iconIederéén staat op de longlist. Maar als ULTRA de Pop Media Prijs 2012 wint, geeft de auteur het integrale geldbedrag aan 'n nog nader te bepalen jonge Nederlandse band, ULTRA in geest. Stemmen dus! Stemmen kan tot maandag 26 november 2012. Een stem voor ULTRA is een stem voor de muziek! (Het boek, dat is af. Maar de muziek, daar komt nooit een einde aan...)

One big sweep, from ULTRA-modern to post-experimental (ii)

may 03, 2012.

In the proven do-it-yourself fashion, past months' Dutch ULTRA-neo-retro-wave was brought to its zenith by an impressive bunch of volunteers, enthusiasts and run-a-longs, with Wally van Middendorp (also in the proven way) riding the wave's crest and acting as a zen-ish focal point for lots of the ULTRA 2012 action (in which I was, by the way, involved merely sideways).

Much in the avalanche of ding-dong that accompanied it, however (though - obviously - very useful and valuable from a marketing point of view, for which I bow my head in graceful thanks), quite regularly missed the point by miles.

It is why I so much love this modest screen shot of a consecutive series of re-tweets of (non-consecutive) tweets by my favorite swarm of houseflies, cooked up by Hans Hopper, a young twitter friend of the @soundblog's.

- Hopper, Hopper, boy oh boy, I knew they (c)(w)ould do it! -

fly ultra


Preceded in the afternoon in Concerto in the Utrechtsestraat (Amsterdam's only surviving proper record store) by a short and energetic set by post-ULTRA rockers Space Siren and followed by one of our highly acclaimed New Moons' ULTRA-reading-performances, a meticulously orchestrated 'final' ULTRA chord was hit on Easter Saturday April 7th, in the Melkweg in Amsterdam, with a multi-layered ULTRA 2012 Einde event, offering an awful lot to hear and an awful lot to see.

Me wearing a The Sound and the Fury T-shirt, just to name an example. You could briefly read about that shirt in an earlier entry of the SoundBlog. It inspired one of my favorites among the many heartbreaking stories in the ULTRA-book (p. 149-154). Zsa Zsa Linnemann, who, decades ago, designed and hand-painted the original shirt that Ian Curtis wore on stage while fronting Joy Division's first and only concert at the Amsterdam Paradiso, had the good sense to do a limited edition remake on the occasion of my book's publication and the series of related ULTRA-events.

t shirt

Among the many other things worth mentioning, in hindsight it's first of all the delicious ULTRA cakes that spring to my mind. They were offered to us ULTRA-lot by the esteemed Richard James Foster. Baked by Zoe Elizabeth Gottehrer, Richard and Zoe's thought- and colorful present allowed me that very evening to have my ULTRA-cake and eat it...

Wally did the same. He also had his cake and ate it.

The wickedly marvelous Minny Pops, that, after thirty years of standstill, had been set back into motion, and who - performing or not - had been at the heart of the 2012 ULTRA 'revival', were to have their deserved heure de gloire in de Melkweg. Back in 1979/1980 it were Wally's Minny Pops that set this whole 'ULTRA-thing' in motion. And now, at the very end of the end of the series of ULTRA 2012 events, the band - thus Wally decided - would make its last ever appearance in the Netherlands. Even though the Pops are certainly not coming to another standstill yet. They will be recording new material and performing again - in the UK - later this year. Time will tell whether the Melkweg concert indeed has been the Pops' final Dutch 'standup', but whatever way, it gave rise to a whole lot of (re)mark(et)able buzz.

And high expectations.

ultra cake

Wally van Middendorp is the Minny Pops. The Minny Pops are Wally Pops. And with (more than) a little help from a long list of old and young Minny allies, the Pops' conceptualizing frontman came up with a number of ULTRA 2012 live events that were close to being magic.
Touching is the word that probably best describes the band's short first-after-30-years performance. They played a number of tracks from the (late) Poste Restante album (1983, Plurex 3000) in Roodkapje in Rotterdam, on December 3th 2011 (with Pieter Mulder on bass, Wim Dekker on synths and a guest appearance by Mecano's Dirk Polak, on accordion). It all added up to Wally emptying a bottle of water over his head on stage.
Surprising and fun was Wally's live makeover of the first Minny Pops record, the Kojak ep (1979, Plurex 0005), in TAC in Eindhoven with an all-female backing band, on March 9th.
Outstanding were the two renditions of the Minny Pops' seminal first album, Drastic Measures, Drastic Movement (1979, Plurex 0900), in which Wally and veteran Pops Dennis Duchhart, Wim Dekker and Pieter Mulder joined forces with young composers Wilbert Bulsink, Bart de Vrees, Thomas Myrmel and Jeroen Kimman: a first time in the Brussels Ateliers Claus on March 7th, and again a few days later in Dansmakers in Amsterdam, on March 11th, where the bottle of water gave way to a liter bottle of olive oil.

