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The Heavy at Melkweg The Max, Saturday 21 May 2016

Hot and sweaty, shouty and jumpy.

I was a warm day, and I wanted to stretch my legs. I walked to NDSM and took the ferry to Westerdoksdijk (not Tasmanstraat any more). Walking along the Wesetrdoksdijk, I caught some views of the buildings on the IJdok that I hadn’t seen before. I’ve passed them on the water often enough, but I’d never stopped to look at the buildings from this angle before:

I walked to the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal and caught a tram the rest of the way to Leidseplein. JPNSGRLS (pronounced “Japanese Girls”, yet consisting of four dudes from Vancouver, Canada) were on stage already. I bought myself a cold beer and found a good spot to watch. I hardly ever drink a beer at concerts these days, but the circumstances of a nice walk on a warm day were perfect for a cold pilsje. It was good. JPNSGRLS were good, too. I hadn’t listened to any of their music before, but they played well and got the crowd on their side with a batch of solid rock beats.

The Heavy were a completely different matter. They tore it up, and the crowd went wild for them. Unlike my last two concerts at Melkweg (Halsey and Melanie Martinez) I was down on the floor, just a couple of heads back from the jumping and moshing, but still in the middle of the hands and arms and clapping and shouting. The band opened with “Can’t Play Dead”, then three tracks from their new album Hurt and The Merciless. Front man Kelvin Swaby complimented the audience on how we were joining in on the new songs. “What’ll happen if we play something you know even better?” he mused, and launched into “Short Change Hero.”

The whole gig was like that — a mix of new songs and old favourites, with the crowd loving all of them. I had listened to the new album a few times, but what struck me at the concert was that those songs are made to be played live, with an audience joining in at key moments. The recorded versions are good, but they really come into their own when Swaby asks a thousand people to howl like a wolf when he waves his old-fashinoned silver mike during “Big Bad Wolf”, or shout “up!” when he points his arm skywards Usain Bolt-style during the chorus of “Turn Up”.

Set list:

  1. Can’t Play Dead
  2. The Apology
  3. Not The One
  4. Miss California
  5. Short Change Hero
  6. Nobody’s Hero
  7. The Big Bad Wolf
  8. Curse Me Good
  9. Same Ol’
  10. Since You Been Gone
  11. Last Confession
  12. Turn Up
  13. What Happened To The Love?

Encore

  1. Slave To The Love
  2. What Makes A Good Man?
  3. How You Like Me Now

After the gig I emerged into the warm Amsterdam evening. The café tables of the Leidseplein were crowded, and the air was full of dozens of languages. I bought a slice of pizza and wandered back up the Leidsestraat and the Spuistraat back to the station, soaking in the summery atmosphere. Friday evening after the Bleached gig I took the ferry across to Buikslotermeerplein by the Eye, and Abi drove me home. Yesterday I waited around for a bus, listening to The Glorious Dead on my headphones, and watched river traffic pass by under the watchful gaze of the newly opened Adam Toren. Its various lookout bars and restaurants opened last weekend. The top of the building is illuminated and looks fabulous. Must visit it soon.