Amsterdam is a beautiful and huge place (and full of cheese shops!), and obviously we didn’t really do it justice at all – it’s reinforced by desire to revisit at a more leisurely pace! Our main objective was to get some food, we ended up in Durty Nelly’s (mainly because Mark thought it was called ‘Durty Kelly’s’), but also because of the delighted welcome we got, and room for us all to sit down and have a few beers and grab food, most of us opting for burgers.
Suitably full we headed out for a wander around the red light district – has to be done really, doesn’t it? With it being relatively early still there wasn’t much activity – Mark and I had decided we wanted to go and find some ‘cake’, but opted not to given how delicate we’d both been most of the day. Most of the windows were empty, some had scantily clad ladies beckoning us in, others displays of formidible looking sex toys.
We really wanted to go and pay a girl to let us pose in a window (when I say we, I mean me and Mark really). Upon getting home we thought of the even better idea of paying one to wear a Star Copiers t-shirt. MIssed opportunities there! And of course it would’ve been great to take in things like the Van Gogh museum and other cultural sights – I’ll definitely be heading back to ‘dam with more time on my hands to see more!
But for us we needed to get back to our tram stop – a pretty easy task, but for the cobbled pavements that turn into roads without really looking any different and the ever prioritised cycle lanes with bicycles, scooters and even miniature cars whizzing down them. Having mastered the trams it was pretty easy for us to get back on the right one and head to the hotel to get ready for the gig.
It was a good job we didn’t leave it too late – the queue outside the Melkweg looked massive (we might have been queueing for something else initially, but we won’t mention that, haha!). A stroke of luck saw a bouncer shouting that people who weren’t members needed to go to a different queue – a shorter queue – so we joined that and headed right on in. What a bloody brilliant place the venue is! Balconies either side, and a big space infront of the sounddesk for a dance.
Ferocious Dog were sounding as good as ever – each gig was getting progressively more confident than the last – with many more folk travelling to this one from England it was a fuller mosh pit, there were plenty of locals in there too. Gallows Justice kicked things off before Verse for Lee, The Glass and Lee’s Tune briefly calmed the pace before launching us back into a whirling dervish of moshing fun.
Unconditional led to Too Late – the towers were back, of course, and then Freeborn John. “I’m not getting up!” announced Dean, leading to Nadine getting up on the board – it wasn’t too steady, sometimes people’s eagerness to help with the surfboard (which is meant well, I’m certain) does the opposite – but she stayed up brilliantly. Definitely far superiour to my graceless cavorting up there, I’d say!
The set list was increasingly familiar now – Lyla and Slow Motion Suicide see loads of folk up on shoulders, then it descends into a relentless moshing frenzy for Hell Hounds – carrying on for Freethinker (this had an epic circle – we’d all spread ourselves out a bit and got locals involved, it was fun watching them look worried as the pace picked up again before we all legged it back into the middle – nobody was hurt, it was brilliant!).
Mairi’s Wedding Part II finished up the set – it was superb, definitely the best of the European dates so far. And that’s no slight on the others. We retreated to the bar and the merch area, absolutely buzzing from the experience. I spotted a Folk The System t-shirt amongst the revellers – plus the local punk in a denim cut with a Hello Kitty toy sewed to the back of it.
Again, a little shamefully, we decided to leg it from the venue part way into Levellers set – promising we’d make sure we watched them on the next night. So Mark, Amanda, Deano, Ian, Lynne and I strolled past some confused bouncers who wanted to stamp our hands – we found John, Scott and Dom for a quick natter outside before heading back towards our hotel – we’d got our eye on pizza from the Domino’s next door to the hotel, and a few free coffees!
That’s what we did – pizzas ordered, we carried them into the hotel and settled down for a nice relaxed end of the evening whilst quaffing coffee. I was in a room with Mick, I’ve no idea what time he arrived back having not missed a mosh pit yet, ha! We’d agreed to be up early again as we didn’t want to risk the bus parked outside much after 7am – the breakfast options looked a bit rubbish anyway – so I was pretty glad to be hopefully getting plenty of sleep (he says, hopefully…)
Apologies about the crap headline, haha!