Burgerweeshuis, Deventer, Late 1987
I was 17 and a fan of the Kecks, a new and upcoming Dutch band. Coming from a small town I had never been to a club to see a concert, this time I got permission from my parents to go. Together with Ben, a friend from the next village, we took our bike and went to Deventer, nearly two hours in a cold winter night. Everything for our new favourite band.
We were early, obviously. One soft drink before the gig, then into the concert hall to get a good place. We were lucky: front row was still possible. First we had to wait for the opening act of the evening. A punk band from the north, I had seen them on TV once, a song titled ‘Meh’ which immediately has the whole title as lyrics. Standing on the front row I saw their play list, which they had written down on a sheet and cello taped to a speaker in front of them. Nearly thirty songs, I was amazed. In my head I started calculating (as I love to do), an hour and a half at least, then reset the stage, the Kecks, encore and two hours cycling again, this could become a long night.
The Boegies entered the stage and started playing at full volume. My ears were buzzing as I was staring at the singer and the bass player. Especially the last one got my attention. His sideburns were too big to get that name. In reality he had so much hair on the sides of his face; he would make ZZ Top jealous, had they been there. The singer wore a long raincoat and seemed to mumble indecipherable lyrics into the microphone, unaware that there was a band playing music behind him.
Behind me something else happened I hadn’t anticipated. Pogo was the rage in the eighties, though I had never seen it before. A few dozen, imho idiots, started jumping up and down and even into each other. What the fuck was happening? I tried to get eye contact with the singer, as if by just looking at him I could decide if he also thought that those morons behind us were suicidal. Secretly he must be laughing his ass off, I thought, though he seemed to enjoy himself on stage. My time calculations turned out to be wrong, a punk song over 2 minutes is no punk, according to Piepke, who had introduced himself as well as the members of the band, through their song ‘Piepke, Ricky, Dougel, Maak’.
I began to like Piepke. He was taking the piss out of everyone here, including himself and shouted lyrics in Dutch, Russian, Frisian, English or a mixture of these languages. Halfway through the concert he wanted to announce a song, but didn’t know which one. I saw him stare at the sheet in front of him, yet he couldn’t find the title. “Go ahead, play something” he shouted to his mates, who obliged immediately. On the front row Ben and I looked at each other and concluded that they had done so all evening. Just play something, Piepke makes up some lyrics and they call it a song. After an hour and a short encore they were done.
Half an hour later we stood in awe as we finally got to see our heroes from up close. The sell out crowd behind us became annoying, but we hadn’t come all this way to give up our front row places. We sang along with the songs from the latest album I had bought a month early and had copied for Ben. The singer, Rick de Leeuw, was enjoying the crowds’ enthusiasm, but also made eye contact with us a few times during the gig that seemed to last for hours, yet was over before we realised. We were sure; this was going to be the next big thing in our little country. Not only that, we had seen them before they grew big.
The highlight of the evening was the moment shortly after the show that the bass player of the Kecks, Theo, came from behind the screen with the merchandise. The Kecks weren’t big enough to hire someone to do this for them, so he did everything himself. A big suitcase with albums, T-shirts over his shoulder and some other stuff in his empty hand he jumped off the stage and turned out to be a friendly and extremely approachable figure. We bought the second and third album (one each), as he told us that the first album wasn’t as good as these two. We discussed T-shirts, but tried to get a ‘crew’ shirt. He told us to come a month later to another gig where he would try to get us some grey shirts as well.
With our new albums in our hands we cycled back, the cold didn’t bother us for a minute, we had had a great night, we had been introduced to club concerts and we had made friends with the bass player from the best band ever.