For the last ten years my wife has told me that if there’s a John Foxx show happening we need to go and bite the bullet and travel to the UK, and while we’re there, we need to also see The Nits in the Netherlands. Ironically, the last John Foxx concert I can see on setlist.fm was Foxx at the Paradisio in 2015! If I ever get a time machine, we should re-think attending! So it seems like the good ship Foxx has sailed for good, and that will never be checked off of my concert bucket list. But what about The Nits?
I heard sad news from chasinvictoria that vocalist/guitarist Henk Hofstede announced in April that he was suffering from Myasthenia Gravis; a disease which can affect his ability to perform music. I thought that might be the end for The Nits, but the Dutch band will be celebrating 50 years active on April 13, 2024, and for that night, at least, they will be performing their 50th anniversary show at The Carré in Amsterdam. My wife’s admiration of The Nits knows no bounds. We already have four tickets to the show since she couldn’t decide where the better seats were!
I first heard The Nits when chasinvictoria bought the great Dutch New Wave Compilation “Steppin’ Into The 80s” with their song “Young Reporter” on it. At the time, they were one of dozens of bands mining the rich New Wave seam that Elvis Costello + The Attractions had unearthed. Good, but derivative. It was several years before the band again reached my ears.
The Nits were one of those groups that came to our ears via Ron Kane’s apple seeding in the mid-80s. Several singles made their way to Mr. Ware before they came to rest in my Record Cell and what a difference a few years makes! Songs like “Nescio” were heartbreakingly beautiful, so I kept an eye peeled for any Nits material. Which was mighty thin on the ground in Central Florida! By 1988, I saw their CD EP “Hat” at Park Avenue Records, and I bought it to find the band aligned with the sophisticated sounds of The Blue Nile… who didn’t release their album called “Hats” for another two years! Then the next CD I found was “Da Da Da” in 1993.
When I met my wife, she was known to champion bands she discovered in the Record Cell, making them more active targets for inclusion. Ryuichi Sakamoto was one artist whose presence in our collection benefited from her scrutiny, and The Nits were another. I occasionally traded things on the internet, and maybe it was a member of the Associates Affectionate Bunch mailing list where a fan in the Netherlands wanted to hear the incredibly rare at the time “Outernational” by Billy Mackenzie. I provided a CD-R and the recipient asked what they could do for me. Since they lived in the Netherlands, I said, “send me a Nits CD. Any one except for “Hat” or “Da Da Da.” They send the album that made their name at home, “In The Dutch Mountains.” Another excellent album. By that time, their keyboardist, Robert Jan Stips was really pushing their sound into amazing places.
Fortunately, a trip to a CD Warehouse full of used discs one day paid off handsomely as Dutch imports rarely troubled the Orlando bins, yet we got a couple more! We then started actively collecting on eBay and quickly got up to speed. In the last 20 years, we now buy them directly from the band. I’m only going to add at that this point, that if you meet your demise without hearing 1992’s astonishing “Ting,” then I feel sorry for you.
So now we have committed to a trip to Amsterdam next April. I was all set to visit friends I had made online in the UK as well in March of 2020 for the trip that was halted by the pandemic. And now we will be making the jump from Amsterdam to the UK to meet up with fine folks, who frankly, I missed more than even the Heaven 17-Go-Human-League show that was the ostensible reason for the quick and dirty trip that never happened.
And we’re looking at time to make this a trip to remember over a three week period. We’ll hopefully take in some world class art museums and beautiful gardens. As spring will be happening, it should be spectacular. We also want to take a side trip from Amsterdam to Wuppertal, specifically to see Pina Bausch’s Tanz Wuppertal’s dance troupe. We had tickets for their Chicago debut in May of 2020 but of course that was another missed opportunity.
Everything right now is still in the pre-planning stages, but we’re working on the travel schedule and best order to do things. As Colin [Black] Vearncombe put it, “all we need is the money.” I’ve seriously wanted to cull the Record Cell for a year now and there’s no better time to maybe go beyond the obvious and cash in some high ticket items that I’d gladly sacrifice to make this trip. So watch this space. The record sale button in the widget panel should be returning soon. We’ve got eleven months to make this a reality.
Wow! Sounds like a fun trip ahead. I’ll check Ting when I get a chance.
Michael Toland – We’re cowed by the enormity of it, yet gingerly pressing onward. Please report back with your findings on “Ting.” I’d do a Rock G.P.A. on The Nits but for the fact that their first 1978 album was pressed in 1000 copes and a fat three figure cost means that I will never hear it. Even the band-approved bootleg CD-R is three figures!
Nice! Enjoy the trip and congratulations on hitting one of your bucket list band concerts.
I haven’t heard the Nits before, but now I’m going to hunt down some of their music (you had me with the Blue Nile comparison).
I just discovered 3 Nits tracks on my pc hard drive. Spoke to my Dutch cousins this morning and they are lifelong fans.
Maybe Chris and I will meet you in Amsterdam and see them too,before we all meet again in Wales! That would be something.
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Gavin – The extra tickets are yours! We are even more excited now! This is going to be an incredible trip!