... for this moment to arise
|After the London show I was sitting talking about it with my wife Val and going on about how lucky all my eurodead friends were having been to more than one show. She then said something very strange "Why don't you go and see them in Amsterdam?" I double-checked that I'd heard correctly but she definitely said it!!
Eventually after triple checking and quadruple checking I phoned the Melkweg to see if they had any tickets left. They did but for personal callers only - bugger!! I rang the AUB where I was able to buy a ticket using my credit card. Woo-Hoo - now all I needed was two days off work, a flight and somewhere to stay.
The two days off work were easy!! I just waited till the boss was distracted and told him I was taking time off!!
The flight proved more difficult. My plan was to use my BA miles but when I rang them I found that they needed 5 days notice. My heart sank. Money was tight enough but if I had to pay for my flight as well… Anyway as luck would have it I had a £100 voucher from of all people KLM. They had messed me about on a trip to Maastricht and sent me it by way of apology. The cheapest flight via their website was £256 but ringing them turned up a flight for £86 - sorted!!
So just accommodation left. My original plan was to simply head back to the airport and sleep there and get an early flight the next morning. Val wasn't too keen on this idea. I asked the others where they were staying but it was too expensive. Sadly it turned out I was too old for some of the places in my budget!! Eventually I managed to get booked at the Euphemia Hotel for about £25. It was a dorm but if you've read my review of Phish in Amsterdam in 97 you'll know what fun it can be!!
|So off to Stansted airport on the Wednesday morning. The flight was a bit late but not enough to worry me!! After arriving in Amsterdam I set off to get sorted out for the evening. First stop was Café Homegrown for supplies. Then on to the AUB to pick up my ticket and then down to the hotel to drop off my stuff.
The hotel wasn't too bad, not as nice as the bulldog hotel but somewhere to crash. Typically my room was on the third floor with 3 very steep flights of stairs to climb. There were 4 beds in the room and only 2 of them seemed to be taken so I chose the one nearest the door. The receptionist gave me the code to get into the hotel after the reception desk closed which I put somewhere safe and set off out into Amsterdam.
I knew some of the chaps were already in Amsterdam but I thought it would be too early to meet them at the Melkweg so I wandered off to the Red light district and had a couple of beers in the Choice Exact. I wandered down to the Melkweg after a while but no one was there so I retired to sit outside the Bulldog Palace and watch the world go by.
|The next time I checked out the venue I was greeted by a shout of "Hey eurotrader" and it turned out to be Miha. He was busy trying to peel a Ratdog poster of a wall but the paper just kept getting thinner and thinner. While we were talking Alasdair Macdonald and Ian Mckay turned up. Miha continued to try and remove the poster while we talked until someone from the venue asked what he was doing. He told us to wait there and disappeared into the venue, returning a few moments later with 4 copies of the poster he'd removed from the walls!!
We retired to a bar and then back to the hotel the others were staying in to meet up with Chris Jones (CJ). Also back at the hotel was Nick Swift (of Decoy Records in Manchester) who Chris had met that morning at Liverpool airport and John Kilbride. John's story was funny - he'd waited all these years for something like this to come to Scotland, Ratdog played down the road from him and where was he? On Holiday!!
|After a beer we headed back to the venue and had only been there for 5 minutes when the band arrived. They all got off except Bob who stayed on the bus for a while. When he did get off he hit his head on the top of the door. I took a snap of him before he wandered off saying " got to go to work guys, gotta go to work". I thought about asking him to sign my poster but then thought better of it!!!!
Chris was taking a snap of Mark Karan and taking ages about it. I shouted out "come on Chris he's on stage at 9:30" at which point he laughed and Chris got a great picture. Afterwards we headed off to find a bar, which we did - it was called Rookies.
Once inside I headed for the loo. While I was in the loo some of the guys were looking at the hash menu. Someone tapped them on the shoulder and asked if he could have it next. When they turned around it was Mark Karan!! He bought two bags of grass, one being the last bag of Thai the house had!
