Nits convince at the start of a great tour in Strasbourg

Foto (c) Hans Kreutzer

The Artefact Laiterie in Strasbourg is such a club where, judging by the concert posters hanging on the walls, at other times mainly fans of heavier rock gather. On March 7, however, the large hall of this stage was the stage for the official kick-off of the European anniversary tour celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Dutch band Nits. There was no lack of interest tonight. With their new album “Tree, House, Fire” under their belt and the promise of the many classics in their repertoire, Nits did not completely sell out the venue. Still, you had to arrive early to get a good spot. The French audience consisted of older enthusiasts, but also a surprising number of young people, and even entire families were present here in Strasbourg to see and hear Nits.

Just after half past eight, the éminence grise of pop music from the Low Countries appeared on stage. Nits started the evening with “Month of May” from their latest album ‘Tree House Fire’; ‘I am standing in a burned-out kitchen, looking at the Month of May’. Henk Hofstede sang it as if it happened yesterday. The fire in the Nits studio De Werff, almost a year ago, was decisive, but the Nits would not be Nits if they did not use this event as new inspiration to create beautiful new songs.

The first part of the concert featured several songs from the latest album. The French audience appeared to already be familiar with the new material, which was well received. Henk did more than his best to put the performance together in French, but despite his great efforts he could not avoid drifting back to English and Dutch again and again. The audience enjoyed the music and the linguistic escapades of the Nits frontman. Henk was in good voice, the medical challenge he faced last year after the fire with a condition that affected his facial muscles seemed to have been averted for now. Good thing, too.

When the band played “The Tree” you could have heard a pin drop in Strasbourg. It was clear that this new song immediately became one of the crowd favourites and immediately secured a place in the favourite lists of the best Nits songs ever. What a beauty.

The first set was entirely dedicated to the new album ‘Tree House Fire’ and was greatly appreciated by the audience. Nits played in a beautiful setting. Behind them on the stage was a tree, a house and a fire. Beautiful projections and a beautiful lighting plan were shown with many light bulbs. The first set was lifted to a climax with a beautiful performance of “Nescio”, in which the lyrics of this Dutch writer are projected behind the band. The song is still one of the jewels in the crown of Nits’ oeuvre. If the Dutch politicians on the right who bleat so much about Dutch culture that must be preserved, meant this, many would sleep more peacefully.

When Nits returned for the second set, it was a kick-off to a real party. The set kicked off with “Da Da Da”, which immediately created a lot of enthusiasm in the room. It remains wonderful to hear the triumvirate band make such a big sound. Wizard Robert-Jan Stips had a lot of fun behind his keyboards. In the end, Henk made it clear to the audience that he has “Un Petit velo dans ma Tete”. It is precisely this ‘madness’, this ability to continue playing and discovering like a child for fifty years, that is and remains the great force behind Nits.

When the band started “Yellow Socks and Angst”, Henk Hofstede played the ‘Johnny Hallyday card’ at the introduction, and even briefly referred to his big hit “Maintenant ma vie va commencer”. It was a hit with the now unstoppable audience. The grand finale created scenes in the hall that we at Nits have known for decades. The audience became increasingly enthusiastic with titles such as “JOS Days”, “Cars and Cars” and finally in the encore, “In The Dutch Mountains”. “Adieu Sweet Bahnhof” was sung word for word by the audience and even provided a beautiful piece solo sing-along by the audience, under the instructions of Henk Hofstede.

France did not let Nits go until they played a shorter version of “Sketches of Spain” as their second encore than they have been used to lately. However, Nits’ opening concert for their European anniversary tour was more than successful. They were as strong as ever. They are still playing, the child is still there. This can only get better.

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