GOLDEN EARRING - The Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam 12/12/2015
The Five Zero.
Approximately one year ago I received an intriguing email in the middle of the night. GOLDEN EARRING, a Dutch band I've loved since I was a teenager in the 80's, were having their 50th anniversary concert at the biggest stadium in Amsterdam. Within 10 minutes, despite not having a current passport or having been on a proper vacation in well over a decade, I bought a VIP ticket. And booked a trip to Amsterdam.
To most Americans, and many others around the world, this band is the ultimate two hit wonder: "Radar Love" in the 70's and "Twilight Zone" in the 80's. But it's a vastly different story in the Netherlands and the rest of the Benelux countries. GOLDEN EARRING are a hugely popular band with a rich history that dates back to the early 60's beat pop era. They still release albums even today - in fact, they released an EP to coincide with this gig called "The Hague" - a nod to the ancient Dutch city they originally hailed from. And unlike their contemporaries THE ROLLING STONES, EARRING still deliver quality new music. I encourage anyone who loves classic hard rock to explore this band's amazingly diverse and enormous catalog: from early pop to their psychedelic period to their brilliant complex heavy progressive era to the hard as nails commercial period that gave us "Twilight Zone" all the way through their more recent acoustic and quirky commercial efforts like "The Naked Truth" and "Millbrook USA". Their heady mix of WHO style power chords, the commanding vocals of pure rock star Barry Hay and the best currently working rhythm section in rock were on perfect display Saturday night.
The Ziggo Dome is about the size of Madison Square Garden. Tonight's gig of 17000 people was sold out and the atmosphere in the hall was electric. About four generations of primarily Dutch and European fans milled about excitedly. The Ziggo has stunning acoustics and massive video screens were put up to accommodate the fans in the back. Vocalist Barry Hay, at 67 in better shape than your gym rat brother strolled onstage and the band kicked into an early favorite, the stomping "Back Home" which was the perfect opener. Hay - intricately tattooed and wearing black sunglasses looked like the ultimate rock star and watching him play the flute was a huge kick. Next up was guitarist George Kooyman's vocal showcase "Buddy Joe" which was a great jam with a memorable spaghetti western lyrical slant. Sticking with he the 70's vein they jumped right into "Just Like Vince Taylor" from the "Moontan" Lp before playing the nights oldest number - an acoustic themed bit of folk pop called "In My House" from 1967's "Miracle Mirror" which predated Barry Hay's joining the band in 1968. Most amazing part? The audience sang along to the whole number!
At this point, the band was pretty much on fire and laid into the ferocious "Identical" with its ringing guitar riff from 2012's "Tits N' Ass" with guest saxophonist Bertus Borgers and then onto their 80's heyday with the brooding "Future". From this point it was a headlong rush to the intermission with "Long Blonde Animal", cool new song "Je Regrette", and two highlights of the entire show: a stunning "Vanilla Queen" - one of the band's most accomplished big ass 70's jams which saw a small horn section pop up for the moody middle section of the track - and then their massive hit "Twilight Zone" which had the whole stadium on its feet in a state of euphoria. This would have been most band's encore but the show wasn't even half over!
Barry Hay to the crowd - "Get a drink!"
While I was in line for a full strength Amstel (no light ones here!) I ended up in a conversation with two older gents who had been following the band since the 60's. They told me a couple of cool stories of seeing the band in The Hague in their Dutch hippy heyday. When they realized I had come all the way from the USA for this they grinned broadly, and one slapped me on the back and yelled delightedly "Crazy American fan!"
Back to the show for part two we got the acoustic set with the highlight being "Weekend Lover" with the many beautiful Dutch ladies in the audience singing along and dancing in the aisles. This song, along with the catchy "I can't sleep without you" seem to be the most popular with the female EARRING fans. My favorite songs of this section was the brooding "Just A Little a Bit Of Peace In My Heart" with its moody DOORS vibe and the perky "Johnny Make Believe".
Heading into the final stretch, the band switch back over to electric for the dramatic "Turn The World Around" and a couple of songs from their 80's MTV days - 'The Devil Made Me Do It' and the infamous "When The Lady Smiles" which had the huge video screens showing images from the music video that almost killed the band's career with its outrageous storyline. After the pounding pop of "Heart Beat" (with additional guest guitarist Frank Carillo) and the swaggering "Bombay" with its infectious drumbeat, EARRING play their evil classic "Kill Me (Ce Soir)" - a strangely haunting song about a murdered rock star, Jesus Christ, and "political chicanery", all with a French twist... and a violin.
And then Rinus Gerritsen is all alone on stage delivering a stunning bass solo on a double neck that shows he's the most underrated bassist in rock and why he's Steve Harris of IRON MAIDEN's favorite bassist. Set closer "Radar Love" is about what you'd expect from a sold out crowd of 17000 fans at a 50th anniversary concert - complete insanity. Cesar Zuiderwijk, who has played amazingly well tonight finally gets his drum solo here and he's terrific and playful.
The final encore sees the band play a new song from the mini-Lp and their progressive classic "She Flies On Strange Wings" with its gentle opening and later blistering power chords that showcase the full range of the EARRING style. The final song of the night is a rollicking "Holy Holy Life" that has the entire stadium stamping their feet and singing along.
A brilliant gig with some unforgettable moments. I have to say, seeing this triumphant show in their native country for this band that I've loved for so long for their 50th anniversary was something I'll never forget. Watching these four guys interact you could see the friendship, humor and amazing musical skill.
Long live GOLDEN EARRING.
The great photos taken at this concert were provided by the talented Cindy Tuijtelaars.
Back Home/Buddy Joe/Just Like Vince Taylor/In My House/Identical/Future/Long Blond Animal/Je Regrette/The Vanilla Queen/Twilight Zone
Weekend Lover/Another 45 Miles/Going To The Run/Just A Little Bit Of Peace In My Heart/Johnny Make Believe/I Can't Sleep Without You/Turn The World Around/ The devil Made Me Do It/When The Lady Smiles/Heartbeat/Bombay/Kill Me (Ce Soir)/Rinus Gerritsen bass solo/Radar Love (with Cesar Zuiderwijk drum solo)
Encores: That's Why I Believe In Her /She Flies In Strange Wings/Holy Holy Life