Paradiso, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 07 & 08 February 2020
Supergrass in Amsterdam
What an intense, but great weekend this was!
Friday 7th February
After attending the Oslo, Hackney gig last September, we were really looking forward to these gigs, as the Hackney one was quite loose and we were in need of some tight shows again.
When I entered Paradiso in the afternoon of Friday February 7th, I ran into the band on their way to the Vondelpark for a shoot for The Observer. A great hello and a brief chat followed, until the photographer arrived and the band went off.
They crossed paths with support act The Tambles, who had supported in Paris and Brussels as well and were now eager to perform their own set at Paradiso. They were also my first interview-date, as I was curious how they've experienced this brief tour - a tour I partially organised, as Mick asked whether I knew a support band for their Amsterdam gigs. I recommended The Tambles and within a day they were booked. To everyone's surprise they were offered the Paris and Brussels slots too, which they gladly accepted.
They’d had a great time so far and were delighted to be given a chance like this. They had learned quite a lot and received good feedback from audiences and Supergrass - Danny told the bass player they reminded him of the youthfulness and energy of their own early days, which was exactly why I thought of The Tambles in the first place.
Wrapping up the interview, I got a message from Mick, asking where I was. I found him in the catacombs of Paradiso and we settled in a dressing room for a lengthy chat on the reunion, the start of the tour, the boxset and future plans. I'm trying to get this chat transcribed in its entirety in near future but not the best of persons to do that in the blink of an eye.
Meanwhile, the sound check had already started, with shards of Diamond Hoo Ha Man-intro flooding through the walls. At the end of the chat Mick arranged guest list and after party spots for me and my partner and off he was: sound checking.
Two hours later we were back, standing at the end of a long line, waiting to get in. Which went fairly quick, once the doors opened. We settled at the right side balcony and waited for things to come.
The Tambles were on fire, as expected, getting quite good response from the audience. Something I was a bit nervous about. Never heard them play 'I See lies' that fast! They were almost punk rock. Great set.
Then it was waiting for Supergrass to step into the limelight, which they did about half an hour later. Starting off after a collage of spoken words with "In it For The Money", which I hadn't heard live since 1998. Then followed "I'd Like To Know", "Diamond Hoo Ha Man" and enthusiastically received "Mary" and "Moving". Sitting one level up, it was sometimes hard to know whether the PA sound was louder than the audience singalong. "Time" and "Mansize Rooster" closed the first chapter of the set, which was interluded by a short musical intermission.
A beautiful version of "Fin" was followed by an equally good "Late In The Day", alas both got slightly plagued with some feedback coming from the stage. And just when you thought "Richard III" made the venue explode, "Going Out" came around! A small group of the audience in front of the stage had started dancing and sort of senior-pogoing early on and got joined by more and more people, making it kinda festive, but movement was also present in the rest of the hall, which was filled with more balding and greying people than usual, although there were more than enough youngsters as well.
A pleasant "Low C" closed the second part of the set, which was interluded by a short bit of "Coffee In The Pot". As it faded out, the band prepared for a blistering "Lose It" and "She's So Loose". Joking around was happening all over the set, as was when announcing "Grace". "Alright" was now introduced as 'rare B-side', but straight away another audience explosion followed. "Sun Hits The Sky", "Lenny" and a great, well received and sung along "Pumping On Your Stereo" closed this part of the set, with the band leaving the stage.
The first encore was "Caught By The Fuzz", followed by a great "Bad Blood", "Strange Ones", the title of the boxset and freshly released compilation, closed the night. Lights went on and people went their separate ways.
After a brief chat with The Tambles, I sneaked to the after party and had a short chat with Mick, who was very happy with the gig. It was the first time he felt pieces came together better than usual, filling gaps others left, making it a great set. He handed me a copy of the boxset, which I've been helping him out with since last March and chatted a bit more, shaking hands with Gaz and their manager, whom I hadn't seen in two years. There were more people present, like Mick's daughter and other relatives, but decided to leave early, as my partner was tired and we had to walk a bit to our B&B.
Saturday 8th February
Saturday was spent visiting museums, shopping a bit and meting Sofie from Belgium, one of the winners of Strangeones.com's 2002 contest, when she won a copy of "Never Done Nothing like That Before" 7's - somehow we kept in touch and this event was a good opportunity to finally meet.
At 7pm we arrived back at Paradiso and checked in, settling at the backside of the left-hand balcony this time.
The Tambles were ablaze again, receiving even better responses than the day before and 30 minutes after they wrapped up, it was Supergrass again.
"I'd Like To Know" blasted through the speakers, opening a quite different set. Danny's got hold of a flu, so was more quiet and focussed on tight drumming, rather than chatting about. The audience was more listening than dancing, which also changed the atmosphere a bit. All in all a bit more quiet, which gave more room to Gaz and Mick to improvise and experiment a bit more.
"Diamond Hoo Ha Man", "Mary", "Moving", "Time", "Sitting Up Straight" and "Mansize Rooster" followed and made up the first bit of the set. Second bit stated with a great "St Petersburg", replacing "Fin", "Late In The Day" opened up an In It For The Money-section with "Richard III" and "Going Out", then it slowed down a bit with "Low C", which ended part two.
The" Coffee In The Pot" snippet was followed by "Lose It", "She's So Loose" and "Grace". "Alright" got the 'rare B-side' announcement again, while "Pumping On Your Stereo" finally came out as it was intended: an instrumental build up, exploding into the song itself. And like the previous day, "Sun Hits The Sky" started as a jazzy track, led by Rob, a great rendition of one of my faves. Then came "Lenny" and the band left the stage again.
They returned with a shortened encore, probably due to Danny being not well, playing "Caught By The Fuzz" and "Strange Ones".
Sofie and I went to the after party, which had us being led there in small groups. we were just in time to see a birthday cake being presented to Danny, who had his birthday the day before. I congratulated him and Pearle, nodded friendly to Nic Goffey (which I only realised later on), chatted a bit with Rob, Gaz, Mick and their manager and was shortly interviewed for The Observer as a 'super fan'.
The Tambles crashed the party and gave each member of Supergrass a copy of their record 'Don’t You Want To Know' and then retreated to their dressing room, as it got crowded.
We left early too, being quite tired and wanting to go home, as storm Ciara was about to hit the lowlands and we didn't want to be stranded in Amsterdam with nowhere to go.
And Ciara did disturb things: flights got cancelled, forcing parts of Supergrass and their crew to stay over longer than expected. Danny & Pearle made it home on Sunday, as did part of the crew, Gaz, Rob, the manager and the soundman could fly home on Monday afternoon, while Mick and his daughter had to wait until Tuesday afternoon.
We made it without any problem, while Sofie got home with a few hours delay, making it quite a stormy weekend. But what a great one!
Leo Hoek van Dijke - 12 February 2020