Making of a Moment – Den Haag, NLD 3/2/1992
Last week on the podcast, we talked about the classic 1992 Den Haag show. Randy and I both gave it a 10/10, which means it will be entering the LO4L Hall of Fame later this year. This show is full of great moments, with the band at a peak. Listening to this show brought back so many memories of listening to it on a cassette over and over in the mid-90’s. For my 3 moments, I had to pick the two songs that I thought were two of the best performances of these songs of all time. This left me with a tough choice. I left I’ve Got A Feeling off my list, even though that’s an iconic performance, you get Temple of the Dog tags, a hint at Dirty Frank/Freaky Styley, Jane’s Addiction, plus Ed’s little brother coming out and playing bass and Ed picking up the guitar at a PJ show for one of the first times ever. But that’s been talked about at length in other places. Let’s start with Alone.
The first thing you notice is the precision of everyone in the band during the intro. Alone in its post-1994 evolution sometimes has a loose, relaxed feel to it, but this one is locked in. There’s complete silence on stage during the little pauses, and listen to how Mike plays around that with a little lead, it’s fantastic. Even though this didn’t make Ten (it should have), it’s still in the rotation here, getting played at 4 out of 5 shows from the end of February 1992 into the beginning of March, including the Tivoli show in Utrecht we’re covering this week. This has the groove and bounce that all of the best early performances had. Ed doesn’t do all of the vocals here that he does on the studio versions, but we do get a “ohh, don’t talk to me” in lieu of that. He’s busy dancing and thrashing around, and as Mike goes into the solo he gives him some encouragement, shouting “Go, Mike!” before going over to Stone’s side and leaning on him. As Mike is soloing (one of his best of the night I would argue), Ed starts pulling on something behind Stone, and giving him a wedgie as Stone is trying to play. Stone is unbreakable though, and only breaks after the song to ask for some help. This performance of Alone shows the potential that it had, had it not fallen by the wayside after 1994, and for that reason I think it’s one of, if not the best Alone ever.
Oceans opens this show, and while we think of that now as being a unique, rare occurrence, it was played 28 times in 1992, nearly a third of all its performances. Listen to Abbruzzese here, I’m not one to usually give him credit for restraint, but his work on the toms is top-notch. As I mentioned on the show, it sounds like he listened to Keith Moon on Quadrophenia and took notes, using his entire kit to enhance the maritime vibes of the song. Not to mention Ed, sounding fantastic, showing a little bit of his tender side before unleashing the baritone. Pay attention as the song completes its ascendance, at 2:50, Stone is grooving on the rhythm, and we get a close-up of Ed, eyes closed, concentrating, pushing his voice to the end of the song, and he lets the final word linger on before trailing off. Restraint in a time of bombast. I haven’t heard a version better than this and I don’t think I will.
Saying No is my #1 moment from this show. It sounds like nothing they were doing at the time, is it an improv? Ed calls it a song before they start, it was played only 5 times total. From the beginning, Ed is scatting, throwing in a “Den Haag” or two. Dave is keeping it simple at first, although he’ll continue to ramp up the intensity every time through the lyrics, until the doors finally break down at 38:15. When I listen to this now, nearly 30 years after I first heard it, I think of this as a precursor to something like W.M.A., which also relies on repetition and rhythm, and I wonder if there’s a relationship between the two songs, if this was part of the process that got them to W.M.A. Hearing this song as a teenager was formative in my views about consent and relationship dynamics. Ed was one of my role models, and I was listening. At 38:50, Saying No technically ends and the Suggestion tag takes over. They had been doing this early Fugazi classic since late 1991, throwing it in as an intro, a tease, but this, again, I think is the best one. It made an appearance, appropriately enough, at Pinkpop in 2018 after 20 years dormant, perhaps a little nod to this performance. The rest of the band brings the intensity back for a while before it falls apart. Saying No made another appearance in Cologne, Germany the week after this show, and then one final time in 1993 in Colorado, a show that we do not have a recording of. This is a truly singular performance of a song that, unlike so many others, never found its place.