The Minny Pops' final ULTRA 2012 gig at De Melkweg, however, seemed to be far less concerned with the sonic (al)chemistry, that for me from the early days of ULTRA onwards always has remained at the core of what making music should be all about. In the Melkweg, after a short promising theatrical introduction somewhat reminiscent of the Residents, the Pops much of time picked from a hat full of rock performance cliches, in a show that was built around material from the band's Factory period, which (as readers of the ULTRA-book will realize) is somewhat less my piece of ULTRA-cake. Thomas Myrmel and Wim Dekker's fine electronickery were set back too much for my taste (or for my place), on stage as well as in sound. Upfront were Mark 'Spasmodique' Ritsema's rock-rhythmic solid electric guitar playing and Pieter Mulder's versatile electric bass-ing. And then, of course, in the very middle of it all and in the limelight wandered, jumped and waggled Wally Pops, the ever (non-)singing de facto (non-)star-entity, very much in place because of being so far out of it.

But one of Wally's great talents when verging into cliche and super-kitsch, is his ability to give things just that little extra push that nolens volens at some point always manages to win me over.

On April 7th that moment arrived when near the end of the show on stage he was joined by Caroline Westendorp, singer of - no kidding - The Charm and the Fury, a metalcore band from Amsterdam. After a but moderately successful attempt to remove the hair of Wally's head with electric clippers, Caroline and Wally did a duet-version of Een Kus, arguably among the Minny Pops' most shamefully shameless tearjerkers, that, with Caroline growling like a whistling buoy, was pushed way over the top into the echoing meta-wacky and remained echo-laden until the very end, when Caroline solemnly anointed the Pops' Great Helmsman with a flow of white lotion.

Wally Pops likes to have liquids of all sorts poured over his head on stage. This time it looked a frigthening lot like the scene I had dreamt a couple of weeks before, as part of my 1 minute ULTRA opera ... grin ...

In between the pictures of the shaving and anointing (made by Marcel Harlaar) there's a fine noisy sounding lo-fi YouTube clip (by Roel Dormits) of the last 13 minutes of the Minny Pops' final Dutch appearance. [ added May 6th, 2017 : removed ... the video appears to be no longer available on uToop ]

wally pop
wally pop

Because of some of the parallel program items in which I was myself involved - participating upstairs in a panel discussion on ULTRA then & ULTRA now, with Stan Rijven, Peter Bruyn, Atze de Vrieze and Marcel van Schooten, and a bit later performing in the Theaterzaal - and thanks to the highly enjoyable presence of so many old friends and old & new acquaintances to talk with in the Melkweg's many corridors, I missed all of Truus de Groot's performances, and most of the Tapes retro-reunion-performance. For similar reasons I missed the neo-plus-post-ULTRA opening performances in the Theaterzaal, by the Tobacconists and Bertin. I also missed the Wooden Constructions, but that was because this exciting young Amsterdam neo-post-punk outfit attracted such a crowd that I found it simply impossible to get inside the relatively small Melkweg Theaterzaal.

laatste opptreden

After the Wooden Constructions had ended their explosive concert and the crowd dispersed, the Theaterzaal was left empty again. It was there and then that Peter Mertens and myself set up for a New Moons performance. Also this would be a final one, eager as we were to now quickly become our familiar ookoi-selves again, getting back to being the plus-post-meta-ULTRA's we had always been, in one straight wiggling warping line leading from way back then into the now, and on to the tomorrow. But as we never did and never will do last performances (that, of course, is a principle; but maybe also it is not, because nothing really is), this last ever New Moons performance got canceled.

ging nooit door

When later that night I left the Melkweg, not even drunk just a little, but pretty exhausted, I decided to skip the ULTRA-afterparty with a bunch of young bands, hosted by the Subroutine Records label, in the Vondelbunker in the Vondelpark; a place that in the late 1960s was home to one of the first Amsterdam youth centers, Lijn 3, which later elsewhere in town became the Oktopus center where in 1980's fall Wally Pops, Rob Scholte and myself began organizing the series of ULTRA-concerts, that in turn brought me to where I was now, on that early 2012 Easter Sunday morning in Amsterdam.

All of this I carried back home with me, along with the large paper roll-up of our canceled final New Moons performance.

It felt quite a burden.

[previous: One big sweep, i //
next: Y.3 = YltrA! One big sweep, iii]

tags: post-punk, ultra

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