Yesterday I went to Nijmegen with my friend Laurent, whom I met a few years ago through the dEUS forum. We meant to attend the rehearsal, but couldn’t get inside the building, and since the weather was so nice we went for a walk in the city. A bit of a let-down: while the photos on the Nijmegen websites make it look like a gorgeous town, only a fraction of the medieval centre survided the second World War. I read on Wikipedia that Nijmegen was bombed flat by… the American air force, who thought they were bombing the German city of Kleve. The stupidity of war… oh God. Still, by the river there’s a lovely hilly little park with medieval ruins and the loveliest pedestrian bridge.
Some 15-minute walking from downtown Nijmegen, Doornroosje (in English Sleeping beauty) started as a hippie cultural centre in the 70’s. Not surprising then that it looks like a big and very, very colourful house (and I’m only showing you the back of the building). From wall to wall it’s covered in street paintings, even the doors are painted, and there are signs asking all the aspiring Basquiats not to paint over the windows.
Belgian band The Blackbox Revelation opened the evening. They’re a pair of skilled musicians, especially considering their age, and what they do they do well — but overall, I felt like I was listening to your average 70’s rock band. The poor man’s Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Not bad, just déjà-vu.
Half an hour later dEUS entered the stage. They started with When She Comes Down, sounding better than in Breda, and followed with Oh Your God, with Stéphane in top drumming shape. Sun Ra followed: what a start! The Lisa-less version of Eternal Woman was fine, but already Tom’s stage feedback was marred by technical problems, and that would go on until the end of the concert, making him visibly very upset (he looked outright sombre during Instant Street, shouting angrily in French at his roadies). If he’d known that his voice and guitars sounded just fine heard from the audience, maybe he’d have relaxed a little and have given his fans a little more attention… The other guys didn’t seem to suffer from any such annoyance.
I was happy to hear that they used their 2-day break to sort out Slow. Tom’s little piano was clearly audible, and Mauro took over Klaas’s violin screeches with his guitar, and the song worked much, much better that way. I still wish they’d use a recording of Karin Dreijer’s vocals when they perform it, since her singing is a big part of what makes Slow such a wonderful piece to me. They did The Architect afterwards — yeah, the setlist is getting quite similar to Sunday’s — and Fell Off The Floor, Man to follow. I really like Klaas’s distorted violin intro on Favourite Game, and if I manage to get over the way Tom sings the “Rest your eyes…” part, I’ll end up loving that song.
Smokers Reflect came after that, definitely one of my favourite Vantage Point moments. It’s got a simple and folksy melody, but I’m in love with it. The band plays a surprising, Indian-psychedelic-sounding intro on that one. The mood remained a quiet one with Nothing Really Ends, again with that vibraphone-less intro, with the noisy ending fading, as in Breda, into Bad Timing, but with Tom kneeling in front of his amp for a minute of Fender feedback — can’t remember when I last saw him do that. Is A Robot was next, and that song only truly comes to its own live. It’s much longer than on the album, with a weird break of drums and spacey synth sounds. My favourite new song so far on the tour. The first part of the concert ended with Pocket Rev and Roses (which seemed very short to me).
They came back with The Vanishing of Maria Schneider, again with great backing vocals by Stéphane — he is this tour’s new star. I’m not sure Maria is quite ready yet for the stage: as much as I love it on the album, I feel something is missing when they play it. They played What We Talk About and then Turnpike (I think they messed it up - the loud trumpet & cymbals crash never came and the guitars/haha’s ending wasn’t spot-on). But Popular Culture was great, so that the concert ended on a positive note — which didn’t stop Tom from leaving the stage after saying “Thank you - you’ve been very tolerant”.
On the whole, I liked this concert more than Sunday’s. Most of the new songs sounded better, and the crowd was more into it (or at least, where I was standing). I have no idea what was happening to Tom’s guitars/amps/whatever, but he was definitely not having fun, even though I couldn’t hear anything wrong. The result was that he hardly interacted with the crowd, and if I wasn’t going to see dEUS half a dozen times again on this tour, and knew that this was only the result of technical problems behind the band’s control, I would probably have been disappointed, even if the rest of the band was much more into it.
By the way, the Vantage Point merchandise is now available during concerts. Unfortunately, the shirts don’t feature Michaël Borremans’s beautiful drawings, probably for a reason of copyright. They sport the “dEUS - Vantage Point” writing seen on the album cover. They’re made by “Marcel de Bruxelles”, a fashion company apparently famous for their tank-tops (in French, Marcel is a name, but it’s also a familiar noun for a tank-top). As expected, I couldn’t get inside any of the XL merchandise, but I can tell you one thing: Klaas Janzoons in a tight “girlie” Vantage Point shirt is a glorious sight.
- When She Comes Down
- Oh Your God
- Sun Ra
- Eternal Woman
- Instant Street
- The Architect
- Fell Off The Floor, Man
- Favourite Game
- Smokers Reflect
- Nothing Really Ends
- Bad Timing
- Is A Robot
- Pocket Revolution
- The Vanishing of Maria Schneider
- What We Talk About (When We Talk About Love)
- Theme From Turnpike
- Popular Culture
You can also discuss this gig on the dEUS forum….