‘Keith! Ronnie!’ Parlevinken at the Stones in A’dam (background)

And gone they are. For three weeks, The Rolling Stones settled in Amsterdam to rehearse in the small hall of the Ziggo Dome for their upcoming Sixty Tour. On Thursday afternoon, the caravan left the heart of the city for the last time, this time to Schiphol, where the Boeing 767 with tongue logo was ready to take Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood and the like to Madrid. There the tour will kick off on Wednesday in the Atletico stadium, on June 13 the Stones return to Amsterdam for a concert in the Johan Cruijff ArenA.

No, they barely showed up in those three weeks. But those who paid close attention, or were just pure luck, could catch even more than a glimpse of the greatest rock & roll band of all time. Such as Patricia, who has been a Stones fan for many years and an employee of the Rijksmuseum. When Keith Richards and Ron Wood casually entered the museum one evening after closing time early this month, she was allowed to join the tour.

The moment the photos of the visit appeared on the socials, the message boards, socials and app groups had been buzzing for a while, as more and more members of the Stones entourage were spotted in our capital. Although it could go either way, when Keith and Ronnie posed for the Jewish Bride with business director Erik van Ginkel: a visit to the accountant, a casual band meeting, a cultural outing with two old friends? Or should we take a tour of the studios, rehearsal rooms and halls?

A few days later, most of the puzzle pieces were in place. Keith, Ronnie and the backing band had taken up residence in a chic fortress on the Amstel. And indeed, it was about the rehearsals, so they would stay for a while too. From a photo of the drum kit of Steve Jordan, the replacement for the primal Stone Charlie Watts, who died last year, it could be concluded that the small hall of the Ziggo Dome was the place of action. “Waiting on a friend,” was his Insta caption, showing the empty drum kit and a lone microphone stand.

Because indeed, no trace of Mick Jagger yet. Also on previous visits to our country he stayed at a different location than the rest of the band. Meanwhile, rumors were flying around the hotel in the city center: a villa in the Gooi, a house by the sea in North Holland, all possible luxury hotels in Amsterdam and the surrounding area were reviewed. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack. But oh well, what would it be: the Stones are in townthe tour is coming, let them practice.

The day before yesterday, on May 25, Mick Jagger himself broke the silence and his invisibility. Not a haystack to be seen in the photos of his bike rides in the countryside around Amsterdam. There is, however, a bridge, a blooming rhododendron and a smiling Mick in front of the De Zwaan windmill in Ouderkerk aan de Amstel, just south of the city. A few miles downriver, Keith also gave an official sign of life that same day. ‘When in Amsterdam’, read the message, with a photo of him bobbing through the dim canals on a boat, clothed around his head, like a pharaoh. While in the Rijks he still looked like a creation by Rembrandt himself, now he seemed to have walked away from the Allard Pierson. Amsterdam was thanked, the rehearsals were over.

Only a few spoilers leaked through the hermetically sealed walls of the small upstairs room of the Ziggo Dome: background singer Sasha Allen posted a photo on Instagram showing a traditional hand-painted setlist by Ron Wood. With a keen eye fell Ruby TuesdayShe’s A RainbowMemory MotelNeighbours and even the one that hasn’t been played since the sixties Mother’s Little Helper to decipher. On the last day of rehearsal, the band account had already posted a short behind-the-scenes video from the Ziggo Dome, later a ’round drum kit’ by Steve Jordan again followed. But the fans and followers had to make do with that, as far as those Amsterdam rehearsals were concerned.

In the days following the Rijksmuseum tour, they had flown in from far and wide, the super fans who hung around the rehearsal location for days at previous tour rehearsals in London and Paris. A glimpse of the band on arrival or departure, a fragment of sound, that’s all they needed to spend whole days bivouacking in an industrial area. None of this in Amsterdam: the band drove straight in, the roads around the front building of the Ziggo Dome were impassable for pedestrians, there was nothing to see, nothing to hear. So the famous headlines from the international fan base started dripping after a few days. Although even the seasoned die-hards were at peace with the fact that their heroes could at least go about their business safely from the press, crowds and especially Covid. Let them practice indeed

Could the public not experience anything at all from three weeks of Stones in Amsterdam? Sure, if you only knew where and when to look for it. Whoever got hold of the right bench by the water around lunchtime had a good chance of meeting Ron Wood on his balcony. Morning Ron! A grin, a wave. And then again. Every now and then a silvery white head appeared on a distant balustrade, unmistakably the furrowed face of Keith Richards, just awake. Thumbs up and on with the show† At around drink time, the inner city team would then leave for the hall, so on the way to the café it was always worthwhile to go and have a drink on the spot.

At most a handful of fans, plus a few bewildered passers-by, saw the spacious fleet of cars start the engines every afternoon. In sunny weather and quiet traffic, Ronnie occasionally took the time for a scribble, cyclists ringing furiously but just evading. Keith invariably disappeared through a side door, where his van was parked against it like a money truck. He would be outside for a second, maybe two, saying and signing nothing, although sometimes a wave of hands could be removed. Disappointment with the sparse superfans with album covers at the ready, who had been waiting in vain all day. One time, a large German appeared on the stroke of departure in a Stones shirt and cap, claiming that the band did not stay here at all.

We had been tricked, he laughed, in the middle of the street. Fritz or Günther never knew that he blocked the departing Keith himself. On a rainy afternoon, two unsuspecting elderly Dutch ladies also stopped for a moment, who had caught the wrong name: this was not Cliff Richard at all! And so it went on every day.

And now they have flown. Big winner of three weeks of Rolling Stones in Amsterdam? The band itself, of course, who could just go about their business, almost undisturbed. And yet also the local lucky guy, the (more or less) accidental passer-by, who simply has a good mood gets when the Stones are in town. A small miracle, in 2022, but the wonders are not yet over. Neither do the Rolling Stones themselves; the songs are in, covid stayed out and they are ready again after six decades of rock & roll. Yesterday afternoon, Ascension Day, the caravan left for the last time, walking at a walking pace through the Bijenkorf traffic jam, towards Schiphol, on to Madrid. The new tour stage and the entire stadium production will be tried out there in the coming days. Let them practice – and then we’ll dive into the cafe again.

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