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  • Writer's pictureJH

Day 35/36: A revolting sight in Amsterdam and an angelic show in Wilhelminaoord, Netherlands

AVT: 4h (103.5h)

ADT: 400 km (7,913 km)


“Best six words I ever said: We’re locked out of the van.”

- Deni

“My tour quote is, ‘F*$# you, Deni!’”

- Sarah


I already wrote about Amsterdam.

Last year we had the rare opportunity to visit that charming, tawdry old city and had a great time. Two days ago we did so again and had much the same experience.

Now, I’m pleased with what I wrote about Amsterdam last year, so I encourage you to read it here.

The primary difference this time around is that I got to see something I was not expecting (which is not an unusual statement about Amsterdam). You can reasonably expect to see women behind glass, porn shops, live sex shows, and all manner of sensual debauchery in the red light district. What I saw there this time made all of that look like a church service.

There’s no kink shop in the world to compare with the morally shocking, reprehensible, filthy, inexcusable, depraved, repugnant, nefarious, degenerate, vile, shameless sight upon which my horrified eyes fell in the grand old city (and this comes from a Steel Panther fan).

Yes, I saw actual, living, mouth-breathing Chelsea Football Club supporters in the wild.


No wonder there was such a robust police presence in the area. The blue herd was in town for a Champions League game against locals Ajax Amsterdam, and were thus gathered downtown to drink and steal things from innocent people. I passed by them as quickly as I could without being tainted. You can’t be too careful with these types, you know. Anyone who would cheer for a club like that is capable of anything.

Oh relax, Chelsea fans. I jest (mostly). For the most part, Arsenal and Chelsea fans glare quietly sideways at each other across London. Our shared loathing of T*ttenham Hotspur, Manchester United, and pretty much everyone else definitely doesn’t make us friends, but we can at least appreciate a mutual enemy.

For the record, Chelsea won the match, which is probably why Amsterdam wasn’t in the international news yesterday.

Speaking of church services, we conducted one of sorts last night. We have played some very cool spaces on this tour so far. Nice theatres. A castle. Yesterday after a fairly short drive from Ee we came upon a lovely old church in the town of Wilhelminaoord, Netherlands. Old is relative, of course. The church dates to maybe the mid-1800s, which in Canada is ancient. Over here it’s like a brand new building. In any case, we had a great lighting and sound crew and they turned the place into a rock show. I was desperate to put on robes and do my Papa Emeritus thing, but alas, Papa IV will have to wait for another time.

While the show looked spectacular, we again had to be careful with volume. It’s a huge, open room with high, high ceilings and cold, hard surfaces everywhere. Very delicate. Sound bounces all over the place in a room like that. We were doing sound check and I barely touched my bass drum and it sounded like a cannon went off. Crazy, crazy volume. We had to play as quietly as we could to preserve every window and eardrum in the place. Challenging, but I suppose a good test.

The show was really good. It was visual and, despite the dicey volume situation, sounded good by all reports. The audience was into it from the start and stayed with us through Bob Marley and a couple of encores. It was great to see so many familiar faces as always. Thanks once again to our own travelling fans (a much more photogenic group than Chelsea’s travelling fans) for supporting!

Last night I had two different people tell me that the show lifted their spirits, which was a good reminder to me about what we’re really doing here. You forget sometimes about music as an act of service. It isn’t just Sarah’s voice and the music that brings people back to us. It’s the way we make them feel. Music is about a lot of things. Emotion, escape, expression. Sarah’s music is meant to inspire, and it feels good to know that the shows we play make people feel good.

Metaphysically speaking, service is the most important thing, and at the highest level the act of service is the reward for service. Wiser people than me have talked about devoting your life to serving others. Some people think that means working in soup kitchens or building wells in Africa and that’s true. But it’s also being an accountant who helps customers save money in an honest way. It’s a waitress who offers a smile to a customer who needs one. It’s a musician who entertains and encourages or just offers a couple hours of release.

I need to be reminded as much as anyone that this – this tour, these shows, the music – isn’t about me. It’s about serving my artist and through her serving our audiences. My thanks to the people who remind me along the way.

We’re almost done, you know.

People have begun to ask me if I’m ready for the tour to be over. To be honest, we aren’t even thinking about it. You don’t need another piece from me on how touring is moment to moment. I’ve written about this at length before, but the fact remains. We don’t really anticipate. We don’t really speculate. What I know is that I got up this morning and I’m on tour. I’ll do the same tomorrow and the next day and then one day I won’t be on tour anymore. That’s kind of how it goes.

I am, however, continuing to pay close attention to things. I’m still trying to make and preserve memories. Last night I was on stage alone packing up and I took a moment to notice my surroundings. I could see Deni and Ken and our friends out there talking. Sarah by the merch table. Lights filtering through a slight haze of fog that set the mood for the show. If I notice anything as we approach the finale, it’s that I take more of these mental pictures. You just never know which one will be the last one ….

So today I’m taking mental pictures of a coffee shop in Leeuwarden, Netherlands. There are cool, framed black and white photographs on one wall. What looks like pencil sketches on another. Lights suspended from the ceiling by cables. The girl behind the counter told us that she has family in London and has visited the city. What a small world. Yesterday in Amsterdam we heard the siren call of Canadian accents at a sidewalk shawarma place and found ourselves in conversation with some girls from Niagara Falls.

Hmmm … maybe that’s why the extra police presence.

No, we’re not thinking about going home yet. Not today. We’re taking care of business right now and then getting ready to drive to the next venue. Then it’s load in, sound check, dinner, chill, show, tear down, load out, back to billets, sleep, etc., etc., etc.

We’re still in the thick of it, friends.

Oh, and our friend Marleen just dropped off a compelling gift. Tell you all about it tomorrow.

*Cover photo by Nicole Montpellier.

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