Not normally one to take in heavy doses of culture when on the road, this stay in Amsterdam was a little different due to the location of our esteemed hotel. Bang opposite the Van Gough museum and a 2 minute walk from the newly re-opened Rijksmuseum. It was a must-visit. I watched a documentary in the UK just before we left to embark on this trip and had made my mind up then to go. So a day off in Amsterdam and 5 musicians headed off in the direction of the Rijks. The doors to this awe-inspiring building have been closed to the public for ten years due to a 375 million Euro renovation project that was scheduled to last 5 years. The delays were partly due to the controversy caused by the original plans to remove the cycle paths that have since 1885 run right through the centre of the building. There was outrage at this and the planners and developers were forced almost back to the drawing board in order to incorporate this ancient feature. Holland being one of the most civilized and switched-on nations on the planet chose to listen to its public, much to the chagrin of the curators. Whilst controversy still simmers, the public can now enjoy one of the most spectacular museums in the world and a collection which contains paintings from the Dutch Golden Age by painters such as Jacob Isaakszoon van Ruisdael, Frans Hals, Johannes Vermeer, Jan Steen, Rembrandt, and Rembrandt’s pupils. A visit is highly recommended.
Our Hotel with the Rijksmuseum in the background..
The Milkmaid – Johannes Vermeer (1657)
The Merry Fiddler – Gerard Van Honthorst (1623)
Still Life with Turkey Pie – Pieter Claesz (1627)
The evening was soon upon us and there was a trip to a very small, very Mediterranean restaurant which was as unusual as it was delightful.
Show Day –
The chamber of torture (aka gym) was calling due to the excesses of last night’s meal so it was on with the shorts and trainers and into the elevator to floor -2. Jim was in the Gym. Tim too. A very well equipped room with everything you’d ever need for self humiliation and pain. I opted for 30 minutes on the treadmill and a 2000 meter row on the trusty old Concept 2 rower. The treadmill is a great place to think and I often use this time to mentally prepare my diary entry. Not so today as the shite, so-called dance music that was banging away prevented any kind of thought process. Maybe that’s the intention. It also had the effect of making me quite angry. Again, maybe that’s the intention as surely more calories are burned in anger than in tranquillity. I politely asked the gym attendant to turn it down (or preferably off) and he obliged. Knackered, I wandered to the magnificent pool area. For once, the pool photo on the hotel website doesn’t do it justice. Usually the pool looks inviting and huge so you slip into your trunks, go down only to find a tiny pool fit only for small rodents.
Since yesterday was devoted to the Rijksmuseum, today had to be the Van Gogh. Jim and I decided to take a walk over there, we stood in the queue for tickets for 10 minutes and we were inside. Dedicated to the life and works of Vincent van Gogh and his contemporaries, a visit comes highly recommended.
Hotel departure was 3:30 and we eagerly assembled in the lobby. Bernie and team drove us to the brand spanking new Ziggo Dome Arena. I’ve been looking forward to this gig for many reasons, not least is that Ruth Moody joins us for the first time tonight. As I’m sure readers will know, Ruth’s was the female voice on the Privateering album, and what a voice. We arrived at the LED covered arena and after greeting Ruth and her band, headed for catering, as usual. I managed to get the dregs of the lunchtime potato and leek soup which was obviously very popular. A visit to the kitchen to see what Dave and Chris were rustling up for this evening’s dinner. Moules Mariniere and frites, my favourite. we headed for soundcheck and ran the songs that Ruth was going to join us on stage for tonight. The room seemed to be as expected, I believe the designers of the Ziggo have paid particular attention to acoustics and in particular the absorption of low end. Richard’s new in-ear monitors arrived today so he was a happy bunny. Ruth used in-ears for the very first time in sound check. We all told her that once used, there was no going back once you’re past the initiation period. It was a total pleasure to sing harmonies with Ruth live, she is as Mark so correctly points out ‘the real thing’ and the last time I experienced that was with Emmylou back on 2006.
After an extended sound check we all but ran to catering as most of us, including the crew were starving. I tucked in to my huge bowl of Moule-frites and was very happy. I managed to avoid the temptation of the chocolate mousse.
After dinner, I met up with my new friend Jeroen Gmlech who recently built me a Tele. I decided I needed a different style of neck and he kindly picked up the guitar from my hotel, changed it and dropped the new one off at the venue.
pic Henk Pestman
We had a special show for many reasons and afterwards, back in the hotel bar we raised a glass to John McCusker’s 40th birthday. Happy Birthday John. Our dear friend and Dutch resident Ewan Vernal was at the show and returned to the bar to join in with the celebrations.
After a long day, bed beckoned.
pic Henk Pestman