CJ snapped this picture, which is destined to become THE picture of Mark as it crops up every where now! We also got to chat for a while, ask him how the tour was going, was he enjoying playing to European audiences? Oh yes was the reply - East coast audiences can be quite tough and West coast "Well those guys saw the Dead so many times…"
We had a beer or two and sat around talking for a while. A Deadhead on the next table got up and as he was leaving came over to us and said "Don't forget to go to the gig guys!". After a while we headed back to the venue and stood in line, me and CJ got in the wrong queue and nearly went to see someone else!! Eventually the doors opened and in we went - after paying our membership fees at the door and having our tickets taken off us.
Inside the venue was very small, it had a balcony with 2 smoke machines that blew smoke into the audience. We staked out a place down the front again and someone got some beers. We watched a taper carefully set up his microphones and just as he got settled Alasdair came in and asked him if he could put his mike on the stand as well and down it all came again. Eventually the band came on.
Jam > Bird Song > Jack Straw > I Need a Miracle > Wang Dang Doodle > It's all over now Baby Blue >
|I need a miracle followed with the crowd singing along and that turned into Wang Dang Doodle after a while. Bob then sang he obligatory Dylan song - It's all over now Baby Blue - making a better job of it than he had with She Belongs to me in London and then ran into Cold Rain and Snow - "I married me a wife, she's been trouble all my life" - well until she let me come to Amsterdam that is!!
Towards the end of the first set all eyes turned to the antics of jay behind the drums again. He was signalling to the roadie on the side of the stage. After a while a joint sailed through the air and over his head!! He now turned to the roadie on the other side who after some frantic pleading came and picked it up, put it in his mouth and lit it. A huge cloud of smoke erupted as Jay continued to play while sucking frantically on the joint.
The first set closed up with Weather Report Suite > Let it grow before ending with a return to a jam based around the opening song Bird Song. We'll be back in just a little bit," announced Bob before going off. Someone else made a beer run during the break so we were well prepared when the band came back on.
Blackbird, Black-Throated Wind, Last Time > Ashes and Glass > Help on the Way > Slipknot! > Bass/Drums > Standing on the Moon > Throwing Stones > Franklin's Tower Encore Gloria
The second set opened with Blackbird again. Mixed emotions as I'd seen him play this in London but how often do you get to see Bob Weir sing Blackbird? It was rather surreal this time as someone behind me kept repeating the words just after Bob sang them. He never got them right either so it went
Bob: "Blackbird singing in the dead of night"
Man: "Blackbird singing, yeah that's right
He kept this up for the whole song and into the start of Black Throated Wind before he stopped. Maybe someone hit him!! BTW was great and as it would later transpire a change to the setlist which said Masterpiece. The tempo then picked up with The Last Time and then Ashes and Glass.
Bob then started Help on the way and I did what I had done in London and peeked at the setlist. It was the same so Help went into Slipknot! and then into Bass/Drums. When the band came back on they went into Standing on the Moon and then we all got to sing along again to Throwing Stones before they returned to Franklins Tower.
In London Bob had mucked up the lyrics but this time he had them on the floor on a piece of paper and hence we got a better version. A roadie ran on after the last verse and snatched it away again. The set finished and the band went off.
|Unlike London we got an encore. When they came back on Bob announced "I think I played this last time I was here" and launched into Gloria - a cracking end to a great show. The band took a bow and left the stage.
We spent the next hour trying to get our arses into gear. We wandered outside, realised we'd lost Alasdair went back in again. Had a team photo taken in the foyer looking a bit rough! Alasdair handed me a load of Ratdog discs, which were recordings of all of the UK shows except Cardiff. I then headed off to my hotel to fall into bed. What a night!
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|All photos © Chris Jones
Except the one of Jay which was taken by Norman Sands
and the one of Bob outside the venue © Kevin Shewan
Scan of setlist provided by John Kilbride