2 Nov 2007

Amsterdam Day 3

After another traditional breakfast following another slightly disturbed sleep, we set off for Amsterdam's central station with an overnight bag to catch the train to Rotterdam. We will keep the room on here in Amsterdam, as it will save packing and unpacking. The trains are relatively cheap and frequent so within an hour or so we are in Rotterdam looking for our hotel.Whilst looking at the map in the metro station a member of staff tries to explain to us how to use the strippenkaarts (which by the way, have to be the first ticket I have come across that requires origami skills to work ) to travel on the trams and metro. I feel a headache coming on the more he explains. Eventually we get on a tram and stick the strippenkaart into the machine after folding it into various shapes first. Of course when we hand it to the conductor he bursts out laughing and tells us we have done it wrong. Other than that we sit on the tram and off it goes. A little later when we are the only people left and it appears the tram has reached the end of its journey I mention to the conductor where we want to go (near the euro mast). Turns out we're on the wrong tram so we stay on it and the conductor tells us where to get off, points down a street and tells us to pick another tram up somewhere down there. If we do all this in an hour the good news is we don't have to play with the strippenkaart anymore. Eventually after a lot of staring at maps we arrive at the hotel. Only in Rotterdam would the hotel be floating on the water and resemble a floating Hong Kong restaurant. In fact it practically is, with two chinese restaurants, a chinese supermarket and a few rooms. I'll not go in into details but it's a bit basic and I would not recommend it. Other than that it's in a quite spot (middle of nowhere) apart from the dock across from us seems to be drilling for oil and theres a constant bang, bang, bang. Just hope to god that stops by tonight. We check in , have something to eat in the restaurant which is pretty awful, and stare at the rain. The idea was to go to Delft and meet up with some people from the T.N.M.S. forums, but we have spent so much time finding the hotel its now too late. We go for a walk, have a rest, shower and set off to find the Ahoy Arena, fortunately the weather has gone nice again though it's chilly.

We walk around the old dock area, which is the only nice bit of Rotterdam I think, the rest is basically a huge industrial estate the size of a city. Crossing a large bridge we decide to risk the strippenkaart ticket again and stamp it a few times just for the hell of it. I fully take the blame for deciding that I know where the Ahoy is, and then we go past it and watch it disappear behind us. Eventually we get there and seem to be about the first 30 people there. Now you would think that would give you loads of time to waste and be bored standing in a queue. No. The Ahoy has a little place round the corner where you can buy fries and mayonnaise. If you don't arrive a couple of hours before the arena doors open though chances are the concert will be over by the time the girl cooks your order.

Eventually we are in and walking as fast as possible into the arena. No seats here, its stand and have fun. We get straight onto the barrier right in front of Geddys keyboards and Pedals. Theres a great atmosphere here as well, no major crushing, but boy its already starting to get warm and they are not even on yet. Once the show starts its unbelievable, this crowd are so up for it and seem to be moving as one. The sides unlike Manchester do look quite but who cares when you are in the front of a crowd of jumping, dancing, appreciating fans. Jackies jumping and punching the air so much I can see Geddy peering over his sunglasses and smiling at the reaction. Everyone is in good voice too, singing out every word even to the new material. This night and last night are being filmed for a DVD and it's good to see the band are on fire, reacting to the atmosphere of this fantastic crowd. If anything the sound is more guitar heavy here than it was in Manchester and Geddys vocals are the best I have ever heard. Geddy has a few problems at the opening of the second half with his bass levels which seems to annoy him a little, lots of indications to stage left, but it's soon sorted.

A lot has been said about the opening of the second half and the decision to play 5 new songs in succession. I have never really had a problem with it but I did notice in Manchester how it did slightly slow down the crowd a little. Here in Rotterdam something completely different seems to happen. The crowd seem to know the new material so well they are supporting it like crazy and the atmosphere is just getting better and better. Then during "Way the Wind Blows" something really special happens, the crowd are yelling the chorus and on the spur of the moment invent this swaying arm motion to the whole songs chorus. I almost feel a tear run down my cheek as you can see Geddy and Alex smiling away at the reaction.

It's an absolute joy to be so near and a joy to be among such appreciating fans. The eye contact with Geddy really adds so much to the experience and I hope they spotted our enthusiasm and appreciation for the music. I think Jackie has signed herself up to form a groupie for the next tour. This seems confirmed as Geddy comes on in the encore and is given the basket of special T- Shirts they throw out at each concert (think its 8-10 a gig). He steps forward points a finger at Jackie and aims it at her chest, low enough so it can't go anywhere else. Well thats how it looked and thats how we'll remember it.

A couple of things I remember after the concert that made you realise you were not in the UK.One, wondering why no one was moving to get out and then realising we had joined a line of thousands collecting coats from the cloakroom (can't imagine that ever at a UK gig). Wondering why a about a 1000 fans are all stood in a group next to an empty road. (They were waiting for the green man to come on before they crossed the deserted road) these people are so polite.

One thing I didn't like, most people were very dehydrated by intermission time, but being a standing concert it's hard to move,buy water and then ever get back to the front. Asked the security on the other side of the barrier about water for people "Not our problem, we don't give it out". First standing gig I have been to where water is not given out. So extra thanks to the camera crews who were filming from the pit who gave out there own water.

And finally, got the metro back. Of course the metro people had put loads of staff on to help people through the barriers quickly. Jackie handed our strippy thing over and says "We're English we haven't got a clue" I think the lady who stamped it for us is probably still laughing at our ticket even today.


Martin said...

Very Nice pics, I was there the first night. Cool that it was filmed!!!!

Anonymous said...

Stunning photos

James and Anita said...

I saw them for 4 nights in the UK including the Manchester show. Rotterdam was the best hands down though

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